A work of art that also happens to tell the time
Courtesy of MB&F and Eddy Jaquet
MB&F stands for Maximilian Busser and Friends and the 'friends' part of the name is crucial in identifying the brand's identity and ideas. Founded in 2005, MB&F regularly collaborate with designers and other watch companies to produce unique timepieces that often share a lot in common with art. This particular timepiece, which is actually a collection of eight unique models, was manufactured in partnership with Eddy Jaquet, a Swiss artist who specializes in high quality engravings, to create a series of beautiful dials inspired by eight novels written by Jules Verne: Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea , From the Earth to the Moon , Around the World in Eighty Days , Five Weeks in a Balloon , The Adventures of Captain Hatteras , Journey to the Center of the Earth , Michael Strogoff and Robur the Conqueror.
It's important to point out that these illustrations do not come from existing pieces or drawings but they were instead designed entirely by Eddy Jaquet - who's also an avid Jules Verne reader - and as you can expect, it did take a lot of work. Partly because engraving is very difficult and also because these pieces were specifically created to run on the LM SE (Legacy Machine Split Escapement) engine, manufactured in-house by MB&F.
The LM SE in these pieces features an openworked date and power-reserve sub-dials along with wider dial plates. The bezel was re-calibrated to be slimmer as was the case, which in turn required a new domed sapphire crystal. Jaquet also applied a dark rhodium alloy, by hand, to give the drawings more depth and shades.
Each dial required hundreds of hours of work to make sure it adhered to the story and the concept behind the novels. On the piece that's inspired by 'Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea', for example, you can see the Nautilus submarine drifting in the depths of the ocean, while the dial plate on the 'Journey to the Center of the Earth' model showcases a subterranean ocean setting full with prehistoric creatures.
Jaquet used an electroplating pen to apply various layers of dark rhodium alloys, like a brush, and the advantages of using this technique are evident in the 'chiaroscuro' effect for the smoky fire on the Michel Strogoff dial, the colour of the hippopotamus skin in the 'Five Weeks in a Balloon' dial or the shading of the space and sea in the pieces inspired by 'From the Earth to the Moon' and 'Journey to the Center of the Earth' respectively.
The LM SE Legacy Machine Split Escapement was developed by independent watchmaker Stephen McDonnell for MB&F and it features a balance wheel suspended above the dial with the escapement (a mechanical linkage that gives impulses) wheel under the movement itself.
Manual winding, 35 jewels and 296 components, it vibrates at 18,000 bph and comes with a 72-hour power reserve.
The movement is housed in a red gold 44.5 m case, protected by a sapphire crystal on top, with anti-reflective coating on both faces and paired with a dark brown, hand-stitched alligator strap with red gold folding buckle matching the case. Water resistance is 30 metres but quite frankly I don't this watch is ever going to go anywhere near the water.
Only 8 pieces were made, each with a different engraving and each coming in with a hefty CHF148,000 (plus tax) price tag. And they're all sold out.