For over 15 years now, MB&F has embodied its name: the eponymous Max Büsser collaborates with friends and brands he reveres to create stunning horological masterpieces. The watches are highly regarded; in 2021, two MB&F timepieces each won awards at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève. In 2020, MB&F sought to collaborate with one of haute horlogerie’s independent darlings, H. Moser, celebrating 15th anniversaries for both brands. Two models were born of the partnership, one under H. Moser and one under MB&F. The latter produced the LM101 MB&F x H. Moser Cosmic Green (just one of several colors offered).
Despite finding its roots in the midst of the Russian Empire, H. Moser as we know it today has only been in operation since its relaunch in 2005. The brand prides itself on being entirely Swiss made, and one of few brands who puts their money where their mouth is when it comes to “in-house” manufacture. Aside from having a comprehensive movement manufacturing facility in Schaffhausen, Moser’s sister company Preciflex manufactures hairsprings for a wide range of watch brands throughout the industry (including for MB&F). Moser is arguably most well know for its Concept collection, which use the brand’s signature fumé dials devoid of branding or indices.
Founded the same year as H. Moser’s rebirth, MB&F is quite the opposite: the watchmaker produces some of the most mechanically and visually complicated timepieces in the world. The brands both, however, combine modern design with classic sophistication, and so the collaboration is not as far-fetched as it seems at a glance. The piece considered herein was born of mutual respect: Mr. Büsser called H. Moser CEO Edouard Meylan seeking partnership to create a piece for MB&F, hoping to borrow the former’s hallmark dials and aesthetics. It was Meylan who replied–and I’m paraphrasing–“I will if you will.” After ironing out the details, what emerged were two separate but clearly related watches, one under each brand, each borrowing from the other.
The first thing to understand is that the LM101 MB&F x H.Moser is not really about telling time. Like many watches at this level of the market, it is a demonstration of the watchmaker’s ability to design and execute new and exciting ideas. You can think of it as performance art, and MB&F does just that, placing this in its lineup of “Performance Art” pieces. The centerpiece of the watch is the dial-side flying double balance spring. Oversized at 14mm, the double balance spring is a signature of H. Moser, each spring counters the other’s displacement, allowing for greater isochronism. The mechanism is suspended over the dial by a dramatically sculpted support crafted from a single piece of metal and hand-polished. Also visible on the dial is the escapement, centered between the feet of the support structure.
The LM101 MB&F x H. Moser is offered in four colors–blue, red, green, and another blue exclusive to a Middle Eastern boutique–each limited to just 15 pieces. The dial itself is rendered in a stunning “cosmic” green fumé that bursts from the center of the dial before fading to black at the periphery. Having the MB&F x H. Moser LM101 on the wrist is a breathtaking display of light, with the color and lustre shifting with every turn. The Moser Concept design ethos is also embraced: Unlike the standard LM101, which features lacquered white subdials for the 2 o’clock time and 6 o’clock power reserve displays, the collaboration piece omits both subdials, with the polished feuille-shaped hands traveling directly against the dial.
The case is the same as is found on other MB&F Legacy Machines, with a few differences. The 40mm case is made of stainless steel, with a horizontally brushed flat-sided caseband and vertically brushed lugs that look like they’re floating on account of the notch where each lug meets the case. Both the top of the lugs and the bezel are high-polished, as are the chamfers on the lugs, which feature a precipitous curve down to hug the wrist. That’s a good thing, since the massive domed sapphire that accommodates the flying balance has the watch sitting at 16mm thick. A screw down crown with the MB&F logo is located at 4 o’clock and ensures 30m of water resistance. The watch is paired with a hand-stitched calfskin strap featuring a branded deployant buckle.
“Inner Workings” is a bit of a misnomer here, as the movement’s heart is on full display on the dial. That said, the movement features the same beautiful craftsmanship and finishing as one would expect from these two brands. We’ve already talked about the jumbo double balance (made by Moser sister brand Straumann) and escapement, so let’s flip the watch over and look at the rest of the mechanism, visible through screwed-down sapphire caseback.
The LM101 features MB&F’s first in-house movement, made in collaboration with the legendary independent watchmaker Kari Voutilainen. The manual wound movement features 221 components, including 23 jewels with gold chatons with polished countersinks. The finishing is decidedly antique in nature: the Glashütte ribbing, perlage, polished bevels, and especially the engraved script are reminiscent of finishing found on vintage pocket watches. The single-barrel mainspring offers 45 hours of power reserve and the gearing works at 18,000 vph. Practically, that means a (very slightly) slower swing to the dial-side balance, which means a more dramatic visual display.
Versus the Competition
The hard truth is that there’s nothing quite like the MB&F LM101, and even fewer like the LM101 MB&F x H. Moser. The only watches that come close are other MB&Fs (other Moser’s lack the impressive dial architecture that make the Legacy Machines what they are). While it may not have the same aesthetics, the Pioneer Perpetual from H. Moser offers a similarly stunning fumé dial—this time in a deep crimson—and trades the visual thrill of the flying balance for the practicality of a perpetual calendar, all in one of the brand’s best cases. Other exceptional brands offer a flavor of the LM101, if only in small amounts. The F.P. Journe Octa Lune also has an offset subsidiary time dial, set in a sea of frosted rose gold with moonphase and power reserve complications; it’s a more traditional aesthetic but features a comparably beautiful execution that dazzles in its own way. For a more modern option with added depth while still utilizing a small dial for the time, the Romain Gauthier Insight Micro-Rotor features an exposed and brilliantly finished movement components on the dial side—it’s also much more wearable at 12.5mm thick.
This watch is all about flair, modernity, and pushing the limits. There’s an idea embodied by this watch of revealing just a bit of what lay beneath—demonstrating depth without revealing one’s depths. It’s a delicate balance that the MB&F x H. Moser LM101 strikes perfectly, and that the owner must strike as well. The LM101 will be best accompanied by the finest style, with clean and modern lines and a bit of sprezzatura.
The MB&F x H. Moser LM101 Legacy Machine brings two of modern horology’s finest watchmaking brands together for a truly astonishing timepiece. With its flying balance and pared down display, it is at once simple and complex, an exercise in balance. One last tidbit to leave you with — how many audiophiles noticed the detail of the display box for this model? Yep, that’s mighty close to a Bang & Olufsen Beoplay A9, isn’t it?