The touch of genius: Revealing the new H. Moser x MB&F Endeavour Cylindrical Tourbillon and the LM101 MB&F x H. Moser
What we have here ladies and gentlemen is the pièce de résistance of modern watchmaking. Introducing the two new H. Moser x MB&F Endeavour Cylindrical Tourbillon and the LM101 MB&F x H. Moser watches. It’s time to experience history in the making.
When someone like Edouard Meylan says to you about his upcoming creation — the one we are reviewing here today — that “this creation is nothing like what Moser has ever done before yet it is very Moser”, you are very stoked.
Then, a few days later when Maximilian Büsser says to you that “whatever happens (Covid-19 fallout) we continue to pave our way with crazy creativity. That is our purpose. And as usual it will depend on who crosses our path along the way,” you are even more stoked.
Both Büsser and Meylan have remained true to their words.
Despite Covid-19, both the brands have managed to pave the way with creative watches such as these new collaborations. You want to know what happens when they both cross each other’s paths? Perhaps the best watch brand to watch brand collaboration in my humble opinion.
Benchmarks of understated elegance, new watches like these in Meylan’s words are “the kind of new products that can open new doors and bring you to the next level”.
When Opposites Attract
I am going to make this one personal; after all, I am a fan of both MB&F and H. Moser & Cie. They are at the peak of independent watchmaking, and given their design language couldn’t be any more different to each other, I for one was curious about this collaboration of Performance Arts pieces. I wasn’t disappointed.
Albert Einstein once said, “It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.”
It is said that simplicity and complexity need each other. In the case of the new MB&F and H. Moser & Cie collaboration, when combined, instead of creating a contradiction, these watches end up being an oxymoron. Providing the right counterbalance to one another, despite moving in opposite directions of their usual watch designs, like a stroke of genius they end up being perhaps one of the best collaborations in memory.
It’s FlyingT meets Endeavour Concept meets Legacy Machine 101. It’s Yin meets Yang. It’s complex meets simple. It’s MB&F meets H. Moser & Cie. It’s legend meets legend.
This new collaboration reminds me of the Paula Abdul song, Opposites Attract. The lyrics to it were somewhat like this:
Who’d a thought we could be lovers
She makes the bed
And he steals the covers
She likes it neat
And he makes a mess
We come together
Cuz opposites attract
And you know–it ain’t fiction
Just a natural fact
We come together
Cuz opposites attract
Who would have thought that an independent watchmaker that makes intricate and almost out-of-this-world watches like the Bulldog would marry its complex style with the watchmaker that makes whistle clean stripped bare and irresistibly simple dials such as in watches like the H. Moser & Cie Endeavour Concept. But there you have it. Not one but two ventures. Just like the song lyrics, who would have thought that MB&F and H. Moser & Cie could be partners, one liking it complex, one liking it neat, but they come together, cuz opposites attract, and no it ain’t fiction, they indeed have come together.
Presenting the new H. Moser x MB&F Endeavour Cylindrical Tourbillon and The LM101 MB&F x H. Moser.
The F in MB&F
This collaboration coincidently marks both brand’s 15th anniversary in existence and over a decade long partnership (H. Moser & Cie’s sister company Precision Engineering AG supplies MB&F with balance springs). Throw into the mix an array of colourful fumé dials, friendship between two men with shared values and mutual respect, and what you get is a striking new series of 135 watch pieces in various combinations. Stunning, yes. Very rare, yes. Have I got you curious yet? Hopefully, yes.
The watches are impressive not just as objects d’art but also as an expression of fine watchmaking. Both the brands have innovated and used new and never used before elements in their movements, with MB&F using a double hairspring for the first time and H. Moser & Cie using a cylindrical hairspring for the first time.
There is a quote by Khang Kijarro Nguyen that reads, “avant-garde art is yoga for the mind.” I think when it came to flexing the brain muscles and designing something so unique, both brands have ended up creating an avant-garde pièce de résistance collection.
If I had to choose between these offerings, I would say that the magnum opus of the variants is the scintillating Red LM101 MB&F x H. Moser.
The LM101 MB&F x H. Moser
The new LM101 MB&F x H. Moser is essentially MB&F taking its Legacy Machine 101 and re-creating it with H. Moser & Cie design elements. If you would remember, when LM101 was first introduced, it was a smaller version (40mm) of the Legacy Machine No.1 (44mm). Right there in the centre of the dial was the suspended “flying” balance wheel, ruling over the dial in all its glory. Next to it at 2’o clock was a white sub-dial displaying hours and minutes by blued-gold hands. Below it at 6’o clock was the 45-hour power reserve indicator displayed in a much smaller sub-dial.
The New Aesthetic Part
The new LM101 MB&F x H. Moser takes this very concept but strips it even more bare, Moser style. Even though it retains the same case dimensions of 40mm x 16mm and the same power-reserve, the two pristine-white sub-dials don’t exist any more, but what does remain in their place are simply the hands sweeping across the clarity only a Moser fumé dial can provide. The branding that existed in LM101 between the two sub-dials has also gone, in homage to Moser’s “back to basics” approach of Concept watch series. This time around the watches are created in stainless steel instead of precious materials, and are presented in four variations: Red fumé, Cosmic Green fumé, Aqua Blue fumé — reserved for Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons — and Funky Blue fumé.
The New Mechanics Part
The central balance wheel has been completely redesigned on the new LM101 MB&F x H. Moser to work in sync with the fumé dials. The best aspect about this is the use of a double balance spring for the first time by MB&F. This new springs help reduce the friction effect normally encountered with a single balance spring and also aides in increasing the precision as they help displace the point of gravity. The movement still features the curved plates and bridges designed by award-winning independent watchmaker Kari Voutilainen but in a more contemporary manner using subtle NAC treatment to enhance its beauty.
The heart used — calibre LM101 — is a manual winding (with single mainspring barrel) three-dimensional horological movement conceived and developed in-house by MB&F with movement aesthetics and finishing specifications by Kari Voutilainen. It features the Straumann® double hairspring (for the first time in a MB&F watch) along with a bespoke 14mm balance wheel with four traditional regulating screws floating above the movement. It beats at the low frequency of 2.5Hz (18’000 A/h). It comprises of 23 jewels, features 221 components and boasts of a decent 45-hour power reserve.
The movement is encased inside a 40mm diameter and a large 16mm thick stainless steel 316 case. The large thickness is due to the presence of a high domed crystal sapphire on top with anti-reflective coating on both sides. The watch also has a sapphire crystal on the display case-back through which the superlative 19th century-style hand finishing, Geneva waves, hand-made engravings and NAC black bridges can be admired.
The watch face shows a large balance wheel suspended above the dial in the centre and the traditional functions of hours and minutes, along with a power-reserve indicator.
It is the Red fumé that’s got us bowled over. Despite featuring no embellishment, indices or logo, the red (and the rest of them as a matter of fact) dial stands out with its daring and surprising burst of electric red. Reminiscent of the Burgundy fumé dial of the Moser Endeavour Concept watch, its buttery smooth and slick gradient fumé appeal is only enhanced with the sunburst pattern seeming to stem and radiate from the central suspended balance wheel.
The Man himself Part
On the genesis of this design, Maximilian Büsser says: “When I called Edouard to tell him that I wanted to collaborate on a creation, I mentioned that I really liked the double balance-spring, the Moser fumé dials and the Concept watch series. Edouard immediately told me that he would let me borrow these features, but on condition that he could also reinterpret one of my machines. After an initial moment of surprise, I gave it some thought. Being 50% Indian and 50% Swiss, I am firmly convinced that mixing DNA creates interesting results, so why not try the experiment in watchmaking?”
“I therefore agreed and suggested the FlyingT model, which is particularly dear to my heart.”
The H. Moser x MB&F Endeavour Cylindrical Tourbillon
The new H. Moser x MB&F Endeavour Cylindrical Tourbillon is essentially H. Moser & Cie taking MB&F’s FlyingT and re-creating it with their own Endeavour concept design elements. If you would remember, when the FlyingT was first introduced, it was a smaller 38.5mm diameter watch. Moser has now increased this to a larger 42mm. The original MB&F Legacy Machine FlyingT is a GPHG wonder that’s got a legacy of its own. Released without diamonds in 2020, I remember reviewing it as a ‘beast of a horological wonder’. It was released in two variations of 18 pieces (each) representing the night and day in precious metals.
The New Aesthetic Part
The new watch still measures almost 20mm (19.5mm to be precise) thick thanks to the huge domed sapphire crystal. Instead on one monolithic block of exposed movement of the FlyingT, the new H. Moser x MB&F Endeavour Cylindrical Tourbillon features two apertures or sub-dials. The ventricular opening at 12’o clock features a one-minute flying tourbillon that rises above the main dial through that is equipped with a cylindrical balance spring. The latter has been used for the first time in a H. Moser & Cie watch though has a precedence of its use in MB&F’s LM Thunderdome.
Below it at 6’o clock is the tilted hour and minute sub-dial that is inclined inclined at 40° — the original has a 50° vertically titled dial with two blued serpentine hands at 7’o clock — for the wearer of the watch to have an exclusive view. This sub-dial is mounted on a conical gear train ensuring optimal torque transmission from one plane to the other. This time around the watches are created in stainless steel again instead of precious materials, and are presented in five fumé dial variations: Funky Blue, Cosmic Green, Burgundy, Off-White or Ice Blue.
The New Mechanics Part
It’s not necessarily a new invention, given it’s been around since the 18th century, nonetheless the cylindrical balance spring is the star of this show.
Reminiscent of a worm or corkscrew, it rises perpendicularly around the upper rod of the balance staff. It works perfectly along the axis of its pivots giving it a significant advantage over the flat balance spring, whose opposite ends tend to exert forces on the pivots, despite the Philips or Breguet terminal curves which were specifically developed to partially correct the non-concentric opening of the balance spring. Fitted with a Breguet overcoil at both attachment points, the cylindrical balance spring reduces pivot friction and greatly improves isochronism. Due to its specific shape, the cylindrical balance spring is far more difficult to produce and takes ten times longer to make than a traditional balance spring.
The heart used — calibre HMC 810 — is an automatic winding, three-dimensional vertical architecture movement. It features a bi-directional pawl winding system and offers a one-minute flying tourbillon at 12’o clock with skeletonised bridges.
It is fairly different compared to the specifications of the original FlyingT calibre that beat at the low frequency of 2.5Hz (18’000 A/h), comprised of 30 jewels, featured 280 components and boasts of a very impressive 100-hour power reserve. The new calibre HMC 810 beats at the increased frequency of 3Hz (21’600 A/h), comprises of 29 jewels, features 184 components and boasts of a still impressive 72-hour (minimum) power reserve.
The 32mm x 5.5mm movement of the new H. Moser x MB&F Endeavour Cylindrical Tourbillon is encased inside a 42mm diameter and 19.5mm thick steel case. The large thickness again is due to the presence of a high domed crystal sapphire on top, and if you ignore that, the watch is pretty sleek coming in at 9.4mm. The watch also has a sapphire crystal on the display case-back through which the oscillating weight in 18-carat gold with engraved H. Moser & Cie. logo can be admired.
The watch face shows a flying cylindrical tourbillon and the traditional functions of hours and minutes but displayed on a 40° vertically titled dial with two leaf-shaped hour and minute hands (blued on the reference 1810-1203).
It is the above reference, the Off-White fumé dial variation that’s got us bowled over. The subtle use of blued hands relay adds an extra layer of details compared to the rest of the variations, though I must admit that the Cosmic Green version is worth drooling over too. One quirk I noticed that’s probably not done on purpose is that the blacked conical gear train visually appears to be like a palm of an hand, holding the tilted hour and minute sub-dial like a trophy.
The Man himself Part
On the genesis of this design, Edouard Meylan explains: “We have Moserized the MB&F universe by developing a sapphire sub-dial, which melts into the background so as to highlight the beauty of our fumé dials.”
“And to preserve the purity and elegance of this true work of horological art, we have inscribed our logo like a watermark on the sapphire sub-dial, thereby underlining the personal character and intimate relationship binding it to its owner”.
Watch Ya Gonna Do About It
Collaborations in the watch industry and nothing new. Hodinkee x watch are a plenty. Swatch is a master of these, and has had various collaborations in the past such as Keith Haring. Or JLC and Ferdinand Hodler. Or Revolution x Zenith like the El Primero A3818 Revival ‘Cover Girl’. Or the Breitling Premier Bentley Mulliner Limited Edition to name a few. But collaborations between two technically competing independent watch brands — both fighting for a select, niche client base— are few and far between. To take a page out of H. Moser & Cie’s marketing, they are very rare indeed. Next comes the issue of who wins? I mean which brand gets more credit? Whose design language is more prominent?
Defeating all of these concerns are the new H. Moser x MB&F Endeavour Cylindrical Tourbillon and the LM101 MB&F x H. Moser. One of the best aspects of these releases as a whole is that the watches equally bear the design language of both brands, to a point where one would think that both these brands co-existed as one! And the reason for this is simple if you understand that when it comes to MB&F, collaborations have been their cornerstone from day one. The ‘F’ in MB&F after all stands for Friends. Their Performance Art pieces are usually a testimony to that. In-fact the brand’s first collaboration dates back to 2009 when the Californian artist Sage Vaughn transformed their HM2 into a Piece Unique for Only Watch. So as much as these collaborations are usually not common, it didn’t come as a complete surprise to me. It was however, a welcome change, given both these watchmakers have very different styles and architectural codes and design languages. Being able to combine their respective horological DNA and create timepieces that are literally the embodiment of art on a wrist, is simply praiseworthy.
It also didn’t come as a complete surprise to me because I was expecting something like this. How you may ask? Honestly, I was lucky enough to interview both Büsser and Meylan recently and while they didn’t reveal the details, they both did give me a heads up.
The brain behind MB&F said: “We have an array of very exciting new creations in the pipeline – starting with an amazing ‘Performance art’ piece we hope to unveil early June.”
In a similar vein, the force behind H. Moser & Cie said: “There is one other big launch coming up soon. This is a collaboration that we developed with another brand. Such a collaboration has never been done at this level”.
I don’t like using this word too often, but co-signed by the two brands, these new watches are very disruptive. Especially disruptive in the present watch industry that’s suffered a blow due to Covid-19 and for majority of the part refuses to release anything new or different. There are only so many rehashed versions of the same watch that collectors can look at before getting disenchanted.
In terms of who are watches like these new ones intended for, well Büsser elaborated on this as well: “The watch aficionado who actually purchase a piece because they are knowledgeable and passionate. Watch aficionados make up the large majority of our clients”.
Whether you are a seasoned watch collector or a newbie, there is no denying the charm of these new releases. Like we said at the beginning, it has definitely taken a touch of genius, and a lot of courage for these two brands to keep aside any egos and move successfully in the opposite direction of what they are accustomed to. Hat’s off and keep’em comin’.
To find out more about these and other watches from these brands, head to their respective sites here (for MB&F) and here (for H. Moser & Cie). The LM101 MB&F x H. Moser costs 53’000 CHF while the Endeavour Cylindrical Tourbillon H. Moser x MB&F costs 79’000 CHF. All photos Courtesy of MB&F and H. Moser & Cie.