By Kien Lee | Photos by SENATUS
MB&F has unveiled yet another eye-catching timepiece, the Legacy Machine Thunderdome, boasting the world's fastest triple-axis regulating mechanism.
True to its modus operandi, the Thunderdome is a culmination of the joint efforts of "friends" of the brand (the "&F" in MB&F). This time, it is Eric Coudray and Kari Voutilainen. The former, an innovator known for his unorthodox, jaw-dropping complications, while the latter is a famed perfectionist and acclaimed pillar of traditional craftsmanship.
Given the charge to come up with "the craziest, most cinematic three-axis tourbillon ever," the TriAx mechanism was borne. It is a triple-axis rotating escapement with a stripped-down construction that exceeds what anyone else has been done before.
The TriAx improves upon the three-axis system with a two-cage configuration, reducing the need for a cage per rotational axis whilst allowing for unprecedented visibility into its beating, whirling heart.
The TriAx also innovates using the Potter escapement, which utilises a fixed escape wheel, instead of the mobile escape wheels seen in virtually every type of modern rotating escapement. The fixed escape wheel of the Potter escapement – named for 19th-century watchmaker and inventor Albert H. Potter – allows for higher rotational speeds in such a mechanism. This approach frees up more space, giving view to the hemispherical balance, wrapped around a helical hairspring.
The integration of a fixed escape wheel within a tri-axial rotating mechanism, a hemispherical balance over a helical hairspring... both are unprecedented in classical and modern watchmaking.
The TriAx forms the centrepiece of attention under the exaggerated arch of the sapphire crystal dome sitting above the dial plate, with the innermost structure completing one turn in 8 seconds, the intermediate cage rotating once every 12 seconds, and the outermost cage making one full rotation every 20 seconds. It can also afford to be larger than other mechanisms in similarly-sized watches, thanks to the offset axis of the outermost cage that increases the overall displacement of the balance.
Viewable from the caseback is the manual-winding, triple-barrel movement designed by Eric Coudray, beautified by Kari Voutilainen.
Smoothly rounded bridges, incorporating sharp hand-bevelled internal angles and mirrored curves bring forth a classically elegant touch. The ratchet wheels feature a whirlpool-like contour, created through a technique that is a Voutilainen secret, applied for the first time in an MB&F creation.
The LM Thunderdome is launched in two limited editions:
- 33 pieces in platinum 950, with a light-blue guilloché dial plate;
- 10 pieces in tantalum commemorating the 40th anniversary of Asia-Pacific retail group The Hour Glass
- five pieces bearing a dark-blue guilloché dial (seen in this photo feature)
- five pieces with an inlaid aventurine dial