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The One

For $280,000, This Clever MB&F Watch Turns Time on Its Side

The Legacy Machine Thunderdome boasts a tourbillon that rotates at the fastest speeds on the market.

For $280,000, This Clever MB&F Watch Turns Time on Its Side

The Legacy Machine Thunderdome boasts a tourbillon that rotates at the fastest speeds on the market.
relates to For $280,000, This Clever MB&F Watch Turns Time on Its Side
The MB&F Legacy Machine Thunderdome.
Photograph by Joanna McClure for Bloomberg Businessweek

Every year or so, Maximilian Büsser & Friends produces a new timepiece in a line it calls the “Legacy Machines,” which are an exercise in upending horological tradition. The watchmaker may twist dials into a vertical angle that offers a different view than the usual flat face or bend the bridges that secure the movement into dreamy, wishbonelike arches. For the $280,000 Legacy Machine Thunderdome, unveiled in December, MB&F joined wunderkind movement inventor Eric Coudray and perfectionist designer Kari Voutilainen to create a tourbillon that rotates on three axes at the quickest speed on the market.

THE COMPETITION

• If a bulbous, attention-grabbing piece of wrist bling is what you’re after, the Jacob & Co. Astronomia Flawless is the most audacious you’ll find. Featuring a full rotating Earth and a pea-size yellow diamond, it’ll set you back a galactic $1 million.

• Breguet can lay claim to the invention of the tourbillon itself, which the company’s founder patented in 1801. Its Double Tourbillon 5347 ($444,000 in platinum) displays two of them working in tandem set into a hand-engraved dial.

• Coudray also designed the mechanism at work in the unorthodox Cabestan Triple Axis Tourbillon, inspired by a sailing catamaran. Only 50 all-sapphire versions will be made; each retails for 265,000 Swiss francs ($270,000).

THE CASE

With a high dome and a dial that lifts away from the wrist, this timepiece isn’t one for the subtlety-inclined—yet it’s elegantly and minimally designed. From above, the Thunderdome appears to hold a tangle of blue titanium and brass, but up close its delicate complexity revolves into view. Rivulets carved into the guilloche face emphasize the relative simplicity of the dial, with its plain hour and minute hands. (The tourbillon rotates on its three axes in 8, 12, and 20 seconds, respectively, if you need to keep track of smaller increments.) MB&F will make only 33 of the watches in the current platinum model, which means it’s a collector’s piece that will stand as a testament to what elite watchmaking is capable of at this moment in time. $280,000