MB&F continues to extend their EVO lineup, with the new LM Split Escapement EVO. We got a hands-on and photography session with this novelty, and bring this you review as the embargo lifts for this watch.
This novelty is the extension in two directions, so to speak. It extends the earlier LM Split Escapement and merging it with the active lifestyle EVO collection. This means that the innovative LM Split Escapement movement is now encased in the sporty EVO, with some tweaks. This brings the new EVO to three – with the LM Perpetual EVO (itself an extension of the LM Perpetual) and LM Sequential EVO (only available in the EVO guise. At least for now, though when asked if a regular LM Sequential is in the works, MB&F is understandably mum) being the other two.
New and Reviewed: MB&F LM Split Escapement EVO
Retail price for the MB&F LM Split Escapement EVO is SGD 117,000 with GST / CHF 75,000, USD 80,000 before taxes. Limited Edition of 25 pieces, available only in MB&F LABs in Paris, Singapore (opening soon in September 2022) and Beverly Hills. Deliveries begins now.
The LM Split Escapement which was released in 2017 (see link for detailed discussion and review on the innovations of this watch in our 2017 hands-on review). It received a new dial variant in 2019 with a beautiful green dial, and again in 2020 in a special 8 piece collaboration with Eddy Jaquet.
With this latest announcement, MB&F releases the LM Split Ecapapement EVO…this novelty is not a totally new watch. The LM Split Escapement EVO was first released as a limited edition for the UAE 50th anniversary in 2021, which is available exclusively at the M.A.D. Gallery in Dubai.
With today’s announcement MB&F is making this new watch with new dial executions. This time with an icy cool light blue dial plate with grey sub-dials. A second version is planned, known as the Beverly Hills model, but we did not see the watch, and will not discuss it. This review is of the ice blue dial version in titanium, which is a limited edition of 25 pieces.
We did not cover the earlier UAE special edition (was a UAE only release), but the difference of the EVO design from the regular LM Split Escapement is that the dial is rotated clockwise by 30 degrees. This breaks the near perfect symmetry of the 2017 release. This gives the EVO releases a totally new character. This new release is the exact same watch as the UAE edition, but with a different dial execution and is now available worldwide.
As the EVO concept is designed for the intended usage in active lifestyle, the watch features 8m of water resistance, a screw down crown, an integrated rubber strap and Super-LumiNova on the indices. The watch also features a full domed sapphire glass covering the entire face of the watch for a bezel free design. The EVO concept also uses a special case design with a world premier – the shock absorbing FlexRing system which provides damping of vertical and horizontal shocks.
The EVO concept was first released in the LM Perpetual EVO in 2020, followed by the LM Sequential EVO in 2022. It happens that all three movements are developed with Stephen McDonnell, and feature outside the box thinking to create unique movements.
The Split Escapement is the simplest of them, and uses the method to move the escapement’s balance wheel to separate from the anchor system, a system first used in the LM Perpetual. Not only for the visual impact it provides, but also in the ingenuity involved. The system was invented to solve a specific problem which arose from the design of the LM Perpetual. The watch had featured a very complex mechanism to enable the bi-directional time setting. The complexity was displayed dial side, and took up the space normally used in LM watches meant that the escapement which is suspended above the dial. Stephen solved the problem in a simple, elegant, but ingenious idea.
He made the balance staff very long, such that would traverse the entire movement, leaving the large balance wheel on its own, on the front of the watch, and moving the remaining parts of the escapement – anchor and escape wheel – to the opposite side of the movement, almost 12 mm below; hence the name ‘Split Escapement’.
Call this trickle down technology, but even in the simplest form, it is impressive. And MB&F decided to showcase it in the LM Split Escapement. The simplicity of the Split Escapement, without the complexity of the visible perpetual calendar mechanism reinforces the concept of the floating escape wheel. The balance seems to oscillate on its own, as the driving escapement with the pallet fork and escape wheel are located all the way to the back of the movement.
The movement used in the LM Split Escapement EVO remains unchanged from the introduction model. The dial look is radically different, but this does not affect the movement and requires no modification. Note the crown moves by the same amount as the dial offset.
The movement is manual-winding and comprise of 298-components driven by double barrels providing 72 hours of power reserve, and features a user-friendly, foolproof rapid date-changing system using a pusher at the 10 o’clock position (was at 8 o’clock in the non EVO LM Split). Movement finishing is very well done, and is at the top end of the haute horlogerie scale.
The pricing trend for the LM Split Escapement is interesting as well. The introduction model was released as 4 sets of 18 piece limited editions, and was only available in white gold. The retail in 2017 was EUR 79k. The followup titanium cased green dial version was released in 2019 and retail was CHF 64k.
The current EVO model is slated to release at CHF 75k. All the earlier version are sold out, and at the time of writing, the MB&F Certified Pre-owned Shop has a piece of LM Split in Titanium with green dial at CHF 95k. Giving this secondary price point, the CHF 75k asking price of the new EVO is extremely fair. Of interest to us, of course the upwards trend of MB&F pieces, an indication of the demand for these watches and a testament to the unique design, execution and of course the quality of MB&F watches.
The watch has a ultra cool vibe going, and the 44mm case does wear a bit on the large side. The rubber strap is pliable and is very comfortable on the wrist. The winding of the movement is smooth with a pleasurable resistance and feedback.
But what is most striking is the icy blue dial baseplate. And the bezel-less dial side with its domed sapphire glass covering the entire face. This offers a very interesting tactile feel as one runs one’s fingers over the upper side of the watch. Also making its visual impact is the off cantered dial layout with the prominence of its V shaped arms of the balance bridge, the hour and minute sub-dial also offset at about 2 o’clock makes for an interesting dynamic on the dial. We find this very cool.
The watch was photographed in The Hour Glass offices in Singapore. Fujifilm GFX 50S II with Hasselblad HC 2.8/80 with H26 and HC 4/120 Macro via H Adapter G. Profoto strobes were used.
MB&F LM Split Escapement EVO Specifications
Legacy Machine Split Escapement EVO is available in two versions:
– Ti version: grade 5 titanium case with pastel blue baseplate and dark grey dials. (this review)
– Beverly Hills edition: limited edition of 25 pieces in grade 5 titanium case with black baseplate and blue dials. (not reviewed)
Movement developed for MB&F by Stephen McDonnell.
Split escapement with the balance wheel suspended above the dial and the anchor under the movement.
Manual winding with double mainspring barrels.
Bespoke 14mm balance wheel with traditional regulating screws visible on top of the movement.
Superlative hand finishing throughout respecting 19th-century style; bevelled internal angles highlighting hand craft; polished bevels; Geneva waves; hand-made engravings.
FlexRing: an annular dampener fitted between case and movement, providing shock protection along the vertical and lateral axes.
Super-LumiNova on numerals and hands.
Screw down crown.
Power reserve: 72 hours
Balance frequency: 2.5Hz / 18,000bph
Number of components: 298
Number of jewels: 35
Functions & indications
Hours, minutes, date and power-reserve indicators.
Push-button next to the date dial for quick adjustment of the date.
Material: grade 5 titanium
Dimensions: 44 x 17.5mm
Number of components: 52
Water resistance: 80m / 8ATM / 270 feet
Sapphire crystals on top and display back treated with anti-reflective coating on both faces.
Strap & buckle
Integrated rubber strap with titanium folding buckle.