Independent watchmaker MB&F is known for some of the most creative watches in the business, often taking cues from wild inspirations ranging from jellyfish and bulldogs to aliens and spaceships. So, it may come as a surprise that in 2022 the company is delivering its first chronograph—and that the idea for the piece was born out of a casual conversation over a pocket watch. Designed in collaboration with watchmaker Stephen McDonnell, who previously worked with the brand on its LM Perpetual watch, the new LM Sequential EVO — which is equipped with the company’s 20th calibre in 17 years— is not only a first for the brand, but it’s also the first chronograph to allow multiple timing modes, including split-second and lap timer modes thanks to a “Twinverter” binary switch.
But before we get into how it works, here’s a little backstory on how it was born. MB&F founder Maximillian Büsser and McDonnell were having dinner in Dubai when Büsser decided to show off his latest acquisition—a split-second chronograph pocket watch that he says he was very proud of and bought for a steal. McDonnell was less than impressed, however. “He just looks at it and he goes, ‘Hmm…Max, do you agree that split-second chronographs are pointless?,” Büsser told Robb Report. He pointed out that one can’t really time a race because, for instance, as soon as a car goes around its first tour or lap, it would be impossible to continue accurately taking lap measurements.
So, what did Mad Max and his fellow watchmaking wizard come up with? On the LM Sequential EVO there is one movement operating two chronographs that can track multiple timing modes. To begin with, the right chronograph (the oversized counter at 3 o’clock for seconds and the smaller counter at 11 o’clock for minutes) is activated or stopped by the top right pusher, while the left chronograph (at 9 o’clock for the seconds and the smaller counter at 1 o’clock for minutes) is activated or stopped by the top left pusher. The bottom left and right pushers are used to reset their respective coordinating chronographs. A binary “Twinverter” pusher, so named because it essentially inverts whatever status both chronographs are in, is located on the middle left of the caseband and it can activate or stop both chronographs at once. In addition, if one chronograph is running and the other is stopped, the Twinverter can also stop the one that is running and start the other that is stopped.
Each chronograph can be individually stopped to determine, for instance in an automotive race, which car had the better time on the lap. “Let’s say the first car has arrived, so you hit stop. The second car has arrived, and you hit stop. You basically have a split second now but displayed in a much easier-to-read way and in a much more comfortable mode,” says Charris Yadigaroglou, MB&F’s head of marketing and communications. Unlike the majority of regular chronographs, the events can exceed 60 seconds. If you want to time multiple laps, you would start the right chronograph for lap one and then push the Twinverter to stop the right chronograph and start the left chronograph for lap two. To reset the right chronograph to prepare for lap three you activate the lower right-hand pusher then push the Twinverter again to stop lap two on the left chronograph and begin lap three on the right chronograph. To reset the left chronograph for lap four, you would activate the lower left-hand pusher.
This is leaps and bounds better than timing with a normal chronograph, where you would have to stop the counter and write down the time and start it again, but by then the second lap would have already started and your timing would already be off. With MB&F’s new and improved version, you can stop the time on the first lap while the timing for the second has started immediately with no lag, allowing you enough time to record the reading in the meantime. “You can do that indefinitely for 100 laps if you want,” says Yadigaroglou.
But MB&F’s chronograph can be practical for everyday activities. As Charris Yadigaroglou, MB&F’s head of marketing and communications, explained, the smaller minute counters at the top of the dial can also be used for circuit training in a workout. If you want to break a sweat for a 30-minute session, you can run the top right minute counter, and within that session, you want to do various timed exercises, which you can time on the second top left minute counter, so you can track both simultaneously and restart the left-hand minute counter when a new interval begins on a new exercise. Offering another example, Yadigaroglou says, “You’re doing two things in parallel, so you could be in the kitchen making pasta on one side and putting something in the oven on the other side.” Or let’s say you want to record how much time you are spending on two projects you are working on in parallel. You can start one of the chronographs as you begin work on one task and then activate the Twinverter when you begin another task for a separate project and switch again when you return to the first endeavor, allowing you to record times as you toggle back and forth.
What looks like an ultra-complicated timepiece on the surface—and it is, the LM Sequential EVO is indeed a feat of watchmaking mechanics, technically speaking, with 585 components and a movement that required five years of research—is actually the most logical, accurate and easy-to-use chronograph ever made. “Stephen is—obviously, I will say—the only genius that ever met,” says Büsser. “He’s insane.” In case you need more proof, McDonnell, who also previously worked on MB&F’s award-winning LM Perpetual, was a theology scholar from Oxford before becoming a self-taught watchmaker. Sometimes it takes someone not mired in conventions and traditional training to execute a practical improvement on an old-school invention.
While the 44 mm by 18.2 mm zirconium-cased (which is lighter than steel and more durable than titanium) LM Sequential EVO is not a limited piece, it will certainly be limited in production and at US$180,000 (just over RM794,000) for both the orange and coal-black dial versions, you likely won’t see too many of these in the wild.
Previously published on Robb Report.