The dial of each unique showpiece depicts the French author’s novels reimagined by the talented engraver’s extraordinary skill and imagination.
For the first time, MB&F shines the spotlight on traditional artisan, Eddy Jaquet, in a series of eight LM Split Escapement Eddy Jaquet Limited Edition timepieces. Each of the unique red gold creations depicts the novels of Jules Verne, realised by the Neuchatel-based engraver’s extraordinary skill and imagination.
While seasoned MB&F connoisseurs will be familiar with Jaquet’s work, he is recognised in rarefied circles of independent watchmaking aficionados as the man whose magical touch can turn a watch into a rich tapestry that tells a story. The flowing script you see on the Legacy Machine engines is created by Jaquet’s hand, but it is the merest hint of his true artistic talent. MB&F’s founder, Maximilian Büsser, puts things in perspective, “We’ve worked with Eddy for years, but getting Eddy Jaquet to engrave names on movements is like playing Für Elise on a Stradivarius violin – you couldn’t imagine a more modest use of such an amazing gift.”
In a way, the uniting theme of the LM Split Escapement Eddy Jaquet Limited Edition was inevitable. Says Büsser, “We’re brainstorming around the table, and a theme that comes immediately to mind is the writing of Jules Verne, because I’m so into science fiction, and because the Legacy Machine collection that Eddy has been working on is basically the watch that I would have created if MB&F was founded 150 years ago.”
Thanks to its wide surface available for engraving, the Legacy Machine Split Escapement (LM SE) was a natural choice for this incredible collaboration. For research, Jaquet devoured up to 60 novels and short stories by Jules Verne. The final eight stories selected to be illustrated in the limited-edition series include some of the prolific 19th-century French author’s beloved works and lesser-known stories: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, From the Earth to the Moon, Around the World in Eighty Days, Five Weeks in a Balloon, The Adventures of Captain Hatteras, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Michael Strogoff and Robur the Conqueror.
A noteworthy fact is that none of these illustrations were drawn from an existing piece of art. They were entirely conceived by Jaquet after reading the source books by Jules Verne and viewing other secondary films or creative work based on the books. Each engraving is an intricate tableau of scenes and key moments from the stories, as imagined by Jaquet and interpreted through the medium of the LM SE engine.
Several adjustments were made to the original LM Split Escapement to maximise the available engraving space and allow Jaquet to exhibit his savoir-faire to the fullest. New, openworked date and power-reserve subdials were created, along with wider dial plates. The bezel was redesigned to be slimmer, and the case dimensions reworked, in order to make space for the wider dial plate. Additionally, a new dial crystal with a less pronounced dome curve had to be produced to accommodate the resized bezel and 44.5mm by 18.2mm case.
To fully bring out each illustrated scene, Jaquet applied a dark rhodium alloy by hand, adjusting the shading of each detail according to the requirements of the scene. For instance, the smoke of the fire on the Michael Strogoff dial required an attenuated touch, while the underground sea depicted on the Journey to the Centre of the Earth dial incorporated gradient-shading techniques. Between the redesign of a number of components and the actual execution of the engraved dial itself, over 300 hours of additional labour were required for each unique piece of the LM SE Eddy Jaquet Limited Edition.
(All images: MB&F)