alain silberstein adds a bit of pop to MB&F’s LM1 with his signature use of bold shapes + colors




in 2009, MB&F called on french watch designer alain silberstein to create its very first ‘performance art’ piece that featured reinterpretations by external artists and designers of existing MB&F machines. the resulting timepiece was the HM2.2 ‘black box’, followed by a long list of collaborations with other creators for which the swiss company’s ‘performance art’ series was born.

alain silberstein MBandF designboom
the ‘LM1 silberstein’ is characterized by the french watch designer’s use of bright colors and shapes




now, silberstein—who left the safety of working in his trained profession as an interior designer to found his on watch brand— brings forth his take on MB&F’s classic ‘legacy machine N°1’ (LM1), imbuing it with his unique flair for the unconventional. the ‘LM1 silberstein’ employs the french creative’s signature use of primary colors and geometric shapes: red, blue and yellow; with triangles, rectangles and circles for the hands and dial markers—three-dimensionally translated as a cone, cube and sphere for the power reserve—silberstein catches the eye as they contrast against the more subdued movement plate below. but, it is the concave curve of the subdials that highlights the artist’s philosophical approach the most. while the convex sapphire crystal dome and balance bridge offer protection from outside forces, the concave subdials, rather than the convex ones of the original LM1, attract and welcome the ‘eternal time’ of the universe with movement on a more human scale; where it is transformed and displayed as two completely independent time zones. naturally, the hands are similarly concave so they seamlessly complement the curvature of the dials. alain silberstein MBandF designboom
triangles, rectangles, and circles are translated into cones, cubes and spheres, acting as hands and dial markers




the re-interpretation of the classic timepiece sees silberstein replacing the original dual arches of the ‘LM1’ balance bridge with a single, transparent sapphire crystal one, allowing full visual access to the time indications and dial-side escapement. it took two years of development to create this bridge element to the incredibly tight tolerances required to support the balance wheel—a lot of work for an elegantly shaped component that is essentially designed to be invisible. MB&F LM1 silberstein watch designboom




the color and shapes of the concave hands highlight silberstein’s meticulously practical approach to artistic design. three primary colors found on the subdials—red and blue hands, yellow index markers—are echoed in the three shapes—blue cone, red cube, and yellow sphere—of the three-dimensional power reserve indicator. when one reads the time, the hour is generally the first bit of information required, so the hour hands are rendered in a bright red color, indicated on a larger, triangular surface area, in contrast to the thinner blue minute hands. six-pointed star-shaped crowns (comprising two overlapping triangles) offer tactile pleasure when being wound, while also reinforcing the collaborative aspect of this performance art pieces: the shapes and colors of the crown are purely silberstein, while the battle-axe logo represents MB&F. the french watch designer uses contrasts and materials to surreptitiously guide the eye to key elements on the dial: the hands are brightly colored and high gloss, while the underlying dials and movement plates feature more subdued colors with matte finishes. ‘I like playing with materials and finishes. the more matte there is, the more the high polish pops,’ says alain silberstein.
MB&F LM1 silberstein watch designboom
the convex sapphire crystal dome and balance bridge offer protection from outside forces




from the inside, the ‘LM1 silberstein’ employs the ingenious three-dimensional movement that was specifically developed for MB&F by founder maximilian büsser; realized by jean-françois mojon, and his team at chronode, together with independent watchmaker kari voutilainen. the balance wheel and spring at the very heart of any mechanical watch movement are responsible for regulating timekeeping accuracy. büsser has long been fascinated by the large slowly oscillating balance wheels of antique pocket watches—18,000 bph compared with the 28,000 bph common today—so it is no surprise that this was the starting point from which to let his fertile imagination roam free. what is most surprising though is how radically he has re-interpreted tradition by relocating the balance wheel from its more usual position, hidden at the back of the movement, to not just the top, but floating above the dials. while the location of the regulating organ may be considered avant-garde, tradition is upheld by the large 14mm diameter balance wheel with regulating screws specifically developed for MB&F, a balance spring with breguet overcoil, and mobile stud holder. MB&F LM1 silberstein watch designboom




another special feature of the ‘LM1’ movement is the ability to set two time zones completely independently. the vast majority of dual time zone movements only allow the hours to be independently adjusted, while a rare few offer settings to the half hour. ‘LM1’ allows both the hours and minutes of each dial to be set to whatever time the user wishes. the world’s first vertical power reserve indicator on ‘LM1’ is driven by an ultra-flat differential with ceramic bearings, allowing for a slimmer complication, and a more robust and longer-wearing mechanism. MB&F LM1 silberstein watch designboom
a paraphrased quote from gustave flaubert is engraved on the case band between the lugs of the timepiece




it was master watchmaker kari voutilainen who assumed responsibility for ensuring the historical accuracy of the style and finishing of the ‘LM1’ movement, which was no easy task with such an unconventional suspended-balance design from which to begin. it is through the style and finish of the bridges and plates visible through the sapphire crystal window on the back of the movement where voutilainen excelled in providing exquisite historical fidelity; both in the shape of elegantly curved bridges, and the traditionally wide space between the bridges and between the perimeter of the bridges and the case. MB&F LM1 silberstein watch designboom
the watch’s crowns are distinctive six-pointed star shapes, formed by overlapping two triangles




on the back of the movement, oversized ruby jewels set in highly-polished countersunk gold chatons provide striking visual counterpoints to the frosted, sensually curved bridges. while providing historical links with the large jewels seen in high-grade antique pocket watch movements, the ruby bearings have a practical application in reducing wear and increasing longevity by accommodating large diameter pinions and holding more lubrication oil. MB&F LM1 silberstein watch designboom
the ‘LM1 silberstein’ has a black hand-stitched calfskin strap with black top-stitched seams with red gold case




the ‘LM1 silberstein’ is accompanied by a black hand-stitched calfskin strap with black top-stitched seams with red gold case, or red topstitched seams with both titanium cases; with a paraphrased quote from gustave flaubert: ‘le vrai bonheur est d’avoir sa passion pour métier‘—which translates to ‘making a profession for your passion is true happiness‘—engraved on the case band between the lugs of the timepiece.
MB&F LM1 silberstein watch designboom
a potrait mosaic of the elements that have gone into realizing the ‘LM1 silberstein’




I resonated with LM1 because by highlighting the balance – the mechanism that splits time into miniscule increments – it highlights how man converts eternal time into something he can use’, silberstein explains. ‘it was a pleasure to work from such a creative timepiece as LM1 because the suspended balance and arched bridge made it feel like working on the set of a science fiction film’, he concludes. MB&F LM1 silberstein watch designboom
french watch designer alain silberstein