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Review: Why the MB&F LM101 is my Favourite Independent Watch

  • 5 min read

 Review written by @watches.in.singapore. Thank you!

The MB&F LM101 is the watch that sucked me into the world of independent watchmaking.  Originally, I had dismissed the independent universe as the watches were often either unattainable (F.P Journe) or too wild for my taste (Urwerk).  In fact, when a friend messaged me with photos of the LM101 asking if he should buy it, I had told him to pass.

But rather hypocritically, when I saw another friend’s steel LM101 in the metal, it was so jawdropping that I messaged Max Büsser the next day to order and place a deposit for my own piece.  

Since then, I’ve been fortunate to experience the likes of De Bethune, Kari Voutilainen, Gronefeld, and more.  Yet, the LM101 remains my favorite watch by far. And here’s why:

Style…

At a glance, there’s something immediately special about the style of the LM101.  The massive beating heart is smack bang in the centre of the dial, surrounded by an ocean of bright sunburst blue below.  Twist the watch around, and you’re treated to a view almost no other watch offers.  The presence of the dome adds a 3D element, making the LM101 feel like an architectural masterpiece.  

Regardless of what angle you look at the watch from, there’s always something special to admire.

This is even true for the caseback, which looks distinctly modern thanks to the NAC-coated bridges.  Each component (rubies included!) is large and easy on the eyes.  The architecture is simple, yet beautiful.  There’s a sense of serenity and stillness, given the lack of a spinning balance wheel.

… and Substance

And so, with the naked eye, it’s clear that the LM101 has a unique, uncompromising style.  But what makes this watch truly outstanding is that when you take a closer look, it’s filled with substance.

Picking up where we left off, the movement is MB&F’s first in-house caliber.  As hinted by the gorgeous engraving, the famous Kari Voutilainen was responsible for the design and finish.  Zoom in with a macro lens and it makes sense.  Everything from the anglage to the cotes de geneve is exquisite, featuring hand finishing. 

Finishing on the dialside is no less spectacular.  The prominent twin arches are grinded down from a single piece of metal and mirror-polished by hand.  The large flying balance wheel is radially brushed on top, giving it a sunburst effect, while polished perfectly on the side.  Beautifully crafted blued gold hands light up into a bright electric shade when light hits it right.  And finally, the crystal dome flows seamlessly into the slim, polished bezel.

While I’m not the best equipped to discuss movement innovation, it’s worth mentioning that the LM101 features H. Moser & Cie’s double hairspring, another reminder of the “&F” part of MB&F.  The way it works is pretty cool, so do look it up if you’re interested in that sort of thing.

The most wearable MB&F

My biggest qualm with most MB&F models is the sheer size.  I would love to buy an LM Perpetual, except it comes in at a monstrous 44mm x 17.5mm.  In contrast, the LM101 is extremely wearable on my 17cm wrist.  Diameter is 40mm (lug to lug of 46.5mm), allowing the watch to sit well.  Thickness is 15.5mm to the top of the domed crystal, with roughly 8mm attributed purely to the crystal itself.  While the thickness measurement may sound atrocious, do keep in mind that the dome does slope down rather aggressively due to the smaller case size, and is really not as bad as one may think.

Having worn the LM101 for a few months, I have to say that the design is very lasting.  Sure, I may not always be in the mood to wear the watch, but it at least has a simple and clean look, while also being very legible.  Compared to the rest of MB&F’s lineup, it’s probably the machine that looks most like an actual, normal watch.  

I also find that the LM101 attracts attention, but in a positive way.  It provokes intrigue especially amongst non-watch people, kids included.  That’s very different from wearing, say a RM, which comes with both attention and stigma.

Brand

Aside from being a near perfect package, the LM101 is my top independent watch partially because MB&F is by far my favourite independent watchmaker.  Not only do I resonate with the vision of Max and what he’s created, but the people who work for the brand are also awesome.  I can message them anytime on Instagram or WhatsApp and they’ll reply quickly, even if on holiday.  Multiple other customers have shared similar remarks.  

The MB&F Tribe feels like a true family, as the people behind the brand genuinely seem to care.

It’s not all sunny

Naturally, no watch is perfect, so here are some very minor issues that I have with the LM101.  The first two are functional.  I find the watch very tough to wind, with the movement giving a lot of kickback.  Granted, each wind does give a lot of power and one does get used to the resistance over time, but it’s still a concerning sensation in the beginning.  Similarly, I also don’t enjoy the spring-loaded clasp, which is very similar to what RM watches offer.  The clasp makes the watch a pain to put on at times, and just seems unnecessary.

The final small complaint is aesthetic.  There’s a small gap in between the lugs and case that can accumulate dust over time and is tough to clean.

I will also note that some friends have asked whether I ever worry about cracking the dome.  While that is a concern I would hate to have happen, I think I’m relatively normal in that I don’t haphazardly throw my watches around.  Also, as mentioned earlier, the thickness really ain’t that bad.  

In conclusion…

Overall, the MB&F LM101 is a near perfect package with spades of style and substance.  It has a balanced blend of avant-garde design with classic watchmaking and is likely to give every watch collector something to love.  Additionally, on the wrist, nothing is quite like the three-dimensional LM101.  

Out of the three most recently released LM101 variants, my personal pick is the steel (not just because I’ve ordered one).  The shade of blue is itself quite unique and has flair.  Also, steel is a material rarely found in MB&F watches. 

That being said, the steel also has the longest waiting list, standing at 2025 delivery when I last checked in December 2021.  If you’re the less patient type, the precious metal variants are just as attractive, and will probably arrive at least 2 years faster.  Trust me, the LM101 is worth the wait regardless. 

Specifications

  • Power reserve: 45 hours
  • Beat rate: 18,000 bph/2.5Hz
  • Movement components: 231
  • Diameter: 40mm
  • Lug to lug: 47.5mm
  • Height: 17.5mm to top of crystal
  • Lug Width: 21mm (Curved)

For more information, please visit the official MB&F website.