The MB&F Legacy Machine Thunderdome (Live Pics & Pricing)

03rd December 2019

Quick Take

I don't even know where to begin. Look closely at the photos and then come back. I need a minute... What you're looking at is the latest Legacy Machine from the mad creatives at MB&F, the aptly named LM Thunderdome. Following in the heavily domed display case footsteps of last year's FlyingT, the Thunderdome is the product of a collaboration between Eric Coudray and Kari Voutilainen. Offering hours and minutes on a slanted white lacquer dial, the Thunderdome's pièce de résistance is its visually striking three-axis tourbillon, which towers above its dial, barely contained by a fine layer of highly domed anti-reflective sapphire.


Dubbed the MB&F TriAx, this tourbillon design is a first in watchmaking as each axis operates at its own pace and the entire assembly has only two cages. The design offers enhanced visual access to the structure of the TriAx and the system also integrates a Potter escapement, which is characterized by the use of a fixed escape wheel. The end result is a much higher speed in the rotation of these mechanisms, with the element at the heart of the TriAx turning once every eight seconds, the middle cage every 12 seconds, and the outer cage every 20 seconds.

Supporting the TriAx, we find a movement of typical Voutilainen excellence. Beautifully structured and painstakingly finished, Kari actually hand-drew the movement to ensure he had a close connection with its balance and tolerances. Despite coming from two very different minds, the Thunderdome is a fantastic and dramatic example of high-end modern watchmaking that feels cohesive, beautifully designed, and wondrously executed.


Initial Thoughts


If the Thunderdome doesn't make you smile then I hate to break it to you but you're a mean one, Mr. Grinch. I have had the great pleasure of seeing almost all of the Legacy Machines in person and they feel like you're holding magic in your hands. They are fanciful tributes to both engineering and the excellence of top craft and thoughtful design. The Thunderdome breaks new ground in terms of both mechanical engineering and tourbillon design. As the concept of a tourbillon has become increasing casual (almost token) over the past decade, it's amazing to see some great minds come together to create something new and exciting. You don't need a TriAx (nor do I), but I do rather like that they went to the trouble of making it.


Production is limited to 33 pieces in platinum with a light blue guilloché dial (with pricing set at $280,000) and there are an additional 10 tantalum-cased pieces being made for retailer The Hour Glass, five with a dark blue guilloché dial, and five with aventurine dials. Most of us, myself included, are unlikely to ever see a Thunderdome in the metal, but it's nice to know they are out there, rapidly spinning in three axes, just because they can.