After working for nearly 45 hours without a break – all at peak performance – it’s been a long tiring day and energy levels are low. While it was relatively easy to sit up straight at the start of the day, fatigue has now set in, back languidly bends, head hits lap. ‘Mr. Up’ has become ‘Mr. Down’. But before Mr. Down shuts off completely, an invigorating influx of energy lifts his head, straightens his back and brightens his spirits. Mr. Up has been brought back to life!
Welcome to the world of Legacy Machine N°1 Xia Hang. Welcome to the world of Mr. Up and Mr. Down, a collaboration between MB&F and Chinese artist Xia Hang.
Legacy Machine N°1 Xia Hang (LM1 Xia Hang) retains all of the 19th century pocket watch-inspired features of the original LM1, including the majestically suspended slowly oscillating balance wheel and dual time indications that can be set completely independently, but with a twist: the power reserve is indicated by a miniature, highly-polished aluminium man, designed by talented Chinese sculptor, Xia Hang. The man sits up straight when the movement is fully wound (Mr. Up) and gradually slumps over as the power diminishes (Mr. Down).
“I call these little men ‘comma men’, and their distinctive shape comes from a selection of art I created from 2005 to 2008. Commas do exist in Chinese writing and for me the ‘comma man’ represents a chubby boy.” Xia Hang
Xia Hang and MB&F share much in common. While MB&F create serious works of time-telling kinetic art, they don’t take themselves too seriously. Similarly, Xia Hang believes the world of art is often too serious; he likes it to be playful, and wants his sculptures to entertain and make people smile. And just like MB&F, Hang calls his kinetic sculptures ‘machines’.
“I was first introduced to Xia Hang a few years ago by a Chinese art collector friend, and visited him on the outskirts of Beijing in his workshop. I was like a child in a toy factory!”
The in-house movement powering LM1 Xia Hang bears testimony to the enormous talent of its creators. Jean-François Mojon and his team at Chronode developed the LM1 calibre, which features the world’s first vertical power reserve and allows completely independent setting – including minutes – of both time displays. Acclaimed independent watchmaker Kari Voutilainen was responsible for the aesthetic design and for strictly ensuring the utmost respect for tradition and Legacy Machine N°1 was conceived when Maximilian Büsser started fantasising: “What would have happened if I had been born in 1867 instead of 1967? In the early 1900s the first wristwatches appear and I would want to create three-dimensional machines for the wrist, but there would have been no Grendizers, Star Wars or fighter jets for my inspiration. But I would have had pocket watches, the Eiffel Tower and Jules Verne, so what might my 1911 machine look like? It has to be round and it has to be three-dimensional: Legacy Machine N°1 was my answer.”