Flying Colors: MB&F x Bulgari Unveil The Legacy Machine FlyingT Allegra
As part of an unexpected collaboration, the Italian jeweler adds an explosion of color and sparkle to MB&F’s three-dimensional ladies’ watch.
The Legacy Machine FlyingT Allegra, released to coincide with both brands’ participation at Dubai Watch Week, is a stunning collective effort. Specifically, it sees the Roman jeweler use its consummate gem-setting prowess to enliven MB&F’s award-winning ladies’ watch, the LM FlyingT, like never before.
However, on second thought, maybe this meeting of minds was entirely predictable.
MB&F’s modus operandi has always centered around collaboration. The brand has worked with artists, clockmakers, music box makers, and writing instrument manufacturers to help craft its radical performance art pieces and in-house conceived co-creations. Not to mention the watchmaking specialists, engravers, and designers it has partnered with to bring its Horological and Legacy Machines to life.
Likewise, Bulgari’s watchmaking division has teamed up with architects, streetwear designers, and music producers to make some eye-catching special-edition timepieces. All the while, its jewelry arm has also established creative synergies with fashion designers, vintage champagne brands, and even members of royalty.
Merging Skills and Mindsets
Fittingly, the story of this particular collaboration has its roots at a previous edition of Dubai Watch Week, when MB&F Founder and Creative Director Maximilian Büsser approached Bulgari’s Product Creation Executive Director, Fabrizio Buonamassa Stigliani.
Buonamassa Stigliani recalled the meeting: “Four or five years ago, during Dubai Watch Week, we started to discuss this kind of collaboration. It was thanks to Max. He said, ‘Ciao, Fabrizio, I’m Max. Just want to say, it could be great if we made a watch together.’ ”
Explaining his rationale for reaching out to the Italian brand – known for its luxury watches, fragrances, fashion accessories, and, above all, jewelry – Büsser said, “Bulgari jewelry is full of life. It’s exuberant; it’s full of joy. It is also three-dimensional jewelry. For me, it just made sense to bring it together: We’re three-dimensional watchmakers, and they’re three-dimensional, exuberant jewelers.”
Capturing Feminine Elegance and Energy
The pair eventually decided that the watch that would provide the platform for their collaboration would be Legacy Machine FlyingT, the first MB&F machine dedicated to women.
Launched in 2019 and winner of the Best Ladies Complication prize at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève that year, the LM FlyingT was designed to capture the elegant and energetic essence of the women who helped shape Büsser’s life: his mother, wife, and two daughters.
Under a generously domed sapphire crystal and through an opening in the curved dial plate, the 280-component movement of the LM FlyingT emerges in a spectacular column-like construction, at the top of which turns a 60-second flying tourbillon set with a single diamond that scintillates as the tourbillon turns.
At 7 o’clock, the hour-minute sub-dial with serpentine hands is tilted 50° so only the wearer can read the time. And on the back, the life-giving, sun-shaped automatic rotor winds the barrel that offers just under four days of power reserve.
The Allegra Concept
It didn’t take Buonamassa Stigliani long to work out what his take would be on Büsser’s horological ode to the women that mean so much to him. The Naples native said, “We discussed the design during a one-hour Zoom meeting, and I started to make sketches. The idea was to play with our semi-precious stones. By the end of the meeting, I said, ‘Max, is this what you have in mind?!’ ”
Buonamassa Stigliani essentially proposed to take Bulgari’s Allegra concept – that invariably sees large, colored cabochon-cut or faceted gemstones juxtaposed with smaller brilliant-cut diamonds – and applying it to MB&F’s acclaimed ladies’ watch. While the Rome-based maison has channeled the Allegra ethos into its high-end pendants, necklaces, earrings, and rings, its watchmaking department, based in Switzerland, has also used it to create some breath-taking Bulgari timepieces.
“Bulgari is the jeweler of colors and joy. We come from Italy, we come from Rome first of all, so in our DNA, you can see all the elements of La Dolce Vita,” said Buonamassa Stigliani.
Floating, Flying, Beautiful Colored Stones
Now, it’s MB&F’s turn to receive the Allegra treatment, and the result is quite magnificent. Bulgari’s stunning design sees a groove cut into the LM FlyingT’s dial plate to encircle the stacked movement. Then, five claws have been placed into the groove, with each holding a carefully-selected, brightly-colored, semi-precious stone. Among them, there are three pear- and round-cut green tsavorites, one round-cut pink tourmaline, one oval-cut violet amethyst, and one round-cut deep blue tanzanite.
Meanwhile, the dial plate and hour-minute sub-dial are snow-set with brilliant-cut diamonds. The bezel, buckle, and twin crowns – the left for winding, the right for time-setting – are also adorned with brilliant-cut diamonds, with a pink tourmaline set at the center of the left crown and green tsavorite in the middle of the right.
Elated at the outcome, Büsser said, “You have the impression that these incredible, floating, flying, beautiful colored stones are actually turning around the tourbillon.”
Arcs of Splendorous Sparkle
In addition to the gem-setting, Bulgari has also reworked the design of LM FlyingT’s 39mm by 20mm case, replacing the long, curved lugs of the original with shorter, teardrop lugs. This change allows the diamond-set bezel on either side of the crowns to become flowing, uninterrupted arcs of splendorous sparkle.
Equally delighted with the result, Buonamassa Stigliani said, “The idea was to have this dome with this thin bezel, with these semi-precious stones inside the watch, very close to the movement. When you see the watch, it looks a bit like a UFO. This was the idea from the beginning because I know that MB&F is very close to this environment.”
Sharing the Same #challengeandtry Mindset
For Büsser and his MB&F team, this latest partnership has proved to be yet another highly-enjoyable and stimulating collaboration. Büsser explained: “Working with the Bulgari team and more specifically with Fabrizio was truly incredible. The Bulgari watch team function just like us: hyper-creative with an entrepreneurial spirit. They share the same #challengeandtry mindset as us.”
He continued: “On a personal note, I have rarely met someone as creative as Fabrizio – he sketches an idea a minute! We had so much fun. It’s just a pity that most of our ideas will just remain ideas.”
Pricing & Availability
The Legacy Machine FlyingT Allegra is available in two 20-piece limited editions: one in 18K white gold and one in 18K red gold, each priced at CHF 160,000. Each edition boasts just over 3 carats of brilliant-cut diamonds and just under 3 carats of colored, semi-precious stones.
Both editions feature tsavorites, tourmaline, amethyst, and tanzanites. However, the white gold edition also has an oval topaz, while the red gold edition has a round rubellite. Both versions come on an alligator leather strap with a diamond-set white- or red-gold pin buckle to match the case.
(Photography by Pierre Vogel)