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The latest desk clock to emerge from the collaboration of designers and technicians at MB&F and L’Epée 1839 looks like a polished eyeball. But when opened, the timepiece, an inventive 6.7-inch round desk clock called the Orb, takes the shape of either a blooming flower or a shiny beetle spreading its wings.

The new MB&F x L’Epee Orb, an eight-day desk clock.

The wings, or elytra, which is the technical word for a beetle’s protective wing covers, can be closed or opened. However they are posed, the wings frame and support a new, exposed hour-striking clockwork based on a similar mechanism L’Epée 1839 also fits into its carriage clocks.

The eight-day clock, which will chime each hour, can morph as desired as it rests on the owner’s desk. Placed on its stand, or ‘saucer’ (so it doesn’t roll away), the Orb can be displayed closed or with any number of its four ‘wings’ opened.

Those wings don’t simply open up however. They can also swivel to display the Orb in one of several other positions. Opening all four wings means the Orb’s gears and dial can perch high atop the wings, as if rising from the center of a black or white flower.

Aluminum sphere

MB&F explains that the Orb begins its manufacturing process as a solid block of aluminum that is then hollowed to create a sphere. “Once cut, the elytra are then coated with several layers of lacquer that are hardened in a kiln to create the brilliant finish,” according to MB&F. Artisans then solder hinges onto the wings and attach small magnets on the interior of each tip to keep the shape of a perfect sphere.

A beautiful L’Epée 1839 hour-striking clock movement can be seen below the Orb’s curved aluminum dial, which is covered by a domed mineral glass.

A beautiful L’Epée 1839 hour-striking clock movement can be seen below the Orb’s curved aluminum dial, which is covered by a domed mineral glass. The movement is powered with two barrels, one for the time and the other for the striking of the hours. The hour mechanism indicates the actual hour, mimicking a church clock. This function can also be repeated on demand via a button on the side of the clock, or turned on and off as desired.

The idea for the Orb comes from German designer Maximilian Maertens, who started his artistic career at MB&F as an intern before starting a design studio in Berlin. Maertens also worked with MB&F and L’Epée on the T-Rex clock.

MB&F is making the Orb available in limited editions of fifty pieces each in white or black. Price: CHF 28,000.

 

Specifications: MB&F x L’Epee Orb

 (A limited edition of 50 pieces each in white or black.)

Display: Hours and minutes, striking hour, repeated on demand via a button on the side of the clock, or turned on and off if required.

Body: Closed: Height: approx. 17cm by 17cm. Opened: 24cm by 30cm, weight is 1.9kg. Materials: Clockwork in palladium-plated brass and stainless steel. Elytra in aluminum and covered with handmade lacquer.

Movement: L’Epée 1839 in-house designed and manufactured movement, frequency is 18,000bph (2.5Hz), two barrels, power reserve eight days. Incabloc shock protection system, manual-winding: double-depth square socket key sets time and winds movement. Movement finishing: polishing, sandblasting, circular and vertical satin finishing and starburst decoration.

 

Three optical “eyeballs” and three legs dominate the insect-like profile of TriPod, the latest MB&F desk clock co-creation with L’Epée. The rule of threes is further demonstrated by the clock’s three movement levels, an unusual three-day clock dial and by the fact that the clock is actually the result of a three-way collaboration between MB&F, L’Epée 1839 and designer Maximilian Maertens.

The new MB&F/L’Epée 1839 co-creation, called TriPod.

The new clock, which both makers debuted last week during Geneva Watch Days, arrives about a year after the debut of T-Rex, another cooperative venture that was the first of a trilogy of half animal/half robot creations that MB&F calls Robocreatures.

The TriPod performs its time-telling duties with more user interaction than is required by most clocks. To see the time, the user can either peer into a smallish dial placed atop the colorful insect-like clock body, or – preferably – look directly into one of the three glass orbs (TriPod’s ‘eyes’) that magnify the dial to make it more legible than it appears using the naked eye.

With either method, the user sees a dial composed two concentric, rotating disks and three sets of hour numerals placed around the perimeter of the dial, each numbered from 1 to 12. Making one full revolution in thirty-six hours means the dial indicates three sets of hours and minutes, each of which can be spied individually through one of the glass ‘eyes.’

Sculptural movement

TriPod is about ten inches high and is framed in plated brass. Three legs support a colorful body that houses a 182-component three-dimensional sculptural movement by L’Épée 1839. Like most L’Epée movements, when fully wound (by key) TriPod offers a full eight-day power reserve.

This ‘insect’ body is made from cast acrylic, which provides strong shock resistance and also means the clock is relatively light, weighing about six pounds. The body’s neon green, blue or red translucent shields allow a view of the clock movement, which is seen directly in the center of the body to mimic an insect torso.

TriPod launches in three limited editions of fifty pieces each in neon blue, neon green and neon red. Price: $24,500.

 

Specifications: MB&F/L’Epée TriPod

Display: Hours and minutes are indicated on two concentric dials visible from each of the three optical mineral glass spheres. Dials make one full rotation in 36 hours.

Body: Approximately 10 inches high by 12 in diameter. Weight: 2.8kg (about 6 pounds), 95 parts, plated brass, optical mineral glass, fluorescent acrylic shields.

Movement: L’Epée 1839 in-house designed and manufactured movement, balance frequency: 18,000 vph (2.5Hz), one barrel, power reserve eight days, 182 components, Incabloc shock protection system, manual-winding: double-ended key to set time and wind the movement.

 

As if ported through a wormhole, MB&F’s Starfleet Explorer arrives to earth just as time itself seems to have stalled. The new desk-sized steel clock displays hours and minutes atop a skeletonized steel frame that supports an engaging, palladium-treated eight-day L’Epée 1839 movement.

Essentially a compact version of the 2014 Starfleet Machine (the first clock co-created by MB&F and L’Epée 1839), this new co-created skeletonized ‘space station’ utilizes its smaller frame wisely with a topside display showing the hours and minutes. Two darkened rotating discs at the top of the clock perform this task with clarity.

The Starfleet Explorer can be displayed in two different poses: on its three massive curved steel legs or turned sideways with its open-end resting on the desk.

At the very peak you’ll see the minutes, shown digitally in five-minute intervals, as they rotate and appear within a curved, green, blue or red metallic window (or aperture, in tech speak). The Starfleet Explorer indicates the hours using a (matching) colorful hand along a ring just below the minutes.

But, as with so many of its creations, MB&F provides an extra treat within the clock’s steel skeleton. Below the two darkened time-telling discs MB&F has designed (and L’Epée has realized) three colorful ‘spacecraft’ that rotate around the center of the clock in a fanciful table-side five-minute ‘orbit.’

Three colorful ‘spacecraft’ that rotate around the center of the clock.

Eight-day movement

Just below all the time displays and fantastical spacecraft you’ll see that the L’Epée 1839 in-house eight-day movement is placed horizontally despite the vertically positioned escapement. This means viewers can easily eye the to-and-fro of the balance wheel, escape wheel and pallet-lever.

With a vertically set escapement, viewers can easily eye the to-and-fro of the balance wheel, escape wheel and pallet-lever.

All the gearing (steel or palladium-treated brass) is also quite visible just beyond the regulation mechanism, in large part thanks to the C-shaped steel frame.  

MB&F was kind enough to design the Starfleet Explorer so that it can be displayed in two different poses: on its three massive curved steel legs or turned sideways with its open-end resting on the desk. Of course, the clock can also be turned upside down if desired, a feature that helps when winding or setting time on the clock.

MB&F is launching the Starfleet Explorer as three limited editions of 99 pieces each in blue, green and red.

Price: CHF 9,900 (approximately $ 10,200)

Specifications: MB&F/L’Epée Starfleet Explorer

Display:

–Minutes: indicated by a fixed curved aperture on the mobile upper dome, performing a complete rotation every 60 minutes. The minutes aperture and the hour hand are satin-brushed and anodized, in blue, green or red.

–Hours: indicated by a mobile hand, performing a complete rotation every 12 hours on a fixed disc. The hour dome and the minutes disc are satin-brushed and feature MB&F’s signature numerals.

Main structure: Height: approx. 11cm (4.3 inches) by 16.5cm (6.5 inches), 19 parts

Materials: stainless steel for the main structure, hand-lacquered polymer for the three ‘spacecraft.’

Movement: L’Epée 1839 in-house designed and manufactured movement, 18,000 vph frequency, one barrel, eight-day power reserve, Incabloc shock protection system, manual-winding: double-ended key to set time and wind the movement; Mechanism and mainplate in palladium-treated brass