Last year at Baselworld 2014, MB&F surprised everyone with its Starfleet Machine table clock in partnership with legendary clock maker L'Epée 1839 as we featured it here. This year at Baselworld 2015, in order to commemorate their 10th anniversary, Max Büsser and friends —MB&F— presented a new super cool table clock that looks like a robot out of a sci-fi scene named Melchior. Additionally, the Geneva-based Horological lab will present a number of Anniversary Pieces during the year, under the theme: ”A creative adult is a child who survived”.
Melchior, created with L’Epée 1839 is an impressive kinetic robot which may remind you of your childhood dreams, but also happens to be an impeccably finished, 480-component mechanical table clock with five barrels and a steel and brass armour. Fitted with articulated arms —the right one packing a rocket launcher and the left a Gatling gun that serves as the clock winding key—, jumping hours, sweeping minutes, double retrograde seconds and a 40-day power reserve this clock is a true tribute to refined, classic clock and watchmaking. Conceived and developed by concept lab MB&F, and engineered and crafted by L’Epée 1839 —Switzerland's only specialized high-end clock manufacture— Melchior is the result of Max Büsser’s quest to revisit his childhood hankering for a robot friend.
Christening this roboclock ‘Melchior’ —after a traditional forename in his family – Büsser developed the concept with designer Xin Wang, selecting a high-end L’Epée clock movement and re-imagining it as the mechanical head and torso of a robot.
Jumping hours and sweeping minutes on Melchior’s chest are displayed via discs bearing MB&F’s signature numerals —with pointers incorporated into the breastplate— while a dial on Melchior’s abdomen is the power reserve indicator. And this robot’s self-sufficiency is to be admired, as the movement boasts a power reserve of 40 days —for most table clocks, it is eight days— thanks to five main spring barrels which help make up Melchior’s rippling torso. The barrels are in series for optimal performance.
Melchior is limited to 99 pieces and is available in a monochromatic ‘light’ edition —like the one photographed here— or a two-tone ‘dark and light’ edition featuring black PVD-treated components. The retrograde action of Melchior’s expressive eyes marks off intervals of 20 seconds. A combination of fixed vents and revolving discs, both bearing radial propeller motifs, gives the impression that Melchior is closing and opening his eyes —the resulting blinking effect endows the robot with a hint of endearing human-like personality.
Further animation is provided by the regulator, its gentle beating and intricate composition made visible thanks to its polished glass dome cover. If the protective dome acts like a skull, then the regulator symbolizes Melchior’s brain at work; just as the brain governs the body, the regulator governs the clock’s remarkable precision. A true robot companion is one you can play with and Melchior doesn’t disappoint. An impressive 334 components make up the movement, while another 146 pieces comprise Melchior’s bodywork and armour. Such was the originality of MB&F’s robot concept that L’Epée needed to develop several new components: Machining, finishing and assembling a piece like the bulging glass dome forming Melchior’s skull was a first for L’Epée.
His steel upper arms rotate and his lower arms pivot up or down – excellent maneuverability for aiming his rocket launcher or Gatling gun to blast away the bad guys. And in a neat design touch, his gun detaches and doubles as the winding/setting key for the movement which was another first for L'Epée 1839. The winding/setting key clips into Melchior’s left elbow joint socket held by a small magnet strong enough to hold the key, but not so powerful as to affect the function of the movement. The key boasts a double-depth square socket that neatly fits over both of the square pegs on the back of Melchior. One of the pegs is for winding the movement, the other for time-setting.
An impressive 334 components make up the movement, while another 146 pieces comprise Melchior’s bodywork and armour. Working from MB&F’s design, L’Epée diligently developed the various bodywork and armour components, carefully choosing materials according to the properties required.
Where precision was critical —Melchior’s kinetic parts or his precision rocket launcher— plated brass was selected instead of stainless steel. His armour on the other hand, is crafted mainly in stainless steel, providing optimal resistance to withstand any enemy attacks. And for the finishing touch, L’Epée have applied a range of eye-catching finishes to Melchior’s bodywork —including anglage, mirror polishing, satin finishing, circular satin finishing, sand-blasting and polishing.
The new Baselworld 2015 MB&F Melchior L'Epée 1839 table clock is available in a limited edition of 99 pieces.
Sticker Price CHF35,000. For more info on MB&F click here.
MELCHIOR’S TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS
Dimensions: 30.3cm x 21.7cm x 11.2cm
Body/armour components: 146
Dome: polished glass screwed via polished and bevelled palladium-plated brass bezel
Retrograde seconds display in stainless steel
Movement mainplate in palladium-plated brass
Breastplate (forming hour and minute hands) in palladium-plated brass
Abdomen (power reserve indicator frame) in stainless steel
Ribcage/spine (formed by skeletonised mainplate) in palladium-plated brass
Pelvis, thighs, shins and feet in stainless steel
Hips (long central bars joining pelvis) in stainless steel
SHOULDERS AND ARMS
Shoulders, upper arms and lower arm sockets in stainless steel; magnet in left arm socket
Right forearm: screwed-in rocket with chrome-plated brass body and stainless steel warhead
Left forearm: Gatling gun/detachable stainless steel winding key with palladium-plated brass
Body and armour finishing includes anglage, mirror polishing, satin finishing, circular satin finishing, sand-blasting, polishing. ‘Shoulders’, ‘pelvis’ and skeletonised mainplate treated with black PVD for the two-tone ‘dark and light’ edition of Melchior.