Insider: MB&F Balthazar Table Clock in Collaboration with L'Epée 1839. Hands-on with the Third Robot Clock from this Manufacture.

The third and newest robot table clock in the MB&F line-up is the new Balthazar. First came the Melchior we featured here and earlier this year a small robot-like sibling Sherman as we reviewed it here. The newest member of the MB&F clock family is also a collaboration with. the oldest and most renowned clock maker L'Epée 1839. The new MB&F Balthazar is a sophisticated and imposing high-precision robot clock displaying jumping hours, retrograde seconds and a 35-day power reserve. Weighing in at over 18 pounds —8.2 kilos— and standing nearly 16 inches tall —39.4 centimeters— the new MB&F Balthazar clock is composed of 618 beautifully finished, micro-engineered parts. On the front or light side —as MB&F refers to it—, the clock features a 35-day power reserve indicator at its waist line and “slow” jumping hours and trailing minutes via two discs on the chest.

Perhaps one of the coolest things about this clock, is that by rotating his torso 180 degrees, Balthazar turns into a mean robot with a skull-like face and a dual hemisphere moon phase indicator accurate for 122 years. Meanwhile, his bright red eyes are actually 20-second retrograde displays and Balthazar’s 'brain' under the polished glass dome is where the precision regulator of the clockwork is located.

Other features of this robot-like table clock include the ability of rotating him around the hips, articulate both of his arms, shoulders and elbows, and his hands can clasp and hold objects like the small robot-like clock MB&F Sherman does.

Finally, Balthazar is equipped with a shield thatconceals and protects an integrated clock-winding and time-setting key. This double-depth square socket winding/time-setting key integrated neatly into the shield, which naturally slips in and out of its concealed niche with horological precision. Surprisingly, because of Balthazar’s size —and he is even heavier than he looks— manipulating any of Balthazar’s joints and even the moon phase indication is extremely tactile. Moving anything on this robot is like gently closing the door on a high-end German sedan; it’s the type of feel that requires much more than excellent high-precision micro-engineering capability, it requires caring deeply about touch, sensations, and even sounds from the outset.

With a normal jumping hour indication, between five minutes to the hour and five minutes past it can be difficult to know if the jump has occurred or not. So L’Epée developed a ‘slow’ jumping hour, which sees the hour disc remain static for 55 minutes and then —rather than jump instantly and risk the jump being missed— start to turn five minutes before the hour. The jump is so gradual that it can be easily seen. Balthazar’s movement features a regulator with an Incabloc shock protection system to minimize risk of damage to this critical component when the clock is being transported or moved. This type of shock protection is generally only seen in wristwatches. Lastly, Balthazar’s movement also features the same superlative fine finishing —Geneva waves, anglage, mirror polishes, sandblasting, circular and vertical satin finishing— seen on haute horlogerie wristwatches. 

The new MB&F L'Epée 1839 Balthazar comes in three limited editions of 50-pieces each in black, silver, blue or green armour plates.

Sticker Price CHF 52,000 Swiss Francs —approximately $53,000 USD. For more info on MB&F click here.