Reality sucks! In the 1960s, science fiction had us flying through the air on hoverboards and our imaginations soared, but we ended up with non-hovering boards with wheels on solid ground. Science fiction promised us 3D TV and engineers delivered, but we took one look, felt queasy and out they went. Science fiction filled our imaginations with elegant ovoid-shaped rockets that would fly us to the moon and beyond. Again engineers delivered, but the rockets, although eminently practical, ended up being straight, uninspiring cylinders.
Some things are best left to the imagination and MB&F’s Destination Moon does just that. It delivers just enough engineering for an eight-day clock looking like an exciting science fiction rocket from the 1960s, but with plentiful empty space allowing our imaginations to fill in the details. Conceived by MB&F and built by L’Epée 1839, Switzerland’s premier clock maker, Destination Moon is the quintessential torpedo-shaped rocket of childhood dreams. But look more closely and you will see that its minimalistic form is evocative rather than definitive. Hours and minutes are displayed on large diameter stainless steel discs with stamped numerals. While the legibility of the time display is not in question, focusing on the time rather than the spectacular, vertically-structured, open movement is likely to require deep concentration. Developed specifically for Destination Moon, the architecture of L’Epée’s eight-day movement follows the basic design of a real spaceship. Power in a rocket comes from its base; the power for Destination Moon comes from the oversized winding crown in its base. The management and control systems of a rocket are above the power source; the same holds true for Destination Moon, which has a vertical regulator controlling precision below the time display, as well as a time-setting knob at the top of the movement. That eye-catching regulator with its animated balance is protected from cosmic radiation (and curious fingers) by a small panel of virtually invisible mineral glass. In a further tip of the hat to childhood toys and fantasies, the horizontal circular plates in Destination Moon’s movement are perforated like Meccano components. Despite its ethereal openwork construction, at four kilograms (nine pounds) Destination Moon is no lightweight: its solid landing pods ensure that it will not easily be knocked off course (or knocked over). And then there’s Neil: a smile-inducing, space-suited figurine forged in solid silver and stainless steel, magnetically attached to the ladder connecting the crown to the movement. Neil is the astronaut flying Destination Moon to exotic worlds, but more importantly, Neil imparts a childlike sense of wonder by putting man into the machine.
Destination Moon is available in 4 limited editions of 50 pieces each in black, green, and blue PVD, plus palladium (silver).
The MB&F Destination Moon in detail
Destination Moon is a true collaboration between L’Epée 1839 and MB&F; the base concept originated with L’Epée movement designer and sci-fi rocket fan Nicolas Bringuet, who came up with the idea for the movement’s distinctive vertical architecture. Driven by passion, Bringuet designed the movement over one long, largely sleep-free, weekend. L’Epée then contacted MB&F wondering if some type of spacecraft might be designed around the movement and the project blasted off. MB&F intern-designer Stefano Panterotto came up with the basic shape, however it initially looked too realistically rocket-like and that something magical was missing. Paradoxically, the answer to adding magic was in removing the skin of the rocket so it both looked more technical − helped by the perforated Meccano-like movement plates− and acted as a framework for the viewer’s imagination. The real magic of Destination Moon is space; not the space of the cosmos above our heads, but the largely empty space that is Destination Moon. If the body of the rocket was completely covered, observers would see the rocket of somebody else’s youth, but because the rocket-themed desktop clock is in reality a largely empty, perforated frame, those viewing Destination Moon are each likely to see a slightly different spacecraft: the rocket of their own childhood rather than somebody else’s… Space isn’t empty; it’s filled by imagination.
While designed by MB&F, Destination Moon was constructed by L’Epée 1839, Switzerland’s premier producer of high-end clocks. The concentric vertical construction of the eight-day movement was developed especially for Destination Moon, but it also draws strong parallels with MB&F’s recently launched Horological Machine No.7 Aquapod: while one is a spacecraft-inspired table clock and the other a jellyfish-inspired aquatic wristwatch, both feature movements comprising concentric vertical architecture and both are powered from their base. Perhaps the crowning jewel of Destination Moon – its apogee if you will – is the small figure on the ladder at its base: Neil. Constructed of solid sterling silver with a stainless steel helmet and wearing a 1960s-style spacesuit, Neil brings a playful human element to the engineering of the Meccano-style openwork of the spaceship and its clockwork. Neil magnetically attaches anywhere along Destination Moon’s boarding ladder. Whether he is embarking to take off for an adventure in space, or disembarking for an adventure on the moon’s surface is up to the individual viewer’s imagination.
Power for Destination Moon comes from the massive crown in its base, which transfers power to the mainspring barrel via the boarding ladder. The eye-catching regulator is vertically positioned to allow for maximum appreciation and protected from curious fingers behind a panel of mineral glass. Two stainless steel discs with stamped white numerals respectively indicate the hours (top) and minutes as they line up with the streamlined double-ended pointer above the regulator. The time is set by a central knob in at the very top of the movement. The stability of the clock is ensured by the substantial weight of Destination Moon’s three highly polished landing pods.
MB&F – Genesis of a Concept Laboratory
In 2015, MB&F celebrated its 10th anniversary – and what a decade it was for the world’s first ever horological concept laboratory: 10 years of hyper-creativity; 11 remarkable calibres forming the base of the critically acclaimed Horological Machines and Legacy Machines for which MB&F has become renowned. After 15 years managing prestigious watch brands, Maximilian Büsser resigned from his Managing Director position at Harry Winston in 2005 to create MB&F – Maximilian Büsser & Friends. MB&F is an artistic and micro-engineering laboratory dedicated to designing and crafting small series of radical concept watches by bringing together talented horological professionals that Büsser both respects and enjoys working with. In 2007, MB&F unveiled its first Horological Machine, HM1. HM1’s sculptured, three-dimensional case and beautifully finished engine (movement) set the standard for the idiosyncratic Horological Machines that have followed: HM2, HM3, HM4, HM5, HM6, HM7, HM8 and HMX – all Machines that tell the time, rather than Machines to tell the time. In 2011, MB&F launched its round-cased Legacy Machine collection. These more classical pieces – classical for MB&F, that is – pay tribute to nineteenth-century watchmaking excellence by reinterpreting complications from the great horological innovators of yesteryear to create contemporary objets d’art. LM1 and LM2 were followed by LM101, the first MB&F Machine to feature a movement developed entirely in-house. The year 2015 saw the launch of Legacy Machine Perpetual featuring a fully integrated perpetual calendar. MB&F generally alternates between launching contemporary, resolutely unconventional Horological Machines and historically inspired Legacy Machines. As well as Horological and Legacy Machines, MB&F has created space-age MusicMachines (1, 2 and 3) in collaboration with music box specialist Reuge; and with L’Epée 1839, unusual clocks in the form of a space station (Starfleet Machine), a spider (Arachnophobia) and three robot clocks (Melchior, Sherman, and Balthazar). In 2016, MB&F and Caran d’Ache created a mechanical rocket-pen called Astrograph. And there have been distinguished accolades reminding us of the innovative nature of MB&F’s journey so far. To name a few, there have been no less than 4 Grand Prix awards from the famous Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève: in 2016, LM Perpetual won the Grand Prix for Best Calendar Watch; in 2012, Legacy Machine No.1 was awarded the Public Prize (voted for by horology fans) and the Best Men’s Watch Prize (voted for by the professional jury); and in 2010, MB&F won Best Concept and Design Watch for the HM4 Thunderbolt. In 2015 MB&F received a Red Dot: Best of the Best award – the top prize at the international Red Dot Awards – for the HM6 Space Pirate.
L’EPEE 1839 – the premier clock manufacture in Switzerland
For more than 175 years, L’Epée has been at the forefront of clock making. Today, it is the unique specialised manufacture in Switzerland dedicated to making high-end clocks. L’Epée was founded in 1839, by Auguste L’Epée, who set up the business near Besançon, France to make music box and watch components. From 1850 onward, the manufacture became a leading light in the production of ‘platform’ escapements, creating regulators especially for alarm clocks, table clocks and musical watches. By 1877, it was making 24,000 platform escapements annually. The manufacture became a well-known specialist owning a large number of patents on special escapements such as anti-knocking, auto-starting and constant-force escapements and the chief supplier of escapements to several celebrated watchmakers of the day. L’Epée has won a number of gold awards at international exhibitions. During the twentieth century, L’Epée owed much of its reputation to its superlative carriage clocks and, for many, L’Epée was the clock of the influential and powerful; it was also the gift of choice by French government officials to elite guests. In 1976 when the Concorde supersonic aircraft entered commercial service, L’Epée wall clocks were chosen to furnish the cabins, providing passengers with visual feedback of the time. In 1994, L’Epée showed its thirst for a challenge when it built the world’s biggest clock with compensated pendulum, the Giant Regulator. At 2.2 m high, it weighs 1.2 tons – the mechanical movement alone weighs 120 kg – and required 2,800 man-hours of work. L’Epée is now based in Delémont in the Swiss Jura Mountains. Under the guidance of CEO Arnaud Nicolas, L’Epée 1839 has developed an exceptional table clock collection, encompassing a range of sophisticated classic carriage clocks, contemporary design clocks and avant-garde horological sculptures. L’Epée clocks feature complications including retrograde seconds, power reserve indicators, perpetual calendars, tourbillons and striking mechanisms – all designed and manufactured in-house. Ultra-long power reserves have become a signature of the brand as well as superlative fine finishing.