Octopod continues MB&F’s exploration of aquatic themes with an eight-leg, eight-day clock inspired by cephalopods, marine chronometers and The Abyss – blending contemporary design with kinetic sculpture and a transparent bubble filled with precision horology. Conceived by MB&F and built by Switzerland’s premier clock maker, L’Epée 1839, Octopod stands or crouches thanks to its eight articulated legs.
Each leg can be individually adjusted to varying heights, enabling Octopod to rest securely on the most uneven of surfaces, just like a real octopus. However, the real horological magic and mystery take place in Octopod’s completely transparent spherical ‘head’.
The first thing to notice is that Octopod’s transparent sphere is gimballed in a similar way to how traditional ship chronometers were gimballed – although on one axis rather than two – so that they remained flat despite the pitching and rolling of the ship. In Octopod’s case, the gimbal ensures that no matter what angle or height it sits, it is easy to rotate the bubble so that the time display inside is at the ideal plane for maximum legibility.
The second thing the attentive eye will notice is that Octopod’s pulsating escapement, which regulates the clock’s precision, is located on its minute hand rather than the more usual (and mechanically simpler) position attached to stationary movement plates. While not technically a tourbillon according to Abraham-Louis Breguet’s original patent, with its movement vertical, the 60-minute rotation of Octopod’s regulator on the minute hand is closer to the primary aim of Breguet’s invention. His intention was to rotate the escapement of a pocket watch sitting vertically in a fob pocket to average out positional errors, while wristwatch tourbillons are continually moving through all positions without requiring 360° rotations.
And thirdly there’s the mystery of how Octopod’s clockwork is suspended inside its crystalline sphere, so that it appears to be floating in space (or water). The baseplate of the movement is a transparent glass plate that has been treated with a film of anti-reflective coating on both sides so that it is virtually invisible. Like an octopus concealing parts of itself with camouflage, Octopod conceals parts of itself with visual tricks of its own.
Octopod’s eight-day movement is an entirely new development by L’Epée 1839, with both the glass baseplate and counterbalanced regulator posing particular challenges.
Along with its octopus and marine chronometer connections to the sea, Octopod also brings to mind the then futuristic glass bathysphere of James Cameron’s 1989 film, The Abyss. While the viewer may be outside looking in at the transparent bubble, it’s easy to imagine sinking below the waves and looking out at the astonishing iridescent creatures of the deep oceans. However, you may well rest assured that despite its aquatic inspirations, Octopod is perfectly at home on dry land.
Octopod is available in 3 limited editions of 50 pieces each in black PVD, blue PVD, and palladium (silver).
Dimensions: 28 cm long x 28 cm high (standing), 45 cm long x 22 cm high (crouching)
Weight: 4.2 kg
Frame: Stainless steel, nickel and palladium plated brass
Components (body, legs and sphere): 309
L’Epée in-house designed and manufactured
Baseplate in transparent mineral glass, anti-reflective coating both sides
Balance frequency: 2.5 Hz / 18,000 bph
Power reserve: 8 days from single barrel
Components movement: 159
Incabloc shock protection system protected by mineral glass
Materials: palladium-plated brass, stainless steel and nickel-plated brass
Manual-winding: the double-depth square socket key sets time and winds movement
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 in 2017 Destination Moon in collaboration with L’Epée 1839.
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.