In this day and age where wristwatches (and cell phones) have eclipsed the popularity of clocks, few still pursue the craft of creating these larger timekeeping devices. That said, a number of high-end watchmakers have continued to introduce clocks over the years, albeit in small, limited quantities.
While these may look like regular table clocks at a glance, most present some novel or noteworthy feature upon closer inspection: Cartier’s Mystery Clocks present hour and minute hands that are seemingly suspended mid-air; Jaeger-LeCoultre’s series of Atmos clocks are powered by changes in atmospheric temperature; and Patek Philippe’s Dome table clocks predominantly display intricately painted cloisonné enamel bodies.
Then there’s MB&F and its clocks that, well, don’t take on the appearance of regular clocks at all. The brainchild of Maximilian Büsser, MB&F has been well-recognised for its avant-garde creations since bursting onto the scene back in 2005. Renowned for its Horological Machines (wristwatches that are perhaps best described as wearable pieces of horological art), the small firm constantly pushes the boundaries of design and watchmaking with its fantastical pieces — probably explaining why its latest clock looks more like a robot than the timekeeper it is supposed to be.
While Balthazar is neither the brand’s first table clock, nor its first robot-esque one, it is no less intriguing. Created once again in collaboration with Swiss clockmaker L’Epée 1839 (the only remaining specialised luxury clock manufacture in the country), Balthazar offers jumping hours, trailing minutes and power reserve displays on one side of its swivelling chest, and a double hemisphere moon phase complication on the reverse. Additionally, its rotatable head shows a 20-second retrograde indicator on one side. Visible through his domed skull is the piece’s precision regulator, which is equipped with an Incabloc shock protection system. It will be produced in limited run of 50 exclusive units only.
Other such clocks created by MB&F over the years include the deep space-inspired Starfleet Machine (2014) that marked the start of its collaboration with L’Epée 1839; Melchior (2015), a robot clock which, like Balthazar, was named for an ancestor of Büsser’s; the spider-like Arachnophobia (2015); and yet another robot timekeeper, Sherman (2016), whose name references the M4 Sherman tank used by America and its allies in World War II.