MB&F collaborates once again with clock maker L’Epée to create yet another creepy crawly horological objets d’art : this one still within the realm of eight legged marine inhabitants. This follows from the MB&F Aquapod HM7 which was released earlier this year. Presenting the MB&F X L’Epée Octopod.
MB&F X L’Epée Octopod
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 Octopod’s transparent head is a sapphire glass sphere which is gimballed like a traditional ship chronometer with difference. The marine chronometers have a two axis gimbal, but the Octopod has only a single axis. This it to ensure that no matter which angle or height it sits, it can rotate such that the time display inside is at the ideal plane for good legibility.
Interestingly, the Octopod’s escapement is located on the minute hand. This is a mechanically more complex solution than if it were on a stationary movement place. Though not technically a tourbillon, the Octopod’s escapement moves through a circle every 60 minutes, helping it to even out the effects of gravity.
The L’Epée clockwork appears suspended inside the sphere, giving an illusion of floating in space (or in water). The baseplate is a transparent plate with anti-reflective coating on both sides, and practically disappears, leaving the movement with this optical illusion. MB&F hints that this is somewhat like the octopus, which is able to conceal parts of itself with camouflage.
The Octopod’s movement has a power reserve of 8 days, and an entirely new development by L’Epée 1839
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.
Inspiration and Realisation
As with all MB&F creations, there is an interesting story behind the clock. The Octopod’s inspiration is derived from three aquatic sources: the octopus with “8 legs”, the marine chronometer lending the gimballed structure, and the transparent bubble of the bathysphere in James Cameron’s 1989 movie, The Abyss.
L’Epée produces most of the components, puts them all together and regulates the high precision, eight-day clockwork.
The usual challenges for an MB&F project is the nature that these tend to be atypical, and for the Octopod, there were two major challenges. First is the glass baseplate. A supplier had to be found to provide sucha plate within the ultra tight tolerences required. These glass manufactures were not used to working at the extreme levels of precision needed And secondly, the challenge of having to adjust a counterweight for the minute hand, which bears the escapement. This has to be balanced in three dimensions. And the final solution called for 5 small adjusters to ensure that the hand is perfectly balanced.
Octopuses (notes from MB&F)
Let’s get one thing out of the way first: it is ‘octopuses’ not ‘octopi’ as the root of the word comes from Greek, not Latin. And secondly, despite what is commonly thought, octopuses do not have eight legs (or even eight arms), but two legs and six arms. The cephalopods use their two rear appendages (legs) for locomotion or propulsion when moving along the sea bed and their six arms for manipulating food and objects. While all of their limbs look similar, they are anatomically three pairs of arms and a pair of legs.
Octopuses are very intelligent creatures and are the most intelligent of invertebrates. Maze and problem-solving experiments have indicated sophisticated memory systems and some species have been observed using tools. When threatened, octopuses have a number of defences including very effective camouflage (their skin can change colour like a chameleon), water with jet propulsion, and releasing a cloud of ink to obscure and confuse.
MB&F X L’Epée Octopod: Technical Specifications
Octopod is available in 3 limited editions of 50 pieces each in black PVD, blue PVD, and palladium (silver).
Indications and complications
Hours, minutes and finely counter-balanced regulator mounted on minute hand
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
8 legs each composed of 31 pieces
Articulation released by a button in each leg, can be locked in two positions (standing or extended)
360° rotation in both vertical and horizontal planes with 3 sand-blasted and satin-finished brass rings.
Two Polycarbonate hemispheres joined by a satin-finished three-piece band
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
Retail price is CHF 35,000 + tax.