As the annual horology and jewellery Baselworld trade show starts on 21st March 2018, spookily, in the Swiss city of Basel, we may need to forecast the weather. No! it’s not “cloudy with a chance of meatballs” but maybe “Sunny with a chance of (alien) visitors!”
For their 8th collaboration, MB&F and L’Epée 1839 have created The Fifth Element: an intergalactic horological weather station that needs no dilithium crystals nor electricity. Four (UFO) elements: clock, barometer, hygrometer, and thermometer are integrated in a mothership (with Ross, the alien pilot) to create an entity much larger than the sum of its parts: The Fifth Element.
MB&F (Max Busser & Friends) founder Maximilian Büsser long admired desktop weather stations of the last century, but frustrated in not finding the right vintage model for himself, decided to create his own.
The Fifth Element
Four removable and interchangeable instrument Elements make up the Fifth Element:
UFO Clock Element (1.35 kg)
Because weather forecasting is based on the speed of changes over time, the accurate time is required for meteorological observations. For the Fifth Element, L’Epée 1839 reengineered and skeletonised their 8-day clock movement to maximize transparency and visual access.
UFO Thermometer Element (1.90 kg)
Thermometers don’t simply measure temperature, but the average kinetic energy of a substance: the higher the temperature, the higher the energy. A thermometer is essentially a power reserve indication of the energy in the atmosphere around us.
UFO Barometer Element (1.80 kg)
The barometer, which measures air pressure, is the mainstay of weather forecasting: as a general rule, increasing air pressure foretells good clear weather, decreasing air pressure portends inclement weather. The faster the change, the more extreme the coming weather.
UFO Hygrometer Element (1.90 kg)
The hygrometer measures the percentage of water vapour in the air; it displays this as a percentage of the maximum amount of moisture that might be held at a given temperature.
The four elements – clock, barometer, hygrometer, and thermometer – are not only detachable and interchangeable; thanks to integrated support they can also stand, returning to the mothership when required. The complete structure is 376 mm in diameter and 209 mm in height with 531 components.
As surmised from their brand name, this venerable clock manufacture is a 179 years old with a formidable history of horological heritage. L’Epée’s beautifully-crafted wall clocks were chosen to furnish Concorde cabins when the supersonic aircraft entered commercial service in 1976.
Yet the younger MB&F company has managed for the eight time to coax a joyful fantasy in collaboration with them. The Fifth Element was only possible with the expertise of L’Epée 1839, as masters of precision engineering to achieve the intricate series of curves and circles within circles that make up the large structure. Over 500 individual components make up the mother ship and its interchangeable Elements; more than many complicated timepieces.
It all began in 2014 when they brought out the Starfleet Machine clock.
MB&F is better known for their watches like the Horological Machine No.8 Can-Am.
MB&F always incorporates a special function in all its machines: the ability to make you smile. For the Fifth Element, that role goes to Ross the Alien: thanks to his own manually-wound, air-regulated movement, the alien pilot rotates around the UFO’s cockpit checking that the skies are clear of both clouds and hostile invaders.
In addition to the 8-day clock at the top of the Fifth Element, L’Epée created a second independent clockwork mechanism supported on bearings in the base and activated by a pushbutton so that Ross the alien pilot rotates along his merry way!
Three Limited Editions
The Fifth Element is available in 3 limited editions of 18 pieces each in Black, Silver and Blue priced at CHF 52,000 / $54,500 before taxes.
This is no lightweight toy as the complete Fifth Element weighs 15 kg being made of stainless steel, brass, and bronze (alien). In case of galactic calamity when all electric power is drained from our grids and Alexa no longer tells you the weather, The Fifth Element will still be running…..as long as you remember to wind it every 8 days.
VIDEO MB&F Fifth Element
Author’s Biography: Melvyn Teillol-Foo (MTF)
Dr Melvyn Teillol-Foo is a contributor on AlphaLuxe web-zine.
He was also CEO of PuristSPro.com horology discussion fora. He blends his scientific medical objectivity from the pharmaceutical industry with purist passion, in his musings about watches, travel, wine, food and other epicurean delights.
His travelogue ‘Lazing’ and feasting ‘Grazing’ series of articles have now passed into “mythic legend” on the original ‘ThePuristS.com’ website. Those were the halcyon days when he was “rich and famous” that he remembers with bittersweet fondness.
Dr Teillol-Foo is a quoted enthusiast on the watch industry, appearing in feature articles and interviews by Wall Street Journal, International Herald Tribune, Sunday Times (London), Chronos (Japan), Citizen Hedonist (France) and other publications. He has authored articles for magazines like International Watch (iW) – both U.S. & Chinese editions, ICON (Singapore), August Man (Singapore), Comfort (China) and The Watch (Hong Kong).