MB&F deploys Melchior desk clock

Geneva-based MB&F has turned 10-years old this year and to celebrate the occasion, the Horological Lab will present several anniversary pieces during 2015, under the theme ‘A creative adult is a child who survived’. The stainless steel robot you see here is actually a desk clock that was created in association with L’Epée 1839, and is the first of the anniversary pieces. He is known as Melchior.

Iron Giant? 146-components make up Melchior's body and armour. He also weighs nearly seven kilograms.

Iron Giant? 146-components make up Melchior’s body and armour. He also weighs nearly seven kilograms.

Melchior is a highly finished and uniquely styled mechanical desk clock, which comprises no less than 480-components. He displays jumping hours, sweeping minutes, double retrograde seconds, and offers a power reserve of 40-hours when fully wound.

The moving components on Melchior serve to give animation to its striking robot form, starting right at the top with its domed head. Here, you’ll find the regulator that governs the clock’s timekeeping, while just below, the retrograde action of Melchior’s eyes marks 20 second intervals. The fixed vents and revolving discs, as well as the radial propellers gives the illusion that Melchior is opening and closing his eyes.

There are two different versions of Melchior, this is the rear of the two-tone 'dark and light' edition. We thought of Star Wars immediately.

There are two different versions of Melchior, this is the rear of the two-tone ‘dark and light’ edition. We thought of Star Wars immediately.

Slightly lower on the body, rotating discs with MB&F’s standard Arabic numerals tell the time, with the help of a prominent breast plate that features pointers to indicate the hour and minutes. An additional dial found on the roboclock’s abdomen indicates the power reserve of the movement.

Beyond these time- and movement-related animations, Melchior has movable arms so can be played with. Speaking of which, the robot’s right arm packs a rocket launcher, while the left arm boasts a Gatling gun, and because the arms are said to offer a reasonable range of mobility, the owner should be able to create some interesting poses. The Gatling gun also serves another purpose, it can be detached and used to wind the movement and set the time. Check out the video below to see Melchior in action.

Melchior was conceived and developed by MB&F, and engineered by Switzerland’s only specialised high-end clock manufacture, L’Epée 1839. Maximilian Büsser, MB&F’s Owner and Creative Director was the driving force behind the project, drawing inspiration from his quest to revisit his childhood desire for a robot friend.

Büsser says, “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, man’s best friend was his robot. As a 10-year-old fan of Star Wars, I knew Luke Skywalker could never have prevailed had it not been for droids like R2-D2 – a loyal, resourceful and brave robot who was always saving his friends. As an only child, I imagined having my own robot companion… Melchior makes that childhood fantasy a reality.”

Melchior is limited to 99 pieces and is available as a monochromatic ‘light’ edition or as a two-tone ‘dark and light’ edition. MB&F says it will produce an additional, unique Melchior, which will be donated to a charity auction later in the year.

Our take

First and foremost, we’d like to offer MB&F and Maximilian Büsser (Max) our heartiest congratulations on hitting the 10-year milestone. From the moment they come into existence, independent brands like MB&F face a long and challenging uphill battle. As small organisations with limited resources, they really have to tread carefully to make positive headway in what is a very competitive industry.

Max has always said that he and his company create for themselves, and the fact that he and his team have done this consistently, while staying in business and earning a healthy degree of worldwide admiration, is an incredible feat. We have the greatest of respect and admiration for what Max does on a day-to-day basis, and while we are sure there have been bumps in the road, we hope to continue seeing incredible creations from Max and his friends for many years to come.

The horological components add a great deal of animation to Melchior. We've even heard him 'ticking' in videos.

The horological components add a great deal of animation to Melchior. We’ve even heard him ‘ticking’ in videos.

Now, onto Melchior. While we haven’t seen Melchior in person, the pictures and videos have us convinced that MB&F’s latest is an epic desk clock. The finish looks fantastic and the movement, which looks to be spread over half the robot is a work of horological art. The robot keeps time courtesy of five main spring barrels arranged in series, and this is what gives Melchior his lengthy 40-day power reserve. For comparison, most desk clocks top out at eight days of power reserve.

The moving dials and regulator work well to bring Melchior to life, and the fact that you can pose the robot’s arms are just icing on the cake. We’re convinced the lucky owners will be able to spend hours just toying around with Melchior – we’ve already concocted several scenarios in our head that we’d use Melchior to feature in.

Our only real concern is keeping Melchior clean and secure – the former isn’t too much of a concern but with the latter, we’d worry about people or other objects interfering with the exposed, finely finished and beautifully complicated movement. In fact, we’d recommend investing in a sealed glass display case for Melchior to sit in, when you’re not actively playing with him.

We've imagined ourselves aiming the Gatling gun and using our best Doctor Evil impression, saying 'Fire the laser!'.

We’ve imagined ourselves aiming the Gatling gun and using our best Doctor Evil impression, saying ‘Fire the laser!’.

We’re trying to confirm local pricing and availability through MB&F’s Dubai distributor, Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons, though news online indicates that Melchior retails for approximately US $35,000. That’s not what we would call inexpensive but we reckon this robot has the right stuff, whether you consider its incredible design and aesthetics or the fact that it is MB&F’s first 10-year anniversary piece.

As always, we recommend doing your homework and experiencing the product before buying if possible, but if what you’ve seen here has got your palms sweaty, and you want to add considerable horological character to your home or office, we think you should pull the trigger on Melchior. We certainly would.

To learn more about Melchior, click here.

To learn more about Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons, click here.

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