We were already aware that the folks at MB&F have the ability to surprise us. And guess what, they do it again. Their latest creation, made with clockmaker L’Epée, is actually not only a clock. “The Fifth Element”, as they name it, is an intergalactic horological weather station enabling accurate weather forecasting even when the power goes down. Four separate elements combine in a mothership to create an entity much larger than the sum of its parts: The Fifth Element. Intriguing, isn’t it?
There’s always a certain ambivalence with MB&F x L’Epée’s creations. On one side are the clear high-tech, sci-fi inspirations. On the other are the anachronistic functions. Who really needs a table clock these days? But that’s why these creations become essential… Because of this ambivalence, of this anachronistic concept, which makes them far from necessary and then, so desirable. The new creation, an analogue weather station combined to a desk clock might well be the epitome of this very idea. MB&F 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 MB&F x L’Epee The Fifth Element is in the vein of multiple Busser creations. It has this old-school, slightly outdated sci-fi inspiration that talks to the child in us. The Fifth Element merges classic UFO films, books, and comics of the 1950-60s with the desktop weather stations that were popular before weather forecasts were available on our phones, and adds the concepts of transparency and biomorphism dear to Max and his team, in order to create another “out-of-this-world” object. Intriguing, fascinating, shocking, completely useless or essential? Each will make his own opinion, but once again, we face another impressively inspired design here that will create strong emotions – whatever the type of emotions we talk about.
The Fifth Element comprises 4 removable and interchangeable instrument Elements, each of them displaying a specific indication – related to the time or the weather. All of them are shaped like space pods, protected by a highly domed glass display. All of them can be used independently, placed separately on a table or onto the framework. All of them can be placed anywhere on the framework. And all of them are working independently from the other.
The first one is, of course, a clock element. Inside this first element is the L’Epée in-house movement, with 8-day power reserve. This movement is usually found in desk clock and positioned vertically. This is why it had to be redesigned in order to find its place inside The Fifth Element, with the balance and escapement being rotated 90 degrees. This movement features finishing found on the finest wristwatches, including Geneva waves, bevelling, polishing, sandblasting, and circular and vertical satin finishing.
The three other elements are linked to the weather forecast functionalities:
- 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.
- Hygrometer, which 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.
- Thermometer, which doesn’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.
Finally, there’s the last element – the fifth element indeed, or mothership to receive all 4 other elements. Several structures and shapes were tried and tested, including a vertical configuration, before the final form was validated. The final result is a framework milled from solid blocks of brass, which isn’t just a fixed part of this unique creation. Included in this mothership is a second, independent clockwork mechanism supported on bearings in the base and activated by a pushbutton. This starts Ross, the signature alien pilot found on various MB&F creations, who is slowly rotating around the mothership “as though constantly scanning the skies for both inclement weather and hostile invaders”.
The Fifth Element is a massive object, available in 3 different colours (silver, blue or black), measuring 376mm in diameter and 209mm in height, weighing 15kg. No less than 531 components, in steel, brass or bronze, are needed to create this horological weather station. The MB&F The Fifth Element is available in 3 limited editions of 18 pieces each and priced at CHF 52,000 before taxes. More details on mbandf.com.