With MB&F, you’ll never know what’s going to be next. Will it be a new Sci-Fi or Steampunk watch? Will be it be a music-box shaped like a space-vessel? Will it be a robot-like table clock? This is the beauty of this independent “creative-lab” watchmaker. They still continue to surprise us after 11 years of existence. As part of their Pre-SIHH 2018 launch, MB&F, in association with Reuge and Nicolas Court, introduces Kelys & Chirp – and this time, it’s not a watch, it’s not a clock, it’s not a music-box… It is a mechanical walking turtle combined with a singing bird.
The least we can say with this new MB&F Kelys & Chirp, created together with long-term partner Reuge and automaton specialist Nicolas Court, is that the brand is again creating something unusual, surprising, away from the traditional codes and totally unique. Yes, what you look at here is a mechanical walking turtle that can open on top and reveal a singing bird automaton. No, it doesn’t give time and yes, it has one single purpose, being a dream machine that puts a smile on your face. Yet, what’s inside are complex mechanics.
This creation is the union of two unlikely companions living inside the same frame. Kelys is a stylized and coloured turtle (its name comes from the Greek chelone or chelys for tortoise). Under the hood, or inside its shell, lives Chirp, a mechanical singing bird. Not the kind of symbiosis you’ll imagine in real life, but after all, do people at MB&F live in the real world? The overall “object” (I’m struggling to find a name for it) is playful, full of references and made to bring joy.
The MB&F Kelys & Chirp is a large and heavy piece of mechanics, as measuring 24cm (length) × 16cm (width) × 8cm (high without bird open), with a total weight of 1.4kg. Made mainly out of brass and steel, it is first a mechanical walking turtle. Indeed, thanks to gearing and cams hidden underneath its body, Kelys & Chirp can move – the animation of the legs is just to create the illusion, as the real walking mechanism is under the shell. Just like a real turtle, it moves relatively slowly, with a speed of 0.03mph. And if you’re scared that this huge block of metal could fall from your table, be reassured, as it features a friction clutch security system, which detects surface edges and immediately stops the turtle moving forward over the abyss…
Inside the shell is something more. When the mechanics inside Kelys & Chirp are activated, the large scale on top opens and reveals an automaton shaped like a bird and singing – a reference to the invention of Pierre Jaquet-Droz who invented the concept of the singing bird automaton. Chirp is springing from her nest and pirouetting, her beak opening and closing, wings flapping, and tail wagging, all in time to the melodic birdsong (look at the video above to see it in motion). The overall machinery is far from simple and comprises no less than 480 parts. The bird is crafted in 18k white gold and can even be activated alone, by actuating the turtle’s tail.
The new MB&F Kelys & Chirp will be available in 4 different editions, depending on the colour of the leather used to create the scales – green, yellow, red and blue. Each version is a limited edition of 18 pieces, with a price of CHF 49,000 before taxes. We’ll make sure to get our hands-on it during the SIHH 2018, just to share with you the motion and sound of yet another inspired creation by Max Bûuser and his friends Reuge and Nicolas Court.
More details on www.mbandf.com.