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MB&F + L'Epée 1839's "The Fifth Element" Weather Station

An entirely mechanical UFO featuring a thermometer, a barometer, and a hygrometer

by David Graver
on 19 March 2018

No one in the world of horlogerie understands the dual-force effect of science fiction with purpose quite like MB&F. On a broader level, every release from the imaginative design house emphasizes the power of artistic and technical exploration, and consumers have appreciated the eccentric yet useful benefits of this. The brand's name—short for Maximilian Büsser and Friends—calls to attention the fact that their pieces are collaborative, and the latest release, The Fifth Element, sees a return to partnership with mechanical clockmaker L’Epée 1839. Not satisfied with the only telling time, the collaborators produced a mechanical weather station with pods featuring a thermometer, a barometer, and a hygrometer. And while there's the cosmic allusion to the film "The Fifth Element," the name here references the fact that this sculpture is more than the sum of its four functional attributes. There's an untold fifth element at play—and we agree.

Aesthetically, MB&F has imagined this piece as an intergalactic space station piloted by their signature alien known as Ross (who actually rotates on the machine). That said, its inspiration was mid-century desktop weather stations. Büsser himself sought one out but wasn't able to find exactly what he needed—and thus began to develop one himself. L’Epée's technical developments manifest in the reengineered and skeletonized eight-day clock movement, as well as the more than 500 individual components that make up the mothership and its three other curved measurement devices. As these two organizations have sought to keep analog devices in the hearts and minds of the digital world, it's ever so important to see these particular mechanical weather-related items brought into the 21st century with style.

The Fifth Element is available now in three colorways (black, silver and blue) each of which is priced at CHF 52,000 and limited to 18 pieces.

Images courtesy of MB&F

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