Richard S. Cunanan
November 24, 2017     |    

Time, Tentacles, and History

Two Legs, Six Hands, And Time in a Bubble

“’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe”

— Lewis Carroll, ‘Jabberwocky

The new MB&F Octopod desk clock may bear some resemblance to their amazing Aquapod, but is a totally different timepiece, so, keep an open mind.

The Octopod is a desk clock, an eight-legged sculpture bearing an eight-day clock. It’s a polycarbonate sphere held up by eight stainless-steel legs. (polycarbonate sphere is made of two hemispheres joined together by a satin-finished, three-piece band.

When standing tall, the Octopod desk clock is about 28cm high, and 28cm in width. The Octopod is a striking piece of work, but most casual observers would notice the eight limbs holding up the clear polycarbonate sphere and stop there. In truth, what is going on INSIDE the sphere is even more interesting… and, in a very real sense, historical.

The clockworks are partially gimbaled, and this is historical because the Octopod is built to remain steady and level just as marine chronometers were during the age of marine exploration. Sea captains needed accurate, reliable clocks to determine their location at sea. If clocks got disabled, ships got lost and died. And because seagoing trade and exploration was such a key element to maintaining a nation’s empire, the business of clockmaking was literally the province of kings.

Royal rewards were offered to those clockmakers who could invent a clock that kept time even after months on very rough seas. Gimbals – balancers – were used to keep these clocks level, and thus accurate. So the gimbals on the Octopod are a direct descendant of the old Royal clockmakers’ inventions, and yet another link between the Octopod and the ocean.

The watchworks themselves float as if on water. The mainplate of the movement is made of glass that has been treated so that it is nearly invisible, so the caliber looks as if it is floating free. When L’ Epee 1839 was given the designs ideas that MB&F had been brainstorming, nobody really expected them to actually create a floating movement for the clockworks. But then, L’ Epee 1839 has the reputation for being Switzerland’s premier clockmaker, and they once again showed why that is.

And so we have the Octopod, conceived out of the minds of MB&F with their wild and fanciful ideas that take form in metal and glass, and built by L’ Epee 1839, the premier Swiss clockmakers of the modern age. The kind of clockmakers that cross oceans. The kind that serve kings. The kind that make magic.


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