Well, what we’ve got for you here is a little non-traditional to say the least. MB&F and L’Epée 1839 have teamed up yet again, and I think it’s safe to say that this is their most ambitious creation yet. Having previously made a handful of clocks, including Balthazar, Melchior, and Arachnophobia, the two are pushing things further this time around with The Fifth Element, a desktop weather station that includes a clock, barometer, thermometer, and hygrometer. And oh yeah, the whole thing is “piloted” by a little alien. Like I said — non-traditional.
The Fifth Element was inspired by mid-century desktop weather stations, though you might never guess that from looking at it. This station takes some functional elements of those originals, but reimagines them aesthetically and pushes the boundaries technologically. When fully assembled, The Fifth Element includes over 500 components, measures 376mm across by 209mm high (14.8 x 8.2 inches), and weighs 15 kilograms (over 33 pounds). It’s not small. The main structure is made of solid brass and looks like a UFO with four pods, each of which contains one of the instruments. They can be taken out of the base, stood up on their own, and then reassembled in whatever configuration you might like.
At the core of The Fifth Element is the clock (and here you see it arranged on top). It is 124mm across and 92mm high (4.9 x 3.6 inches) and features familiar MB&F styling, specifically in terms of the typography. Powering it is an in-house L’Epée movement that has an eight-day power reserve and a vertical architecture that allows you to better see the key components, including the escapement. There are 161 parts in the movement and it has an Incabloc shock system so that you don’t disturb its performance when taking it in and out of the base station. The finishing is all to the same standards you’d expect from an MB&F watch and there’s plenty of volume to play with here.
Sitting on the base of the weather station is a solid bronze alien. He’s perched there as the “pilot” of the UFO and L’Epée 1839 engineered a special clockwork mechanism that can rotate him around the base of the weather station at the push of a button. Also, the alien’s name is Ross. Because of course it is.
As usual, MB&F have succeeded in creating an object that none of us actually need, but many of us will need. It’s mechanically complex, endlessly charming, and a great example of thinking about horology in a fun way that isn’t bound by typical conventions.
The Fifth Element is a limited edition of just 54 total pieces, with 18 being made in each of the three colours (black, silver, and blue). It is available right now and retails for CHF 52,000.