‘TOM & T-REX’ MB&F + L’EPEE 1839 FOR ONLY WATCH
Only Watch, the world’s most high-profile charity watch auction, returns in 2019 in its eighth edition to continue raising awareness of Duchenne muscular dystrophy and pursuing a cure for this genetic disorder primarily affecting male children. MB&F is participating in the Only Watch charity auction for the fifth time, donating one of its creations to be sold in support of the Association Monégasque contre les Myopathies.
All previous MB&F Machines created for Only Watch were unique pieces from existing collections that incorporated visual elements related to the auction. For this 2019 edition of Only Watch, MB&F and L’Epée have made the unprecedented choice to contribute a previously unreleased piece, highlighting the special nature of the auction.
‘Tom & T-Rex’ will be the first – and a unique – example of the T-Rex clock co-created by MB&F and L’Epée 1839, which is planned for general release at the end of August 2019.
What sets ‘Tom & T-Rex’ apart from the main T-Rex collection to follow? A sculpture mounted atop the body of the hybrid beast, shaped like the figure of a young child. The rider of T-Rex – who MB&F and L’Epée have named Tom – is both companion and ward of his redoubtable steed.
Tom specifically represents the children living with the degenerative disease that is Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which causes the gradual loss of basic motor functions, including the ability to walk. Tom, who spends his waking days tethered to an unfavourable reality, has found in T-Rex a friend who can take him on adventures beyond his wildest dreams. Measuring only 4.3cm high, the sitting rider is less than a fifth as tall as the 26.5cm T-Rex; in real-life proportions, it could easily look right into the second floor of an average apartment block. Cross-legged in a particularly youthful, tranquil yet vulnerable pose, Tom stares down into a transparent blue marble of Murano glass nestled in his cupped hands, perhaps imagining a different world…
Children are capable of great imaginative feats, and especially so in the case of those limited by illness or disability. T-Rex offers an escape for elastic minds, carrying its little companions away into fantastical realms with the earth-shaking strides of the mightiest of dinosaurs, under the fierce protection of an all-seeing cyborg eye. Made of hand-blown Murano glass, the “eyeball” also functions as a clock dial, indicating hours and minutes via two curved hands driven from the centre of the hemitoroidal component.
T-Rex is a metaphor for the factors that sustain the daily existence of a sick child: the flights of imagination that nourish the spirit and the scientific advancements that will one day effect a long-awaited cure. These symbolic elements are without a doubt what strike at first – but they are substantiated by the mechanical nature of the clock, crafted according to highest-quality clock making tradition. Beating within the 201 finely finished components is a hand-wound mechanical movement conceived and manufactured entirely in-house by L’Epée 1839: hours and minutes are regulated by the balance wheel beating at 2.5Hz (18,000vph), powered by a single barrel offering no less than 8 days of power reserve. Time is set with a key, fitted through the centre of the Murano glass dial, while the power reserve is separately maintained with the same key at the rear of the movement.
T-Rex is crafted primarily from palladium-plated brass, bronze, stainless steel and Murano glass, the contrasting strength and fragility of the materials providing a challenge to balance when executing the bold design. Despite being completely fixed in position, the jointed legs of T-Rex are deliberately posed to suggest energy and a sense of motion. A combination of sandblasted and polished surfaces directs the way that light interacts with the body of T-Rex, so that the clock seems light and agile, ready to run off with its diminutive passenger to a land where disease has ceased to exist.
More about Tom & T-Rex
Tom & T-Rex is a unique piece created for Only Watch, the first example — albeit with design modifications — to debut from the main T-Rex collection that is set to launch in autumn 2019.
As with all the MB&F clocks, T-Rex is a collaboration with Switzerland’s premier clockmaker, L’Epée 1839. Out of the 10 previous clocks made jointly by MB&F and L’Epée, T-Rex bears the closest design kinship to the clocks inspired by the animal kingdom such as Octopod or Arachnophobia. In the use of materials such as coloured Murano glass, it is closest to Medusa. Conceptually, the sentient cyborg panopticon “eyeball” that forms the main body of T-Rex shifts the clock closer to the robotic brethren of Balthazar, Melchior and Sherman.
The legs of T-Rex were modelled directly on actual Tyrannosaurus Rex bones, using 3D scans of fossilised dinosaur skeletons as references to create verisimilitude in the final design.
In line with the other Only Watch editions from MB&F, the Tom & T-Rex has a special design addition that is deeply connected to the charity and its cause — a palladium-plated bronze rider, sculpted to take the form of a young boy, holding a mystical light blue marble of Murano glass.
Also made of hand-blown Murano glass is the hemitoroidal dial of the clock that forms the “eyeball” of T-Rex. The “Only Watch” unique piece uses a light-blue tinted Murano glass; the subsequent collection will feature Murano glass components in red, deep blue and green.
Beating at the heart of T-Rex is a movement of 138 components, including the 2.5Hz (18,000vph) balance. Time is set with a key, fitted through the centre of the Murano glass dial, while the eight-day power reserve is separately maintained with the same key at the rear of the movement.
Established in 2005 and organised by the Association Monégasque contre les Myopathies under the patronage of HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, Only Watch is a biennial auction specialising in one-of-a-kind timepieces. The funds raised go towards research in treating and curing neuromuscular diseases, in particular Duchenne muscular dystrophy. To date, the auction has raised over EUR 40 million, over seven editions.
The 2019 Only Watch auction will be held in Geneva, the third year that the city is hosting the auction. Prior to the sale, the collection of watches up for auction will embark on a world tour, beginning with a showcase at the Monaco Yacht Show (25–28 September 2019) before travelling through Asia, the Middle East, the United States and finally back to Europe.
Only Watch 2019 will take place on Saturday 9 November and welcomes for the second time the experience and expertise of auction house Christie’s in presenting the world’s premier watchmaking charity event.
Tom & T-Rex: technical specifications
‘Tom & T-Rex’ is a unique piece created for the 2019 Only Watch charity auction.
A collection of T-Rex limited editions will follow in late August 2019.
Hours and minutes
Dimensions: 308 mm tall x 258 mm x 178 mm
Total components (movement + body): 201
Weight: approximately 2kg
Dial and marble: Murano hand-blown glass
Materials: stainless steel, palladium-plated brass and bronze
Finishing: polishing, satin-finishing and sandblasting
Body components: 63
L’Epée 1839 movement, designed and manufactured in-house
Balance frequency: 2.5 Hz / 18,000 vph
Power reserve: 8 days
Movement components: 138
Time setting: winding key to both set the time (in the centre of the dial) and wind the movement (on the barrel axis at the back)
L’EPEE 1839 – the premier clock manufacture in Switzerland
For more than 175 years, L’Epée has been at the forefront of clock making. Today, it is the unique specialised manufacture in Switzerland dedicated to making high-end clocks. L’Epée was founded in 1839, by Auguste L’Epée, who set up the business near Besançon, France to make music box and watch components.
From 1850 onward, the manufacture became a leading light in the production of ‘platform’ escapements, creating regulators especially for alarm clocks, table clocks and musical watches. By 1877, it was making 24,000 platform escapements annually. The manufacture became a well-known specialist owning a large number of patents on special escapements such as anti-knocking, auto-starting and constant-force escapements and the chief supplier of escapements to several celebrated watchmakers of the day. L’Epée has won a number of gold awards at international exhibitions.
During the twentieth century, L’Epée owed much of its reputation to its superlative carriage clocks and, for many, L’Epée was the clock of the influential and powerful; it was also the gift of choice by French government officials to elite guests. In 1976 when the Concorde supersonic aircraft entered commercial service, L’Epée wall clocks were chosen to furnish the cabins, providing passengers with visual feedback of the time. In 1994, L’Epée showed its thirst for a challenge when it built the world’s biggest clock with compensated pendulum, the Giant Regulator. At 2.2 m high, it weighs 1.2 tons – the mechanical movement alone weighs 120 kg – and required 2,800 man-hours of work.
L’Epée is now based in Delémont in the Swiss Jura Mountains. Under the guidance of CEO Arnaud Nicolas, L’Epée 1839 has developed an exceptional table clock collection, encompassing a range of sophisticated classic carriage clocks, contemporary design clocks and avant-garde horological sculptures. L’Epée clocks feature complications including retrograde seconds, power reserve indicators, perpetual calendars, tourbillons and striking mechanisms – all designed and manufactured in-house. Ultra-long power reserves have become a signature of the brand as well as superlative fine finishing.
MB&F – Genesis of a Concept Laboratory
2019 marked the 14th year of hyper-creativity for MB&F, the world’s first-ever horological concept laboratory. With 15 remarkable calibres forming the base of the critically acclaimed Horological and Legacy Machines, MB&F is continuing to follow Founder and Creative Director Maximilan Büsser’s vision of creating 3-D kinetic art by deconstructing traditional watchmaking.
After 15 years managing prestigious watch brands, Maximilian Büsser resigned from his Managing Director position at Harry Winston in 2005 to create MB&F – Maximilian Büsser & Friends. MB&F is an artistic and micro-engineering laboratory dedicated to designing and crafting small series of radical concept watches by bringing together talented horological professionals that Büsser both respects and enjoys working with.
In 2007, MB&F unveiled its first Horological Machine, HM1. HM1’s sculptured, three-dimensional case and beautifully finished engine (movement) set the standard for the idiosyncratic Horological Machines that have followed – all Machines that tell the time, rather than Machines to tell the time. The Horological Machines have explored space (HM2, HM3, HM6), the sky (HM4, HM9), the road (HM5, HMX, HM8) and water (HM7).
In 2011, MB&F launched its round-cased Legacy Machine collection. These more classical pieces – classical for MB&F, that is – pay tribute to nineteenth-century watchmaking excellence by reinterpreting complications from the great horological innovators of yesteryear to create contemporary objets d’art. LM1 and LM2 were followed by LM101, the first MB&F Machine to feature a movement developed entirely in-house. LM Perpetual and LM Split Escapement broadened the collection further. 2019 marks a turning point with the creation of the first MB&F Machine dedicated to women: LM FlyingT. MB&F generally alternates between launching contemporary, resolutely unconventional Horological Machines and historically inspired Legacy Machines.
As the F stands for Friends, it was only natural for MB&F to develop collaborations with artists, watchmakers, designers and manufacturers they admire.
This brought about two new categories: Performance Art and Co-creations. While Performance Art pieces are MB&F machines revisited by external creative talent, Co-creations are not wristwatches but other types of machines, engineered and crafted by unique Swiss Manufactures from MB&F ideas and designs. Many of these Co-creations, such as the clocks created with L’Epée 1839, tell the time while collaborations with Reuge and Caran d’Ache generated other forms of mechanical art.
To give all these machines an appropriate platform, Büsser had the idea of placing them in an art gallery alongside various forms of mechanical art created by other artists, rather than in a traditional storefront. This brought about the creation of the first MB&F M.A.D.Gallery (M.A.D. stands for Mechanical Art Devices) in Geneva, which would later be followed by M.A.D.Galleries in Taipei, Dubai and Hong Kong.
There have been distinguished accolades reminding us of the innovative nature of MB&F’s journey so far. To name a few, there have been no less than 4 Grand Prix awards from the famous Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève: in 2016, LM Perpetual won the Grand Prix for Best Calendar Watch; in 2012, Legacy Machine No.1 was awarded both the Public Prize (voted for by horology fans) and the Best Men’s Watch Prize (voted for by the professional jury). In 2010, MB&F won Best Concept and Design Watch for the HM4 Thunderbolt. In 2015 MB&F received a Red Dot: Best of the Best award – the top prize at the international Red Dot Awards – for the HM6 Space Pirate.