TriPod: The $27,000 clock that is inspired by an insect

The latest ‘robocreature’ by MB&F is a highly unusual horological machine

Tripod is the latest collaboration between MB&F and Swiss clockmaker L’Epée 1839. Courtesy MB&F
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A minimalist clock face suspended between three delicate, insect-like legs, TriPod is the latest collaboration between MB&F and Swiss clockmaker L'Epee 1839. It is entirely in keeping with MB&F's mission statement: "To assemble collectives of independent watchmaking professionals to develop radical watches."

The Tripod in neon blue. Courtesy MB&F
The Tripod in neon blue. Courtesy MB&F

The clock requires some interaction between man and machine. Its dial is composed of a set of rotating discs, with an outer disc displaying the hour and an inner one showing the minutes in increments of 15. It has three optical spheres that magnify the clock’s numbers to make them legible.

To allow all three of the “insect eyes” to show the time from any angle, the dial features three sets of numerals, meaning it completes a full rotation in 36 hours instead of the customary 12. “The precision of the sphere had to be very, very accurate,” explains Arnaud Nicolas, chief executive of L’Epée 1839. “It’s not at all common for a ball-shaped piece of glass to have the tolerance of an optical lens.”

Three optical spheres magnify the clock’s numbers. Courtesy MB&F
Three optical spheres magnify the clock’s numbers. Courtesy MB&F

The 26-centimetre tall TriPod is made of plated brass and weighs about 2.8 kilograms, with its mass distributed over its delicately sculpted legs. The TriPod is available in neon blue, green and red, with only 50 pieces of each being made. It is powered by a movement completely designed and produced in-house by L’Epee 1839. 

Following the T-Rex, the TriPod is second in what will be a trilogy of half-animal, half-robot creations that MB&F calls robocreatures. "In the same way that artist H R Giger created his Alien universe, we're creating our own world of creatures," says MB&F founder Maximilian Busser. "These clocks are our companions. They live. They tick. They're like a pet – bringing life into your interior." 

The clock was envisaged by young designer Maximilian Maertens during an internship at MB&F. He drew inspiration from the 1993 film Jurassic Park, the first movie he remembers watching as a child. While the primary inspiration is the mosquito caught in amber that provides the DNA to genetically create new dinosaurs in the film, for the clock's design, Maertens emulated gerridae, a family of insects that can walk on the surface of water using surface tension and their long, hydrophobic legs.

"It feels much like a levitating insect walking over the water and this inspired me to create something that looks very delicate," Maertens explains. "This is a direction I like to go in, even if it caused some strife with the engineers over issues like stability."