Two luxury French horologists have combined their talents to design and build a time machine inspired by science fiction – more specifically by Star Trek’s Deep Space 9 Space Station*. Starfleet Machine, a $31,000 table clock, was designed by Maximilian Busser & Friends (MB&F) and engineered by L’Epée 1839, Switzerland’s only remaining specialized high-end clock manufacturer.
MB&F Starfleet Machine
Available in either a ‘Light’ or ‘Dark’ stainless steel and brass edition, the Starfleet Machine is an ultra-exclusive table clock (created in an edition of 175) , featuring essentially the same mechanisms as a wristwatch, only larger. The intergalactic spaceship-cum-table clock comes with its own transparent biosphere dome, fitting over the top and following the contours of the vessel’s three graceful arcs.
*You can see the resemblance between the Starfleet Machine and the Space Station on Star Trek’s Deep Space Nine Television series, shown below:
above: Deep Space 9, a Cardassian-built, Starfleet/Bajoran space station on Star Trek’s Deep Space Nine
Starfleet Machine is a unique clock featuring hours and minutes, double retrograde seconds and power reserve indicator. The highly visible, superlatively finished in-house movement boasts an exceptional power reserve of 40 days.
When conceiving Starfleet Machine, MB&F founder Maximilian Büsser set out to boldly go where no clock designer had gone before, and L’Epée enthusiastically enjoyed the ride. CEO Arnaud Nicolas says: “MB&F’s idea for Starfleet Machine blew my mind. Like Max, I am a big sci-fi fan so when MB&F came to us with the design, we had to accept the challenge. Our team has been really inspired by this piece, and we think others will be too.”
Hours and minutes are indicated on the central black dome by hand-polished hands that follow the dome’s curved contours. Behind that, a smaller rotating dome, accompanied by a revolving radar dish, provides an intuitive view of remaining energy: five bars indicates the movement is fully wound (40 days of power); one bar means Starfleet Machine is running low on propellant (eight days of remaining power).
Below 12 o’clock on the central hour-minute dome are the double retrograde seconds in the form of turret-mounted laser cannons. The cannons start in parallel and cross over one another before rapidly flying out again, an action marking off 20-second intervals. The red-tipped cannons provide eye-catching visual animation and the regulator has deliberately been placed in full view for all to admire.
One of the biggest challenges for L’Epée was respecting the movement configuration required by MB&F’s spacecraft design. L’Epée’s calibre – featuring five main spring barrels usually equips vertically standing clocks, but here it is laid flat. The escapement platform also had to be set horizontally to be protected by the turret-mounted laser cannons. Naturally, the movement beats with a precision of which Starfleet would be proud, for an impressive accuracy of -2 to +2 minutes over 40 days.
Every component (except the 48 jewels) of the superlatively finished palladium-treated brass movement is designed and manufactured at L’Epée’s Swiss atelier. The gears and mainspring barrels are on full display thanks to the skeletonised mainplate and concentric C-shaped external structure in stainless steel. Starfleet Machine can rest on both ends of its vertical landing gear; useful for when you turn it over to wind the mainspring and set the time.
When conceiving Starfleet Machine, MB&F founder Maximilian Büsser set out to boldly go where no clock designer had gone before, and L’Epée has enthusiastically enjoyed the ride. CEO Arnaud Nicolas says: “MB&F’s idea for Starfleet Machine blew my mind. Like Max, I am a big sci-fi fan so when MB&F came to us with the design, we had to accept the challenge. Our team has been really inspired by this piece, and we think others will be too.”
Starfleet Machine is limited to 175 pieces and is available in ‘light’ or ‘dark’ editions, the latter with ruthenium-finished components.
Starfleet Machine: Technical Specifications
Hours and minutes: Curved, hand-polished hands rotate to indicating hours and minutes on a polished, central dome. The dome features MB&F’s signature numerals.
Retrograde seconds: 20-second intervals indicated by double retrograde fly-out cannons emanating from central dome.
Power reserve indicator: a dome indicator, framed by a hand finished arc, provides an intuitive view of remaining energy as it turns 270°: 5 bars, 4 bars, 3 bars, 2 bars, 1 bar (1 bar = 8 days). Complemented by a ‘radar dish’ that also revolves 270°.
Height: approx. 21cm
Diameter: approx. 29cm
‘Light’ version: Inner C-shaped structure, external C-shaped structure, support arcs and screws: all in stainless steel
‘Dark’ version: Inner C-shaped structure, external C-shaped structure and support arcs: ruthenium-treated stainless steel
• Screws in stainless steel
L’EPÉE in-house designed and manufactured movement
Balance frequency: 18,000 vph / 2.5Hz
Barrels: 5 in series
Power reserve: 40 days
• Incabloc shock protection system
• Manual-winding: Double-ended key to set time and wind movement
• ‘Light’ version: Mechanism and main plate in palladium-treated brass
• ‘Dark’ version: Mechanism in palladium-treated brass, main plate in ruthenium-treated brass
Transparent ‘biosphere’ dome
Material: polished Plexiglas
Height: approx. 25cm
Maximum diameter: approx. 50cm