Every time Swiss duo MB&F and L’Epée come together, the result is something very special. This time around, the innovative watchmaker and Switzerland’s only high-end clock maker have joined forces to bring us something out of this world.
The new creation is called the Fifth Element, and it’s essentially a fancy horological weather station. What does it do, exactly? Even when the power is out, this contraption has four main components that will continue to function: clock, barometer, hygrometer, and thermometer.
- The Fifth Element in blue
If you only counted four elements, you’d be correct. The so-called “fifth element” is what happens when they are all combined, into what looks like an alien mothership. To cap it all off, the Unidentified Flying Object (UFO) is piloted by none other than Ross the alien pilot.
The core aspect of the Fifth Element is a clock, which is needed for meteorological observations. So L’Epée 1839 reengineered and skeletonised their excellent 8-day clock movement and maximized its visual appeal. The clock movement itself weighs 1,35kg, and that’s actually light considering that the entire piece weights a combined 15kg!
The barometer instrument measures air pressure, which can help you determine when bad weather is coming without needed to consult your favourite weather personality on TV. A quick crash course: increasing air pressure usually means clear weather, while decreasing air pressure suggests inclement weather.
For those wanting to keep the household humidity in check, the Fifth Element also has a hygrometer that measures the percentage of water vapour in the air. And last but not least, a thermometer is included, and we all know what that’s for.
- The removable instrument pods of the Fifth Element
Needless to say, the entire assembly is visually stunning. What I like particularly is that each instrument is removable and interchangeable, making them impressive standalone pieces or components of a larger whole.
And it also makes for a great conversation piece, not only for its visual appearance but also for the science lesson that comes with each of these analogue measuring tools.
The piece also has something to offer to mechanical lovers. With over 500 individual components forming the mother ship and its interchangeable elements, believe it or not the entire piece actually has more components than most grand complications out there today.
While the pieces making up the complex framework are milled from solid blocks of brass, this is far from a simple hunk of metal. Excellent finishing and great attention to detail can be seen throughout, and not least with the clock movement. It features the same superb fine finishing found on the finest wristwatches, including Geneva waves, bevelling, polishing, sandblasting, and circular and vertical satin finishing.
The Fifth Element is no doubt anachronistic – who really needs a table top weather station? But as with all other creation coming from MB&F and L’Epée, practicality is not really the point with this limited edition release.
The goal of this object of fantasy is to make you smile, and captain Ross is always ready for that mission. Thanks to his very own manually-wound and air-regulated movement, the alien pilot rotates around the UFO’s cockpit, as if to check that the skies are clear for take-off.