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The myth of a Giant Jellyfish

Medusa

If you thought the Aquapod was cool, checkout the Medusa - a table clock that mimics the mesmerising magic of the jellyfish

 

Just about three years ago, I sat down with Max Busser (the MB in MB&F) and asked him two questions about his new HM7 watch. One was about why the shape was so unique and the other was about the size. If you haven't seen the HM7 you can click on this link. It's a truly wonderful piece of horological design and engineering within a larger watch case. This is bigger deal than you would think as most watchmakers try their best to keep case sizes to around 42mm. The HM7 was a stonking 53mm! Such was the size of the thing that a few people I know who wear Diesel and Fossil watches went 'whoa'. Never let it be said that MB&F are a shy brand!

 

So why am I waxing lyrical about the HM7 in a story about the Medusa to you? Simply put, going big was great but going bigger is simply awesome. I've put the promo video on this page, watch that first please.

"Look at me" said Medusa

So why 'Medusa' and not Man'o'War or something jellyfishy? The associations that come with the name Medusa are varied and span the entire range of human experience, from the natural world’s mesmerising jellyfish with its trailing tentacles to the Gorgon of Greek myth whose every appearance could turn a man to stone. One thing is for sure, once you gaze into the depths of Medusa, it is hard to look away.

The central mass of Medusa is formed by a large transparent dome of hand-blown Murano glass that evokes the bell-shaped body of a mature jellyfish. Two rotating rings, one displaying the hours and the other displaying the minutes, are visible through the dome, and the time is read off a single fixed indicator that extends over the rings. Like a jellyfish glowing in the abyss, Medusa glows in the dark thanks to Super-LumiNova. A 2.5Hz (18,000vph) movement beats underneath the time indication, forming the pulsating heart of this mechanical creature.

The movement of Medusa is entirely new and required over two years of development by L’Epée 1839. Whereas the other co-creations had separate points of winding and setting, Medusa required a combined system for winding and setting, since the surrounding glass dome limits access to the movement. Furthermore, in order to maximise the visual impact of the clock and reinforce the source of its design inspiration, the movement was engineered around a central axis, mimicking the radial symmetry of a jellyfish’s neural column.

Perfecting the glass exterior of Medusa – available in blue, green or pink – was as challenging as any aspect of its movement creation. The pink edition, in particular, required multiple stages of layering red and clear glasses to achieve exactly the right shade desired.

For the best possible aesthetic result, the dome and tentacles had to be crafted from the same glass, which would give them the same optical qualities. The skill needed to produce by hand a set of consistent glass tentacles for each clock exists only in very few glassblowing houses. Add to this the difficulty of creating a hand-blown Murano glass dome that has to appear extremely light and delicate, and yet withstand the weight of a clock movement – it’s easy to see why only one Murano glassblower, out of the 40 companies that L’Epée 1839 approached, was able to accomplish the task.

Who did this?

One thing I always have to ask MB&F is who comes up with this stuff? Because you have to admit, the watchmaker makes some pretty far out clocks and watches. Remember Arachnapobia? How about Balthazar? Or even the HM6?

Independent designer Fabrice Gonet first proposed Medusa in 2016 to MB&F founder Maximilian Büsser, who immediately saw the appeal of Gonet’s sketch and recognised the essential spirit of an MB&F creation in its lines. Says Büsser, “I’ve known Fabrice for some years but we never had the chance to work together before. When he wanted to show me one of his designs, I accepted, even though I don’t normally say yes to this kind of thing — also because I saw that his design was of a clock and not a watch. The vision was so clear that, in the end, the final clock turned out to be very close to the initial sketch!”

Max Busser (left), founder of MB&F and Arnaud Nicolas, CEO of L'Epee

 

The builders though were L'Epee. It is the tenth time MB&F and the famed Swiss clockmaker have collaborated and it has been a good relationship for both companies. L'Epee have been a great secret for the rich and famous of Asia for a long time. It is not a name that most folks would know here in Asia. But as MB&F grows ever more popular on this continent, so too does L'Epee. And let's face it, most poeple don't know the name of the watches on their wrist.

But they know it on sight. And so it is for MB&F and L'Epee who have a lot of fans but many of whom don't know the name. And that's why you're reading this story. So have a look at the Medusa in your part of Asia. In Malaysia and Singapore, you can find it in The Hourglass. It's about USD25,000 a piece but certainly a clock that will serve its purpose as a spectacle.