Designed by German designer Maximilian Maertens and developed by L’Epée 1839, the Swiss luxury brand specialized in manufacturing mechanical clocks, Orb’s minimalistic structure is composed of four elytra that not only open up, but can also swivel like a transformer to display the Orb in a variety of different positions. The shiny-white version is reminiscent of the first iPods with their lustrous curved cases, a surface that is particularly pleasing to the eye and the touch.
A clean designed sphere, revealing an hour-striking mechanism; the first chiming function to be released within L’Epée 1839 x MB&F creative art line.
The Orb clock is protected by 4 Elytra inspired from beetle insects, which can be opened not only to show the inside of the movement, but also to display this kinetic sculpture in multiple ways, like a polymorphic object.
During the manufacturing, nothing about this atypical project was easy, L’Epée faced two major challenges. The first was making the sphere in four pieces so that they could be totally transformable, durable, and also form a perfect sphere when closed.
The second significant challenge was developing the striking system. Usually, with a bell-chiming mechanism, gravity is needed to strike the bell. As the Orb’s brass bell can find itself in an infinite number of different positions, L’Epée 1839’s clockmakers incorporated several springs to strike the bell so it can chime even when it is flat. The system is a hybrid between a clock and a watch striking mechanism.
The sculptural clock has two barrels, one for the time and the other for the striking of the hours that are wound separately. The hour mechanism doesn’t just chime the passage of the hour, but indicates the actual hour, like a church clock. This function can also be repeated on demand via a button on the side of the clock, or turned on and off if required.
As for the movement, the eight-day calibre can be seen just slightly through the curved aluminium dial covered by a domed mineral glass, which has a hole in the centre to allow the setting of the time with a special key.
During its production process at the L’Epée 1839 manufacture, Orb started life as a solid block of aluminium that was then hollowed to create the perfect sphere. Once cut, the elytra was then coated with several layers of lacquer that were hardened in a kiln to create the brilliant finish. The four elytra were soldered to the structure with torque hinges so they can retain their angle however little or wide they are opened. When closed, the elytra are held in place with four tiny magnets on the interior of each tip to keep the shape of a perfect sphere.