MB&F creates the delightful automatons Kelys & Chirp

mechanical marvels

You might know MB&F as a creator of avant-garde timepieces, not all of them necessarily meant to be worn. But their fascination with mechanical marvels extends beyond horology, as we see with Kelys & Chirp collection (CHF49,000/RM205,000), which were created in collaboration with luxury music box producer Reuge, and micro mechanic Nicolas Court.

Kelys is a 24cm long, 1.4kg rhodium-plated brass torstoise with a shell set with 12 leather scales that come in one of four colours. Turn a key on the belly to wind up the mainspring, and Kelys begins moving — walking, to be exact, with a gait that mimics that of a real turtle. Simple in concept, but a formidable mechanical problem, eventually solved with the wizardry of elliptical gears and cams. As if that was not impressive enough, Kelys has a built-in friction clutch system that will stop the automaton from walking off a table edge.

And then there’s Chirp, an 18k white gold bird with sapphire who will pop out of the shell once Kelys starts moving. And she’ll sing — well, chirp — a birdsong while spinning around, flapping her wings and moving her beak, before retreating back into her nest.

They may appear simple from the outside, but there is no doubting the technical complexity of the pair that will rival a complicated watch. They don’t do anything as practical as telling the time — but who needs that, when you have a something as charming as these two?

MB & F

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