Conceived and developed by MB&F, and engineered and crafted by L’Epée 1839, Switzerland’s only specialised high-end clock manufacture, Arachnophobia is described as the result of MB&F founder Maximilian Büsser’s overactive imagination blending with his appreciation of art.
Arachnophobia was inspired by a giant spider sculpture called Maman that Büsser had seen in both Geneva and Doha. Maman (mother in French), was created by Louise Bourgeois (1911 – 2010) in bronze, stainless steel, and marble. Measuring 9.27 x 8.91 x 10.24 metres (more than 30 x 33 feet), the monumental sculpture has been installed in a variety of locations around the world.
Büsser developed the concept with L’Epée, selecting a high-end L’Epée clock movement and re-imagining it as the mechanical head and torso of a spider. The body is outfitted with a black dome with white numerals depicting the hours and minutes. The clock’s self-sufficiency is thanks to its highly-visible movement with a power reserve of eight days.
At either end of Arachnophobia’s time-displaying abdomen, important mechanical processes take place: the head houses the regulator with its oscillating balance wheel (and a set of jaws in case it gets peckish at night), while the other end contains the mainspring barrel, which powers the movement.
Attached to the abdomen are eight, visually enticing legs articulated where they join the body by ball-and-socket joints. The legs can be rotated so that Arachnophobia can stand tall on a desk or splayed flat for wall mounting. A third position provides an optical treat like the Bourgeois sculpture that inspired them. The front legs can also be pushed forward while the six others maintain the standing position. “This makes the spider look like it will bite something,” Arnaud Nicolas explains.
To really make a statement, L’Epée has also developed a system enabling Arachnophobia to be hung on a wall. An innovative catch underneath the movement hooks on to a stainless steel wall bracket.
“Making this clock was an adventure; it is the first time we went so far on a design. In fact, the clock was made in two steps. The first one was the spider itself, and the second took place in the middle of a meeting when I was presenting it and had the spider in my hand near a wall. I was explaining how incredible this new clock was when the idea of hanging it on the wall popped up in my mind.” Nicholas Arnaud
In creating Arachnophobia’s highly visible movement, L’Epée had to transform its eight-day movement to look more like a spider body. The palladium-plated main plates were redesigned as was the layout of the gear train to fit the design. The escapement was rotated 90° to better represent the head.
The hours and minutes are read on a high dome representing the spider’s body, with rotating curved hands indicating hours and minutes on a polished, central dome featuring MB&F’s signature numerals.
The movement’s regulating organ features an Incabloc shock protection system, which minimizes the risk of damage when the clock is being transported. This type of shock protection is generally only seen in wristwatches. The index mechanism for fine-tuning the timing, along with the other components of this all-important high-precision subassembly, are clearly visible on the head.
The underside of the spider is the key (quite literally) to winding and setting Arachnophobia. The owner must interact with the clock in an intimate manner to wind and set the time of this precision instrument, thereby building a close relationship with it.