Deep Space On Your Desk: MB&F Starfleet Machine
The year is 2369 and Commander Benjamin Sisko has just been assigned to a new station orbiting the planet Bajor. The station previously belonged to the Cardassians (not to be confused with the ancient Kardashian clan and its empress Kim) and went by the name Terok Nor.
After the terrible Cardassian occupation of Bajor, the Bajorans entered into a partnership with the United Federation of Planets for joint control of the now empty space station. The station was immediately moved to a nearby wormhole and renamed Deep Space Nine.
Deep Space Nine was a Nor-class space station originally built in 2351 as a mining and refinery station. It has a wide array of weapons including, but not limited to, 48 rotary-mounted phaser arrays and 5,000 photon torpedoes.
Just over 1,451 meters, Deep Space Nine is almost 16 football fields long and weighs over 10 million metric tons. So if you are ever in the Cardassian system in the Alpha quadrant and you want to stop by for a visit, feel free.
Though even with current technology you wouldn’t be arriving for quite a while.
At present we can travel at about 0.00002 percent of the speed of light in the space shuttle, so given a distance of about 50 l.y. to Bajor it would take you 1.86 million years to reach Deep Space Nine. And you would have just missed Commander Sisko by about two million years.
Even though the entirety of the preceding paragraphs was fictional, it is enough to make you realize that in your lifetime, you are unlikely to ever see the moons of a distant planet orbiting a distant star.
Not to mention the fact that visiting Deep Space Nine will only ever be a fantasy-wrapped in a dream.
For this reason, and others I am sure, it is not surprising that Max Büsser decided to turn fantasy into reality and traverse the expanse of space to bring Deep Space Nine to you.
It may only be in form instead of function, but the Starfleet Machine by MB&F is definitely a very functional piece of fantasy for your desk.
Fantasy for your desk
Your desk? Well, yes, silly. You see, following Musicmachine, this is the second non-watch machine for MB&F, though this one actually does tell you the time.
Beside being a fantasy machine, it is also a table clock built with the wonderful skills of historic Swiss clockmaker, L’Epée 1839.
Chances are that unless you already know of the Starfleet Machine, or are really into fine Swiss clock making, you may just be in the dark when it comes to L’Epée.
L’Epée is the last remaining high-end Swiss clock maker and currently makes some of the best looking haute horlogerie clocks out there.
Mixing modern finishing with classic details, L’Epée definitely nailed it with the Starfleet Machine.
And MB&F showed us yet again why the brand is inspired by science fiction and the race to the stars, because it is simply fantastible!
The shape of the Starfleet Machine alone is enough to inspire wonder in those who view it, but when you peer into the depths of the exposed works and start to notice the details; a whole new appreciation begins to form. So let’s take a look at it.
Peer into the depths
First and foremost, this is a tabletop version of the Deep Space Nine, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. One quick Google search and you will be completely convinced of this fact.
The outer docking ring with the three docking pylons forming the main frame and legs; the inner habitation ring acting as a mounting ring for the movement; and the central core and operations center, which is represented by the L’Epée-designed movement and display domes.
The only things missing are a couple small runabouts and the USS Defiant.
The movement, which is fairly straightforward (hours, minutes, retrograde seconds, power reserve), is laid bare for all to see.
As the movement is not required to be squinched into a tiny watch case, the wheels, pinions, and barrels have ample room to breathe.
You can clearly trace the path of power coming from the five generously-sized mainspring barrels connected in series, all the way through to the balance wheel out front. Mounted in what could be a landing pad, the balance wheel sits protected underneath two “laser cannons,” which are actually retrograde second hands.
These hands sweep for enemies, snapping back to their starting positions every twenty seconds. This is thanks to a six-pointed snail cam with a two-minute cycle time upon which a pallet jewel slides and releases the dual cannons.
Reading the time is the aspect probably most familiar, at least to ardent MB&F passionistas. This is because the hours and minutes are read via a central aluminum dome similar to those found on the HM3.
If not for the entire shape of the main frame and the playfulness of the design, the domed indicators are the final betrayer of who is the driving force behind the Starfleet Machine.
This characteristic is repeated again for the power reserve indicator as well. A dome supported on one side by two arcs creating a “window” gives you a place to view the remaining power left in the five barrels. It has indicators showing time remaining in blocks of eight days since there are 40 full days of power reserve on the Starfleet Machine.
Next to the dome is a partner radio dish rotating in the same 270-degree arc and connected in tandem with the dome. This all combines to create short and long-term animation for an already engaging clock.
So here is where the rubber meets the road; by rubber I mean finishing and by road I mean components. Sometimes you just need to go with the analogies.
With the larger scale and plentiful surfaces available, fine finishing is no small task. Combine a skeletonized movement with components you don’t need a loupe to see and there is much less room for error and a greater risk of wasting time and effort with a single slip of the file.
Most surfaces are perfectly polished, and the ones that are not are grained and satin finished – as are the sides of the bridges. The top plate is covered with perfect Geneva waves and all of the movement components are palladium-treated on the light version and ruthenium-treated on the dark version.
Caught by surprise
The reason this piece is so titillating to me is that it caught me by surprise. When I visited MB&F at Baselworld 2014, I expected to see an exciting timepiece, but was not prepared for this. I remember that I began to laugh out loud because it was so unexpectedly amazing that I couldn’t help myself.
It was completely MB&F, but at the same time it was something that belonged to sci-fi fans across the world, a piece of their subculture.
It just also happened to be a very high-end piece of clock making that was dressed in nerd clothing.
Beside that, we get to the reason I am so passionate about this stuff in the first place, it is an incredible display of mechanical engineering that can be appreciated by the novice and expert alike.
If I was six years old I would stare at it just as long as I stare at it now that I am much older. Many mechanical clocks I was fascinated by as a child were intricate, but none finished so beautifully and with such a twist of modern culture tossed in.
I think the juxtaposition that is created by every MB&F piece, and those by other boundary-pushing independents, is what really invigorates me time and time again. (See what I did there?) They keep the field fresh with new ideas and new ways of looking at old concepts, so that the past is honored and the future is embraced.
And for that reason I think even classic Cardassian frenemy Gul Dukat would appreciate every aspect of the Starfleet Machine.
That or he would have a breakdown trying to lie about it . . .
Did someone mention a breakdown?
• Wowza Factor * 9.59 It’s a space station on your desk that tells you the time, shoots fricken’ laser beams, and looks B.A. from every direction. Nuff’ said.
• Late Night Lust Appeal * 73.45 gn » 720.298m/s2 Did I forget to mention warp drive? Well I imagine a number approaching warp forces is appropriate, even if warp is theoretically unproven yet.
• M.G.R. * 68.29 L’Epée movement designed in collaboration with MB&F and the United Federation of Planets? Yes, please!
• Added-Functionitis * Severe A power reserve is one of the most useful added functions on a timepiece, but the laser cannons make this one dangerous clock! I would recommend the prescription strength Gotta-HAVE-That cream asap.
• Ouch Outline * 11.15 – Forgetting To Brace Yourself Before Being Shot Out Of A Cannon This is the only thing that I think is appropriate to show exactly what you would be dealing with when acquiring a space station meant for deep space. Pain, space pain. But for the Starfleet Machine, it’s worth it.
• Mermaid Moment * That looks so familiar! The ten seconds that it takes you to realize you are looking at a piece of future space history is all the time you need to fall madly in love. Should I get roses or lilies for the centerpieces?
• Awesome Total * 375 Forty days of power reserve multiplied by five mainspring barrels. Add that to the 175 limited pieces and you have a darn fine total for a space station clock!
For more information, please visit www.mbandf.com/machines/performance-art/starfleet-machine and www.lepee-clock.ch.
Size: 21 x 29 cm
Movement: L’Epée in-house designed and manufactured, available in Light (palladium-treated movement) or Dark (ruthenium-treated movement) versions
Functions: hours, minutes, retrograde seconds, power reserve
Price: 28,000 Swiss francs