Miki Eleta’s Timeburner: A Salute To Noise, Grease, Chrome, And A Special BMW Motorbike
Miki Eleta reminisces about this sound that still haunts him both in his sleep and during his waking, working hours.
But it isn’t the tick-tock of a timepiece that his subconscious remembers. It’s something else: the distinctive acoustics of the large two-cylinder boxer engine of a 1950s BMW motorbike.
Eleta’s father was a train driver and this proximity to large machines instilled a love of all things mechanical in him. Miki was expert at taking apart the family Vespa and bicycles and putting them back together back at his then-home in Visegrad, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Who would have thought that his path would lead him to finer, cleaner, and less noisy mechanics? And in Switzerland of all places?
But here he is: a member of the AHCI since 2008, showcasing his incredible kinetic sculptures alongside some thirty-odd other artisans of varying nationality.
And, indeed, if there was ever a year to bring out a collaborative wristwatch, this year would definitely be it. After all, the AHCI was created with the spirit of diversity and collaboration in mind 30 years ago this year.
Miki Eleta and Marc Jenni: a dream team
Timeburner represents Eleta’s premier foray into the wristwatch while also representing a nostalgic tribute of sorts to his childhood.
Timeburner also represents the first instance of two AHCI members − Miki Eleta and Marc Jenni − publicly working together. Eleta (clockmaker/kinetic artist) came up with the concept and created a functioning prototype, while Jenni (watchmaker) developed and produces the production models. Miki Eleta’s name is on the dial, while the back of the nicely modified Unitas movement is engraved “Powered by Marc Jenni.”
While the visuals of the Timeburner are inspired in general by Eleta’s love for mechanics, forces, and motion, the specific elements of this timepiece originate in recreating the soul – not the actual features – of a 1950 BMW motorcycle that he grew up dreaming about one day owning.
The BMW he heard in both his dreams and in reality making the “tack-tack” sound unfortunately only belonged to his neighbor.
Eleta’s sense of design combines exceedingly well with Jenni’s pragmatic, energetic construction expertise. The result is simply irresistible: like an engine converting chemical energy (petrol) into mechanical energy (motion), this cool watch converts spark plug energy (winding the crown) into motion along a non-linear time scale.
The “engine” comprises a manually wound, converted Unitas 6497-1 movement that Jenni modified to fit the needs of the idiosyncratic Timeburner.
Its dial does not put the emphasis on the time, but is rather more of an unabashed celebration of the internal combustion engine.
Hours are displayed in what superficially appears to be jump hours, but they actually rotate across a small arc at the bottom of the dial. It’s the minutes, though, that create all of the internal combustion engine action.
The minute hand pinion, which would normally have the minute hand attached, acts as a camshaft and drives a push rod, which is in turn connected to a aluminum piston. As the camshaft rotates, the piston slides up and down and indicates 0 to 30 minutes in one direction and 30 to 60 minutes in the other.
The masculine case is topped off by a steampunkish bronze crown à la Vianney Halter.
In a neat personal touch, the price of 12,673 Swiss francs is a partial nod to the date that Miki Eleta arrived in Switzerland: December (12) 6, 1973. It’s a pity he didn’t come a month later (so that the price began with a 1 rather than a 12).
The minutes are non-linear because the piston moves slower near the beginning and end of its stoke, so the spaces between the minute markers have to be close together near the ends and further apart in the middle.
Eleta’s salute to “noise, grease, and chrome,” as he so poetically describes it, is available in three versions, each of which is limited to just 99 pieces: Silverlight, Chrome-Rider (beadblasted black chrome-plated), and All-Black (black chrome-plated).
Case: 48 mm, stainless steel (Silverlight version) with untreated bronze bezel and crown; beadblasted black chrome-plated on Chrome-Rider version, black chrome-plated on All-Black version
Movement: manually wound, modified Unitas 6497-1
Functions: hours shown in an arc across the bottom of the dial; non-linear, bi-directional, retrograde minutes
Limitation: 99 pieces of each variation
Price: 12,673 francs (excluding taxes and shipping)