A spider that is very much welcome in your house - telling the time with two hands and eight legs...

Recently we thought it would be fun to take a look at a slightly different side to watchmaking in the form of clocks. Don’t worry though, these aren’t just any clocks as they come from the minds of L’Epée. With a history dating back to 1839 L'Epée is now based in Delémont in the Swiss Jura Mountains. Under the guidance of CEO Arnaud Nicolas, L’Epée 1839 has developed an exceptional table clock collection, encompassing a range of sophisticated classic carriage clocks, contemporary design clocks (Le Duel, La Tour) and avant-garde horological sculptures (Sherman, Starfleet Machine, Arachnophobia) launched since the celebration of its 175th anniversary, is intended to shock, evoke and inspire people, not to toe the line. L’Epée clocks feature complications including retrograde seconds, power reserve indicators, perpetual calendars, tourbillons and striking mechanisms – all designed and manufactured in-house. Ultra-long power reserves have become a signature of the brand as well as superlative fine finishing. Today let’s kick things off with the Arachnophobia...

The ‘Arachnophobia’ by L’Epée / MB&F - Image Credit: L’Epée / MB&F

In the last years, MB&F - the Geneva-based creative lab - in partnership with the Manufacture L’Epée 1839, has presented some very extreme machines, and the visually powerful Arachnophobia is as extreme as they come. Despite Arachnophobia's intense appearance, the eye-catching three-dimensional sculpture is also an impeccably finished table (and wall) clock.

Conceived and developed by MB&F, and engineered and crafted by L’Epée 1839 – Switzerland's only specialised high-end clock manufacture – Arachnophobia is 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 highly unusual concept with L’Epée, selecting a high-end L’Epée clock movement and reimagining 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 araneae’s self-sufficiency is to be admired, for the finely-finished, highly-visible movement boasts 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 ‘Arachnophobia’ by L’Epée / MB&F - Image Credit: L’Epée / MB&F

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 for fans of large arachnids: the front legs can be moved forward while the six others maintain the standing position, an interesting and alarming posture...

The ‘Arachnophobia’ by L’Epée / MB&F - Image Credit: L’Epée / MB&F

“Making this clock was an adventure; it is the first time we went so far on a design,” L’Epée CEO Arnaud Nicolas explains. “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.”

The ‘Arachnophobia’ by L’Epée / MB&F - Image Credit: L’Epée / MB&F

“Working with the energetic MB&F team is always a pleasure,” Arnaud Nicolas continues. “Once again we went to a place where no one has gone before, and this is what I like about the MB&F team. Nothing is impossible; they have great ideas and incredible talents.”

the Arachnophobia's stats:

Arachnophobia is available in black and 18k yellow gold-plated editions.
Hours and minutes: curved hands rotate to indicate hours and minutes on a polished, central dome featuring MB&F’s signature numerals.
L’Epée in-house designed and manufactured movement.
Balance frequency: 18,000 bph / 2.5Hz
Power reserve: 8 days
Total components: 218
Jewels: 11
Incabloc shock protection system
Mechanism in palladium-plated brass or gold-plated brass
Winding: key winding and setting on underside of clock
Movement finishing: includes Côtes de Genève, anglage, polishing, sand-blasting, circular and vertical satin finishing
Dimensions: 203 mm in height (legs extended); clock diameter (legs flat) 405 mm; movement dimensions 75.3 x 134.9 x 63.8 mm
Weight: gold-plated version 1.96 kg; black version 0.98 kg
Price: gold plated version CHF 17,500, CHF 15,300 for the black version.

Final thoughts

The ‘Arachnophobia’ by L’Epée / MB&F - Image Credit: L’Epée / MB&F

So I’ll hold my hands up and say I’m not normally the biggest supporter of spiders. They have their place in nature and that’s great, but don’t come into the house. You have your space and I’ll have mine. However, this arachnid is very different and just so happens to be one I would welcome with open arms into the house. This is the sort of piece that you simply set aside any fears and just sit and appreciate how incredible it is. This thing has real presence and shows what can be created when imagination meets craftsmanship and ability. L’Epee and MB&F whether they’re collaborating or doing their own thing, always seem to birth such creative models with a fantastic level of execution. To help keep the (real) spider hate down, I'll take a yellow gold one...

To find out more be sure to head over to the L'Epée website here.