MB&F is nothing if not iconoclastic in its approach to everything from . . . well, to everything, and this time they've come up with a clock that is guaranteed to not be bought by a sizeable fraction of the general population (that's right, adjusted for where you live, 3.1 to 6.5 percent of the general population suffers from flat out arachnophobia – irrational fear of spiders – and while a lot of the rest of us don't, we still prefer as a rule to keep our distance). It's the Arachnophobia, which is – well, there's no way to sugarcoat it, this is a clock in the shape of a giant spider. A giant spider with long, spiky legs. A clock, we repeat, in the shape of a monstrous arachnid that bears more than a little resemblance to the final form of the Other Mother in Coraline. (Seriously, though, don't click on the link if you don't like monstrous demonic soul-eaters in the shape of spiders. Did you click on the link? Now see, that's why we told you to not click on the link.?)
This is the latest clock that MB&F has created in partnership with L'Epée 1839, with whom MB&F has partnered on other projects. For instance, there is the Starfleet Machine, which we covered when it launched at BaselWorld in 2014. The design of the Arachnophobia was inspired, says MB&F, by a sculpture by the late artist Louise Bourgeois, called Maman (French for "mother" . . . we're starting to feel like there's a little subtext here). Don't get us wrong, we've read Charlotte's Web and cried at the end just like any normal person; we dig that spiders serve the community by keeping other creepy crawlies in check (well, maybe not this guy who's just too freakin' big) but man, Charlotte never looked like this.
Maman is a big girl – the actual scuplture is huge, at 30 feet high and around 33 feet wide but hey, who's counting when you're looking at a three story tall spider, for crying out loud. Anyhow, the Arachnophobia clocks are of course quite a bit smaller but at 405 mm in diameter, it's still plenty big enough to work as nightmare fuel.
Now, that said, the darned thing is beautifully made. The movement bears an obvious resemblance to that used in the Starfleet Machine, but it's been redesigned and the layout changed somewhat to give the visual impression of a spider's body. The eight-day movement is arranged in a linear fashion, with the balance at the head end, and the mainspring barrel at the other; the body of the spider is formed by the main going train, motion works, and dome-shaped dial. The legs are injection molded metal and they come, we read, rather rough from the mold; there is a considerable amount of hand-finishing that goes into each of them (we wouldn't touch one with a ten-foot pole but hey, we're glad somebody did).
This, from MB&F:
“When the legs come out of the injection mould, they are really rough and need a lot of attention to be as nicely finished as they are in the end,” says L’Epée CEO Arnaud Nicolas. “All of the finishing is accomplished by the hands of master finishers, who grind, satin-finish, polish, and then plate or lacquer the legs depending on the version.”
Finishing techniques used on the clock’s “body” and legs include anglage, mirror polishing, satin finishing, circular satin finishing, sand-blasting, and polishing. “The most important thing was to play with light on each one of the spider’s parts,” Arnaud Nicolas continues. “Some of the parts were sandblasted to continue the light play.”
You can display the clock as a table clock, but thanks to a clever mounting system you can also display it as a wall clock, because who doesn't want a pretty realistic-looking 40.5 centimeter spider on their wall? You know, something to catch your eye when you're just trying to get through the living room to the kitchen for midnight milk-and-cookies.
The legs are attached to the body by ball-and-socket joints and the front legs can be raised in an attitude of menace. We'd probably pose it this way for maximum effect – in for a dime, in for a dollar, that's how we like our fear-mongering at HODINKEE. And the movement gets the full haute horlogerie finishing treatment too.
But, you know, here's how MB&F describes winding and setting the clock:
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.
Real comedians, these guys. The clock is available in black, or yellow gold finishes, and Swiss retail prices are CHF 15,300 for the black version, CHF 17,500 for the gold-plated version. Swing on by MB&F and get more info, and then check out our recent hands-on with HMX.