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These 3 Whimsical Clock Designs Turn Timepieces Into Works of Art

With three master horological artisans pushing the form in bold new directions, it’s time to reconsider your clock.

MB&F 1839 Orb MB&F

Cartier, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Patek Philippe have long crafted clocks to adorn the tables, walls and desks of the world’s toniest addresses. But unlike the throwback vibes of those big-name counterparts, the creations coming out of the workshops of Clockwright, Miki Eleta and L’Épée are objets with personality—think monsters, space-age apparatuses and giant wooden structures that could pass for sculpture.

Clockwright

Clockwright KL1

The Clockwright KL1.  Courtesy of Clockwright

The brainchild of Rick Hale, a forklift driver turned self-taught clockmaker based in Kalamazoo, Mich., Clockwright is known for its conceptual wooden wall clocks with swinging pendulums. But while at first they may appear to be a wild new take on Germany’s famous cuckoo clocks, these handmade, one-of-a-kind pieces are inspired by Hale’s heroes: Enlightenment-era clock and watchmaking masters such as John Harrison, Thomas Tompion and Abraham-Louis Breguet. Wind & Water, which took 1,600 hours to create, is crafted from hand-carved solid-figured cherry, lignum vitae and quilted maple wood, with an escapement inspired by Harrison’s work. Hale is currently at work on a table clock called L1 with a lunar-phase complication, as well as several custom pieces, including a hardwood re-creation of Clock B, Martin Burgess’s tribute to Harrison’s unfinished final design. Price upon request

Miki Eleta

Miki Eleta Timepiece

A Miki Eleta BY 12DezME timepiece.  Courtesy of Miki Eleta

Another self-taught innovator, Miki Eleta worked as a musician and a soccer coach before taking an interest in kinetic clockworks. The Swiss-based maker’s one-of-a-kind, handmade pieces have the outward appeal and complicated movement of old-world clocks but with whimsical sci-fi touches: tiny Martians, minute-munching monsters. His BY 21Dez12ME piece incorporates open clockworks inside a “spaceship” base, from which tiny glass-blown aliens emerge to investigate their new surroundings. “For me, constructing a clock is a playful and fascinating experiment,” Eleta says. “In order to give the as-yet-undiscovered element a chance to come to life, I try to surprise myself without worrying about failure.” Price upon request

MB&F x L’Épée 1839

MB&F 1839 Orb

The MB&F x L’Épée 1839 Orb.  MB&F

L’Épée has been producing parts for clocks for the past 183 years and has been manufacturing and designing its own pieces since the mid-1970s; they were gifted to important guests attending Prince Charles and Lady Diana’s 1981 wedding. But the Swiss company’s collaborations with avant-garde Geneva watchmaker MB&F, which began nearly a decade ago, have pushed the boundaries of its craft while giving the company new visibility in the show-and-tell Instagram era. Together the two brands have created table clocks in the guise of tanks, jellyfish, spiders and spaceships. The latest, Orb, is shaped like an eyeball, with the multilayered dial evoking a pupil and iris surrounded by four curved blades that open and swivel for a variety of attention-seeking display options. Limited to 50 pieces each in black and in white, $32,000

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