Moon Rocket, are you receiving me? X-FLR6 meets NASA meets L’Epée 1839 in the new MB&F Destination Moon
Tintin is a legendary character, and was perhaps one of my favourite comic heroes while growing up. Created by Hergé, the works are known for their distinctive storytelling style, humour, attention to detail, and graphics. Tintin and his band of misfits appear in the popular story, Hergé’s (namesake) Destination Moon. The story — part one of two, to be continued in Hergé’s Explorers of the Moon — ends with a rocket flying towards the Moon as the the ground crew tries contacting it, saying: “Moon Rocket, are you receiving me?” This torpedo-shaped rocket in the story was designed by Professor Calculus (from the comics), and was based on an actual missile designed by a German scientist back in 1950s. The prototype rocket was called X-FLR6. And in the new MB&F Destination Moon, we get to revisit this — even if not officially — rocket that’s got a touch of NASA (in essence) and the expertise of L’Epée 1839 backing it up.
Captain Haddock says in the Hergé’s Explorers of the Moon: “If those lunar development experts think this sort of welcome will bring more tourists to the Moon, they’re quite mistaken.”
Quite like his character often was, if we construe his message to be about the new MB&F Destination Moon, he is mistaken. Very mistaken. If anything, this table clock designed by MB&F in partnership with L’Epée 1839 allows every adult to reimagine its childhood and the dream of pursuing the unknown that lay untouched waiting for man to explore.
Yes, the MB&F development experts allow more dreamers to think about the moon, the space, the great beyond. Not only that, they manage to miniaturise this (intangible) feeling and present it in the form of a (very tangible) table clock.
Not A Solo Flight
This is not the first time MB&F and L’Epée 1839 are offering this. The table clock was first introduced in 2017, in limited numbers and in different colours of blue, green, silver or black. Red was not one of them. Red (and white) is what one thinks of the moment the cover photo of Destination Moon comes to mind. Looking at the release, my gut reaction was of putting the two together. In red, the new MB&F Destination Moon looks even more stunning than previous versions.
Following hot on the heels of their other collaboration, the MB&F + L’Epée 1839 Starfleet Explorer, is this new rocket-shaped table clock with myriad nods to space travel. L’Epée 1839 is a Swiss manufacturer specialised in high-end table clocks with intriguing designs and great complications whose collaborations with MB&F have given the world the likes of the Horological Machine No.7 Aquapod, Arachnophobia and Balthazar time devices. This MB&F design of-course doesn’t have precedence in just the partnership with L’Epée 1839. You can see similar design influences in the brand’s other works such as the Astrograph writing instrument — immediately reminiscent of the outline of a space rocket — or the MB&F + Loupe System’s Project LpX that was designed to mimic an intergalactic magnification station enabling accurate viewing of your watch’s movement details.
All the above creations along with the new MB&F Destination Moon prove Maximilian Büsser’s commitment to keep on creating time-telling devices that have the potential to allow our imagination to soar.
Imagination is the Golden Pathway
There is a quote by Terence McKenna, the famous American ethnobotanist, that goes as follows: “The imagination is the golden pathway to everywhere”.
MB&F provide our imagination with a golden pathway, in the form of the new MB&F Destination Moon, that offers an eight-day power reserve clock that looks like an exciting science fiction rocket but offers plentiful empty space allowing for our imaginations to fill in the blanks.
The movement and its casing embody this spirit.
The heart used is a manual winding — by rotating the propulsion wheel at the base of the rocket — L’Epée 1839 in-house designed and manufactured movement featuring a multi-stage vertical architecture that features the low frequency of 2.5Hz (18’000 A/h), comprises of 17 jewels and 164 components, an Incabloc shock protection system protected by mineral glass, and boasts of an impressive 8-day power reserve from a single barrel. The palladium-plated brass, stainless steel and nickel-plated stainless steel movement features multiple finishings including polishing, bead-blasting and satin finishing.
The movement is encased inside a 41cm high × 23.3cm diameter satin-finished stainless steel rocket case structure, with the landing pods in aluminium anodized red for the red edition.
The Flight of Time
It is an hours and minutes display only clock, with the time visible in bold via the large diameter stainless steel discs with stamped numerals. But more than telling the time, the clock also offers the user to experience the spectacular, vertically-structured, open movement that is designed to mimic the design of a real spaceship. Again, this reminds me of Tintin’s X-FLR6. Both the new MB&F Destination Moon and X-FLR6 derived their designs from real rockets.
In the design of the X-FLR6, meticulous research was undertaken to ensure legitimacy of the comic project. From the space costume suits to the way the astronaut would recline inside a spaceship, everything was mimicked. Information from works such as Bernard Heuvelmans’ book L’Homme parmi les Étoiles (Man among the stars) and Alexandre Ananoff’s L’Astronautique (1950) helped Hergé to create his Moon rocket. Hergé was also inspired by the drawings and plans of a German scientist, Wernher von Braun. And like we mentioned earlier in our introduction, Professor Calculus’ X-FLR6 prototype rocket was also based on a rocket designed by this German scientist.
In case of the MB&F Destination Moon, the influences have been achieved by ensuring that the power for the clock comes from the oversized winding crown that’s housed in its base, just like the power in a rocket comes from its base. Next cue is including the vertical regulator below the time display and a time-setting knob at the top of the movement, just like how the management and control systems of a rocket are above the power source. Furthermore, the horizontal circular plates in the movement are perforated like Meccano components. Meccano is a model construction system for kids that consists of reusable parts that allows the children to build working models and mechanical devices. And just like a real rocket is strong, stable, and heavy, the new MB&F Destination Moon is stable enough at a solid four kilograms (nine pounds) weight to ensure that it’s not easily knocked over. Finally, in the vein of keeping things realistic, there is
Tintin, sorry Neil Armstrong, sorry just Neil, a space-suited figurine forged in solid silver and stainless steel, magnetically attached to the ladder connecting the crown to the movement.
Watch Ya Gonna Do About It
Bringing these two worlds created by Hergé and Maximilian Büsser together is the shared aspect of the rocket and the use of the colour red. The red-and-white chequered pattern on the X-FLR6 wasn’t just at the whim and fancy of the comic creator. It was actually based on a technique used to measure movements that was developed by NASA.
I realise that copyright issues and whatnot could have stopped MB&F going this route, but wouldn’t it have been cool if the brand could introduce this red-and-white pattern to the rocket?! Also amazing would be the addition of a small dog in a spacesuit next to the rocket man already included. They don’t even have to mention Tintin but damn, that would be a cool coincidence.
Even though I have said this before, I have to re-iterate it; MB&F watches are anything but normal. Just like the MB&F + L’Epée 1839 Starfleet Explorer, there is a lot to like here. I especially like the use of the little magnetic astronaut Neil, and the colour segue of red. I also like the shape of the rocket and its design cues reminiscent of the world of Tintin. Last but not the least I appreciate their timing, given this release comes very close to SpaceX’s first single astronaut launch flight to NASA. Non-conformist like most of their work, it is also a delightful gesture in bringing to life every man’s boyhood dream that’s also seeped in childhood play due to the use of Meccano construction system.
Muhammad Ali once said: “The man who has no imagination has no wings.” Giving wings to our imagination of going to the moon and beyond is the new MB&F Destination Moon. Available here only in limited pieces of 50, its time for you to grab your ticket to the moon.