Meet Balthazar

Count it down now — the Starfleet Machine, Melchior, the Arachnophobia and, most recently, Sherman at SIHH 2016 — that’s four incredible table clocks that MB&F has designed in partnership with L’Epée 1839, Switzerland’s last standing maker of high-end clocks.

And now add to that a fifth clock created by the dynamic duo — meet, Balthazar.

The robot-table clock’s name does seem to stir a rather ominous note in the imagination. Try Googling it. I don’t know about you, but for me the first thing that came up was the link to an NY based french cafe. But I could’ve sworn that I had heard the name used before in the context of a dark entity — a demon no less.

Lo and behold, Google does suggest the name paired with the word ‘demon’ if you become persistent. That’s when it dawned on me — WoW. And I don’t mean that as an exclamation, but the renowned acronym, which stands for World of Warcraft.

For those who have not wasted countless hours of your youth behind the computer screen playing the immensely successful MMORPG, or massively multiplayer online role-playing game entitled World of Warcraft — where the Demon Lord Balthazar was the last of a race of evil creatures bent on destroying the kingdom of Valorn.

The other instance of the name (this time on a more serious note) is most certainly nothing of the underworldly nature, though, it is biblical. Balthazar also happens to be the name of one of the three wise men who came to see baby Jesus in the manger. The others being Gaspar and Melchior.

I’m sure that last name, Melchior has struck a bit of a light in your mind. It happens to be the name of the first robot-table clock that MB&F created with L’Epée 1839. And now there’s Balthazar, another robot-table clock. Begs the question, what importance do the names and the form of the robot have then to MB&F.

Well to Maximilian Büsser, founder of MB&F, the names Balthazar and Melchior represent his family’s lineage. Apparently, since the 1400s, the Büsser family has always named their eldest sons either Balthazar and Melchior. This was a tradition that the family held in tact religiously, that is until Max’s granddad, who was named Melchior and wasn’t much of a fan of the name (or the tradition), defied the 500-year old family custom by naming Max’s dad, Mario.

Max shares, however, that he is a massive fan of both names. Which is perhaps why we see the names used for MB&F’s robot-clock creations, because robots are another one of Max’s loves. If you should ever meet the man, ask him about Mazinger Z — an old Japanese anime, he’ll tell you everything there is to know about it.

In anycase, back to the robot-clock MB&F is unveiling today. Balthazar is a dual-faced robot, meant to reflect the duality of human nature — the good paired with the undeniable darkside. It is therefore that when you encounter the first smiling face of Balthazar and twist its torso you are met with the other character within him, a sinister skull-ed face.

Appropriately, it is the positive side of the robot that displays time and the darkside bears the double hemisphere moon phase indicator that is said to be accurate for up to 122 years.

But there’s yet more animation in Balthazar, such as his eyes, which constantly scan his surroundings with the help of a 20-second retrograde mechanism. Balthazar is also said to be extreme poseable, perhaps more than one can comprehend on sight encounter. This, of course, is the complete effect of the level of craftsmanship that goes into each and every one of MB&Fs creations. For instance, in the case of Balthazar — those teeth that you see on the skull side of the robot? Every tooth there is an individually milled and polished piece that is later assembled to form the robot’s mouth.

While Balthazar is quite a different creature when compared to Melchior, which MB&F is referring as his younger sibling, the two do share some common features — the most noticeable of which is for sure the clock regulator organ, which is visible through the domed sapphire head of the robot.

Now that we’re properly acquainted with the two robot siblings, and the relevance of their names, it’s only natural then to ask, what is Sherman’s name’s significance. But perhaps — and this one’s really a question for Max directly — when oh when will we then meet Gaspar?

Technical Specifications

Balthazar’s body and armor

Dimensions: 39.4 cm high × 23.8 cm wide (depending on position of the arms) × 12.4 cm (boot size)

Weight: 8.2 kg

Body/armor components: 213

Movement main plate in palladium-plated polished brass


Dome: polished glass secured via polished and beveled palladium-plated brass bezel, circular brushed finish around escapement

Skull: nickel-plated bronze with brushed and sandblasted finishes

Teeth: each tooth milled in stainless steel and polished before being mounted into the skull individually

Eyes: 20-second retrograde seconds display in stainless steel painted with red lacquer


Breastplate in three pieces, breast and two CVD color-treated shoulder pads

Hours, minutes, and power reserve indicators on one breastplate, moon phase display on the other.

Protective plate in sapphire crystal.


Rotate on precision ball bearings with spring click to indicate and hold at resting positions

Balthazar’s center of gravity is low around the hips to minimize any risk of being knocked over


Each leg weighs 1.5 kg.

Each femur is in 3 parts to reinforce the look of telescopic-potential and armor plating

Legs, shins, and feet in nickel-plated brass

Shoulders and arms

Articulation: pivot at arms/shoulders, rotation at the elbows, pivot lower arms with spring locking system

Fingers: on each hand, two fingers cross into the other three so that the hands can clasp

Shield: double-depth square-socket key in polished and laser-engraved nickel-plated brass with integrated winding/time-setting key


L’Epée 1839 in-house designed and manufactured movement.

Balance frequency: 18,000 bph / 2.5Hz

Barrels: 5 in series

Power reserve: 35 days

Movement components: 405

Jewels: 62

Incabloc shock protection system

Clockwork in palladium-plated brass and stainless steel

Manual-winding: double-depth square socket key sets time and winds movement ; when not in use the key integrates into a dedicated slot in the shield

Movement finishing includes Geneva waves (moon phase and power reserve bridges), polishing, sandblasting, circular and vertical satin finishing and starburst decoration


‘Slow’ jumping hours and sweeping minutes: twin discs on the chest feature MB&F’s signature numerals and respectively display hours and minutes

20-second retrograde second display in eyes: red ‘pupils’ in each eye scan over 20-second intervals and indicate seconds

35-day power reserve indicator: dial on the belly provides intuitive view of remaining energy

Double hemisphere moon phase indicator: phases of the moon are displayed on a disc on the ‘darkside’ chest

Balthazar comes in limited editions of 50 pieces per colour in black, silver, blue or green armour plates.

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