Forecasting sunny weather ahead with a chance of (alien) visitors
The Fifth Element, by MB&F + L’Epée 1839 is an intergalactic horological weather station enabling accurate weather forecasting even when the power goes down. Four (UFO) elements: clock, barometer, hygrometer, and thermometer combine in a mothership (with Ross, the alien pilot) to create an entity much larger than the sum of its parts: The Fifth Element.
An analogue weather station might at first glance appear anachronistic; however, when the storm hits and the power goes down, the Fifth Element will still work perfectly. And, in the worst-case scenario, you can hitch a ride off planet Earth with Ross.
MB&F founder Maximilian Büsser had long looked for a beautiful vintage desktop weather station for himself, but could never find exactly what he was after; so with then intern-designer Stefano Panterotto he set about developing his own. The Fifth Element is a confluence of fantasies from classic UFO films, books, and comics of the 1950-60s with the desktop weather stations that were popular before weather forecasts were available on our phones.
The team researched weather stations across the last 100 years as well as the concepts of transparency, biomorphism, and both “inclusion” and “swarm” in animal/insect worlds.
While the Fifth Element was to be larger than its individual elements, each element had to be a strong standalone feature in itself: the team identified and came to understand each element, their stories, and how to feature them in a highly original way without concealing mechanical features.
After defining the four elements, the next step was the design of the Fifth Element, the hub in which the pods are housed. The challenge was to create an archetypical UFO of the 1950-60s, but without concealing any of the four elements.
Different structures and shapes were tried and tested, including a vertical configuration, before the final form was validated. Even then the process wasn’t finished as the first prototype looked a little too old-fashioned for MB&F, so it was tweaked yet again.
Once the design stage had been validated, the responsibility for making the Fifth Element a reality fell to L’Epée 1839, the only manufacture of high-end clocks in Switzerland.
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Four removable and interchangeable instrument Elements make up the Fifth Element:
Because weather forecasting is based on the speed of changes over time, the accurate time is required for meteorological observations. For the Fifth Element, L’Epée 1839 reengineered and skeletonised their 8-day clock movement to maximize transparency and visual access.
The barometer, which measures air pressure, is the mainstay of weather forecasting: as a general rule, increasing air pressure foretells good clear weather, decreasing air pressure portends inclement weather. The faster the change, the more extreme the coming weather.
The hygrometer measures the percentage of water vapour in the air; it displays this as a percentage of the maximum amount of moisture that might be held at a given temperature.
Thermometers don’t simply measure temperature, but the average kinetic energy of a substance: the higher the temperature, the higher the energy. A thermometer is essentially a power reserve indication of the energy in the atmosphere around us.
Over 500 individual components form the mother ship and its interchangeable Elements; more than many Grand Complications!
And there’s one more function that L'Epée 1839 and MB&F surreptitiously integrate into all of their creations the ability to make you smile. For the Fifth Element, that role goes to Ross: thanks to his own manually-wound, air-regulated movement, the alien pilot rotates around the UFO’s cockpit checking that the skies are clear of both clouds and hostile invaders.
Stand alone elements
Ross the Alien pilot
Stand alone elements 2
EXCLUSIVE LIMITED EDITION
The Fifth Element is available in 3 limited editions of 18 pieces each in Silver, Black, and Blue.
DESIGN & DISPLAY
Clock (hours and minutes), barometer (air pressure), thermometer (air temperature), hygrometer (air humidity)
DIMENSIONS & WEIGHT
376 mm in diameter x 209 mm in height
Total weight: 15 kg
L’Epée in-house designed and manufactured, vertical architecture eight-day movement
Balance frequency: 2.5 Hz (18,000 bph)
Incabloc shock protection system
Power reserve: 8 days from single barrel in base
MATERIALS & FINISHING
Made of stainless steel, brass and bronze
Polishing, bead-blasting and satin-finishing
The four elements – clock, barometer, hygrometer, and thermometer – are not only detachable and interchangeable; thanks to integrated support they can also stand, returning to the mothership when required
Barometer (air pressure)
Atmospheric pressure: 960 / 1060 hPa (28.4 / 31.6 in Hg)
Thermometer (air temperature)
Temperature: -30° / +70° Celsius
(-20° / +156°Fahrenheit)
Hygrometer (air humidity)
Hygrometer: 0 - 100% humidity
Thanks to his own manually-wound mechanism, air-regulated movement, the alien pilot rotates around the UFO’s cockpit
Nickel - Limited edition of 18 pieces
AVAILABLE Add to cart
54'600 CHF / excl. VAT
Black - Limited edition of 18 pieces
AVAILABLE Add to cart
54'600 CHF / excl. VAT
Blue - Limited edition of 18 pieces