MB & F & L’Epée 1839 Create Balthazar: The Duality of Man and Machine

Baselworld 2016 was the place where Melchior was first shown to the world. This gentle robot was created to show time and entertain those who where around him. The creative mastermind Maximilian Büsser is responsible for the design part of Melchior’s bigger brother Baltazar, L’Epée took the mechanics for account.

Balthazar is a sophisticated and imposing high-precision robot clock displaying jumping hours, retrograde seconds and a 35-day power reserve. Weighing in at over eight kilograms (18 pounds) and standing nearly 40 centimetres tall (16 inches), Balthazar is composed of 618 beautifully finished, micro-engineered components.

But beware . . . there is also a dark side to Balthazar, as there is in all of us.

Rotate his torso 180 degrees and discover a terrifying Balthazar, along with a dual hemisphere moon phase indicator that should help you anticipate the evolutions of your mood. To quote Darth Vader in Star Wars, “If you only knew the power of the dark side.”


Light side: boasting a month-busting 35 days of power reserve, Balthazar’s clockwork displays “slow” jumping hours and trailing minutes via two discs on the chest, while the power reserve indicator is located on his belly. This side of Balthazar may be serene, but he is still always on guard: his red eyes, which continually scan the surroundings, are actually 20-second retrograde displays. 

Moving higher still to Balthazar’s “brain” under the polished glass dome, we find the precision regulator of the clockwork. The animated balance constantly oscillates to let you know that while he may be standing still, Balthazar is always calculating.

Balthazar rotates around the hips like the high-precision machine that he is; you can feel the miniscule bumps of each micro-roller as he turns, and each distinct notch when he rotates the full 180°. Then everything changes: smiling Balthazar becomes very dark, or vice versa.

Dark side: The absolute nature of Balthazar’s darkness is revealed by the cold hard skull with menacing teeth and deep-set ruby-red eyes. But it’s not all threat here as Balthazar’s chest also contains a moon phase display accurate for 122 years. You can adjust the moon phase manually, providing one of many of Balthazar’s tactile pleasures.

Balthazar does more than display horological events: as well as rotating around the hips, his arms articulate at both the shoulders and the elbows, and his hands can clasp and hold objects.

Finally, Balthazar’s shield conceals and protects the secret of his awesome power: an integrated clock-winding and time-setting key.

Technical specifications


“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 “dark side” chest


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

Balthazar’s body and armour

Dimensions: 39.4 cm high x 23.8 cm wide (depending on position of the arms) x 12.4 cm (boot size)
Weight: 8.2 kg
Body/armour components: 213
Movement main plate in palladium-plated polished brass

Dome: polished glass secured via polished and bevelled 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 colour-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 centre of gravity is low around the hips to minimise 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 armour 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
Key is palladium-treated to maximise the longevity of the polished finish


MB & F Timepieces