MB&F joins in the pre-SIHH festivities with something rather unusual. Firstly, let’s just put it out there: It’s not a timepiece. However, it’s still very much a kinetic sculpture and relies on micro-mechanics deeply rooted in watchmaking.

Partnering once again with Reuge, the premier manufacturer of music boxes, what they are presenting is a 1.4kg, rhodium plated brass turtle, which mechanically replicates the natural gait of said creature. But not so much that it actually walks on its four legs, there are wheels underneath the turtle that move it forward.

In order that this movement is not a uniform forward motion, the mechanism uses elliptical gearing to create this sense of irregular — and more natural — movement. But just so your deviant friends don’t let the poor turtle loose on table tops, only to have it dive off the edge, a safety measure has been built in such that when an edge is perceived, the complete system shuts off, thereby preventing an unnecessary heartache.

The MB&F Kelys & Chirp in blue

And then, there’s more. 480 components couldn’t simply have gone towards a walking turtle. So as with most of MB&F’s projects, there is a surprize hidden here as well. Revealed from the central leather scale, out comes a singing, flying automaton bird, which is quite clearly inspired by the one and only, Pierre Jaquet-Droz.

The second creature in question here, is crafted out of 18K white gold. It’s wings flap, its tail moves and finally, it opens its beak in time to the bird song before the turtle’s scale closes and the bird goes back into hiding.

The MB&F Kelys & Chirp in blue with Chirp emerging

Again, a security mechanism is implemented here, just for those handsy friends. In case someone attempts closing the open scale while the automaton bird is in the middle of its song — or worse, forces the bird back into its nest — the creature is smart enough to automatically retreat from its threat.

Therefore, considering the life granted to both animals, forever bound to each other’s existence, MB&F and Reuge have further granted them the dignity of names. The turtle they’ve named Kelys, basically the Greek word for turtle/tortoise; the bird has been named Chirp, for obvious reasons. Together they are Kelys & Chirp.

Technical Specifications: Kelys & Chirp

Animation

  • The tortoise walks, the bird opens from back, moves and sings.
  • For 10-12 seconds, the bird flaps its wings, moves its tail, opens its beak in time to the bird song, then as if magically disappears.
  • The tortoise moves its legs in a realistically intermittent gait, its head moves.
  • Average tortoise speed: 0.03 m/s (0.06 mph).

Materials

  • Generally rhodium plated brass, stainless steel and 18K white gold for the bird.
  • Tortoise scales: handmade leathering with coloured calfskin.

Chirp the singing bird

  • Materials: 18K polished white gold, eyes in sapphire
  • Number of components (bird alone): 30
  • Number of components (bellows): 90
  • Mainspring: twin-cam spring barrel
  • Power reserve: 3 cycles of turtle walking and bird singing
  • Bellows: double bellows system (bi-directional air pushing)
  • Security mechanism: if the bird or cover are pushed down while the bird is singing, the bird automatically retreats

 Kelys the automaton tortoise

  • Material: grained, satin and polish finishing, rhodium-plated brass, eyes in black onyx gems
  • Shell: 12 leather scales with individual polished edges
  • Mechanism for turtle automaton is driven by the Singing Bird movement
  • Number of components: 100, all rhodium or satin finished
  • Gear train: elliptical gearing with max/min 1.3/0.8 ratio enables the turtle to advance with a realistically non-regular gait.
  • Table/desk edge detector: turtle automatically stops when reaching the edge of the surface.
  • Tail switch: world first tail indication; with the turtle’s tail up it rests in place while the bird sings; with the turtle’s tail down it walks and the bird sings.
  • Security friction clutch
  • Circular stainless-steel winding key located on tortoise’s belly.

Dimensions and weight

  • Weight: approx. 1.4 kg
  • Dimensions: 24 cm (length) x 16 cm (width) x 8 cm (high without bird open)

Kelys & Chirp is available in 4 limited editions of 18 pieces each in blue, green, yellow or ochre

More on mbandf.com

Chrip emerging from the back of the MB&F Kelys & Chirp
Chrip emerging from the back of the MB&F Kelys & Chirp
Chrip emerging from the back of the MB&F Kelys & Chirp
Chrip emerging from the back of the MB&F Kelys & Chirp