The horological lab division of MB&F has come up with some beautiful, intricate, and unendingly quirky creations so far. For example, the MB&F Octopod Table Clock, which lets you live out all your fantasies of owning an octopus. An octopus that is a clock. In that same line, their latest creation, Kelys & Chirp, is just as quirky and innovative.
A Joyous Celebration Of Friends And Friendship
Kelys and Chirp are two rather unlikely companions. After all, it’s not often that you see a turtle and a bird hanging out together in real life. In this beautiful automaton by MB&F however, they’re a duo made in heaven.
Kelys, whose name comes from the Greek word chelone or chelys for turtle, is, as you might have guessed, a turtle. He moves in a realistic, tortoise-like gait. As he walks, his head moves slowly from side-to-side, and his movements are all in synchronicity with Chirp. His push/pull gait is very natural, and works thanks to some rather unconventional gearing and cams.
Kelys’ slow, steady gait is perfectly complemented by Chirp’s energy and vivacity. She springs from her nest to pirouette and sing her melody. Together with Kelys, Chirp becomes a roving musical performance.
Turtles have long represented wisdom in many cultures because of their long life spans, some of which can go up to 190 years, Kelys is certainly deliberate in his movements, and it’s backed up by some intelligent engineering. He has an integrated mechanical sensor that ensures he doesn’t walk off table or desk tops.
Walking, Singing Automaton
Chirp’s birdsong sounds amazing, both due to the accuracy of the song, and for the fact that such a relatively loud sound emits from such a small object. This is thanks to a 230-year-old invention. This invention is generally credited to Pierre Jaquet-Droz (1721-1790), who came up with the idea of the modern Singing Bird complication.
By 1785, Droz had both miniaturised the mechanically-controlled bird, and developed a compact movement. His secret was in recreating a realistic birdsong using just one bellow of variable pitch rather than multiple single-pitch bellows.
You can enjoy a concert by Chirp without Kelys moving by pushing Kelys’ tail up. With his tail down, he will walk while Chirps sings, letting you enjoy a moving song, in both senses of the word.
A Complex Mechanism In Miniature Form
While Kelys & Chirp may look relatively simple compared to a complicated watch, its 480 components lie testament to the complexity within. The Singing Bird mechanism is already a complete movement on its own. When developed in tandem with the movement of the turtle automaton, it becomes an entirely new challenge.
One of the bigger challenges was in moving the relatively heavy (1.4kg) turtle with the little power available. After all, all the power comes from the small mainspring of the Singing Bird movement.]
The aforementioned mechanism that prevents Kelys from falling off is a friction clutch security system. It detects surface edges and immediately stops the turtle moving forward over the abyss. They also introduced a Reuge security system for the bird movement. If Chirp or her cover are accidentally pushed down while she is singing, she stops and instantly retreats to her nest.
Chirp is also made of 18K white gold with sapphire eyes, while the scales on Kelys are handmade leathering with coloured calfskin.
Kelys & Chirp is available in 4 limited editions of 18 pieces each in blue, green, yellow, or ochre.