MB&F throws two unlikely friends together – Keyls & Chirp – to create an inspiring musical timekeeper.
If marriages are made in heaven, friendships are definitely created in paradise. In marriages, opposites attract, but in friendship, opposites can have a fun riot, shopping sprees, slumber parties and, yes, a song-n-dance, too! Meet Kelys and Chirp, the tortoise and the bird who live together as unlikely yet totally adorable friends. Kelys and Chirp is a watch by Maximilian Büsser & Friends.
Kelys and Chirp are created by two friends. Reuge, the premier manufacturer of music boxes, and Nicolas Court, master of automaton, got together to create a watch that moves with precision and also works as a musical instrument. As Kelys the tortoise walks with its slow and steady gait, Chirp the bird springs from her nest and pirouets, her beak opening and closing, wings flapping, and tail wagging – all in time to the melodic bird song.
Kelys comes from the Greek word for tortoise – chelone or chelys. With pull/push gait mechanism, the makers have been able to replicate a tortoise’s walk in their creation, using unconventional gearing and cams. Its tail functions as a lever. If you push the tail up, Kelys stop moving while Chirp will continue singing. With his tail down, Kelys walks while Chirp sings. Kelys has an integrated mechanical sensor, which ensures that he doesn’t walk off the table or desk tops.
In love with musicals
Chirp’s song is the result of astounding work of engineering. The accuracy of the song, its loudness and clarity impresses the onlooker as it is coming from such a small object.
A 230-year old invention, credited to Pierre Jaquet-Droz (1721– 1790), has helped Chirp in being the perfect singer. The idea of the modern Singing Bird complication belonged to Droz. 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.
The simple looking device is actually made up of 480 components. The complexity of the watch is evident from the Singing Bird complication, which is a complete movement in itself.
The challenges faced by the creative team included developing the turtle automaton mechanism. The turtle, which weighs 1.4 kgs, had to move in a realistic manner with the little power available from the small mainspring of the Singing Bird movement.
MB&F brought together the synergies of Reuge, who had developed MB&F’s Music Machines, and automaton specialist Nicolas Court, to create this out-of-the-box watch. The turtle’s movements are synchronised with the bird’s movements and singing. A friction clutch security system integrated into the automaton mechanism detects surface edges. It then immediately stops the turtle moving forward over the abyss. In case the bird is pushed down while singing, a lever system safely pivots the bird and it returns to nest. The words tortoise and turtle are used synonymously here.
The turtle is made of rhodium plated brass with black onyx gems for eyes. It is equipped with table/desk detector, tail switch, security friction clutch and a circular winding key at its tummy. Perhaps the most arresting part of the turtle is the shell design on its back. Each scale is individually handmade from high quality calfskin leather in four different colours, creating a warmer and more natural feel than bare metal. The colours include blue, green, yellow and ochre.
Chirp on the other hand is made of 18k polished white gold with sapphire eyes. The animated movements of the turtle include walking and moving its head, while 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. It then settles back into its nest. The average speed of the tortoise is 0.06 mph while its dimensions are 24cm x 16cm.
Kelys and Chirp is a rare achievement in musical mechanism and automaton. In Court’s words, it’s a mechanical object at the service of dreams.