L’ÉPÉE 1839 × MB&F


Weighing in at over 8 kilograms and standing 40 centimetres tall, Balthazar is a sophisticated and imposing high-precision robot clock composed of 618 beautifully finished, micro-engineered components. But beware… Balthazar hides two sides, as there are in all of us.

Light side: boasting 35 days of power reserve, Balthazar's clockwork displays "slow" jumping hours and sweeping minutes via two discs on the chest, while the power reserve is indicated on his belly. His red eyes, which continually scan the surroundings, are actually 20-second retrograde displays.

Dark side: rotate his torso 180 degrees and the absolute nature of Balthazar's darkness is revealed by the cold, hard skull with menacing teeth and deep-set ruby-red eyes. Balthazar's chest also contains a dual hemisphere moon phase.

more pictures in press section

the machine


  • "Slow" jumping hours and sweeping minutes
  • 20-second retrograde second displays in eyes
  • 35-day power reserve indicator
  • Double hemisphere moon phase indicator


  • L’Epée 1839 movement, designed and manufactured in-house
  • Incabloc shock protection system
  • Power reserve: 35 days
  • Balance frequency: 18,000 bph / 2.5Hz
  • 405 components and 62 jewels
  • Manual-winding: a double-depth square socket key sets time and winds movement


  • Movement main plate in palladium-plated polished brass

Dimensions and weight

  • 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


  • 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

Shoulders / Arms

  • Pivot at arms/shoulders, rotation at the elbows, pivot lower arms with spring locking system. On each hand, two fingers cross into the other three so that the hands can clasp.
download manual
Dark / Light

Dark / Light

Balthazar rotates around his hips on precision ball bearings. The smiling Balthazar becomes very dark, and vice versa…

Dual hemisphere moon phase

Dual hemisphere moon phase

In addition to showing the hours, minutes and power reserve, Balthazar also features a dual hemisphere moon phase indicator – located on his dark side’s chest.

Hidden winding / time setting key

Hidden winding / time setting key

The key allows you to both set the time and wind the movement; when not in use it slips into a dedicated slot in the shield.


inspiration Maximilian Büsser and Arnaud Nicolas CEO of L’Épée 1839

Fictional robots often possess monikers sounding like acronyms or reference numbers – think of HAL 9000, C-3PO or Dr. Who’s K-9 – but, interestingly, Maximilian Büsser christened this 21st-century robot with the old world name ‘Balthazar’.

Balthazar – along with Melchior and Caspar – was one of the names of the three wise men, or magi, from biblical lore. But this robot clock was named Balthazar for another reason. Maximilian Büsser explains: “In the Büsser family, for over five centuries from the 1400s onwards, every eldest Büsser son was either called Melchior or Balthazar. It alternated. My grandfather was called Melchior and hated it, so he had everybody call him Max, which is how I became a Max. My grandfather hated the Melchior-Balthazar thing so much that he put an end to this 500-year-old tradition by calling my father Mario… Now, a century later, I happen to love the names Melchior and Balthazar!”

L’Epée 1839

Epée 1839

Dedicated to making high-end clocks, L'Epée has been a prominent Swiss Manufacture for over 180 years. Founded in 1839 by Auguste L’Epée in France’s Besançon region, the company originally focused on producing music boxes and watch components. The brand was synonymous at the time with entirely hand-made pieces.

From 1850 onwards, the Manufacture became a leading light in the production of ‘platform’ escapements, creating regulators especially for alarm and table clocks, as well as musical watches. It became a well-known specialist owning a large number of patents on exceptional escapements and the chief supplier of escapements to several celebrated watchmakers of the day. L'Epée has won a number of gold medal awards at international exhibitions.

L'Epée 1839 is now based in Delémont in the Swiss Jura Mountains. Under the impetus of its CEO Arnaud Nicolas, it has developed an exceptional table clock collection, encompassing a full range of sophisticated clocks.