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The Five Most Beautiful Machines of 2011

Design Inspiration - December 27th, 2011

2011 is coming to a close and it’s been another spectacular year if you’re anything like me and appreciate art and mechanics combined into beautiful objects. I’ve compiled my own little shortlist of the most awe-inspiring machines that’s been presented in their final production form over the year, there’s many more that could have made the list (and a few of them are presented below) but in my mind these are the ones that really stood out in 2011.

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De Bethune DB28

Design Inspiration - November 22nd, 2011

The annual Grand Prix d’Horologerie de Genève took place over the weekend and one of my absolute favourite watches took the top honors, the De Bethune DB28. The Aiguille d’Or or Grand Prix is the supreme award given to the best timepiece of the year by a jury of watchmaking professionals. De Bethune was fonuded in 2002 and is independent manufacture with a thing for original movements that pushes the envelope technologically and design-wise, they also have a contemporary aestethic unlike anything else out there.

De Bethune DB28

De Bethune DB28 in titanium. Photo by De Bethune.

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The Art of Kinetik Hedonist

Design Inspiration - October 11th, 2011

Hedonist by Art of Kinetik

Hedonist by Art of Kinetik. Photo by Art of Kinetik.

With yachts the designers have a very special attribute that perhaps no other form of mechanical art has, and that is sheer scale. An item of this size is not bound to just have architectural lines, it can truly have an architectural impact. Wally is one example of a manufacturer that makes yachts like this but one builder that have flown under my radar until just recently is Art of Kinetik, based in Belgrad, Serbia who have been operational since 2007. Their quest is to create the ultimate balance of art and performance and by the looks of their vessels they are quite a good way towards achieving that goal.

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Jaeger-LeCoultre Gyrotourbillon II

Design Inspiration - August 18th, 2010

The Jaeger-LeCoultre Gyrotourbillon II from the front.

The Jaeger-LeCoultre Gyrotourbillon II. Photo by Claude Joray.

I’m fascinated by tourbillons, the tiny, tiny mechanical marvel invented around 1795 by Abraham-Louis Breguet to increase the accuracy of pocket watches. It’s still one of the most complex and difficult horological complications to master and only a handful of manufacturers can make them. The basic idea is to offset the effect of gravity on the watch by rotating the scapement and balance wheel (often one turn per minut). While I’m mesmerized by normal tourbillons I’m totally hypnotized by Jaeger-LeCoultres Gyrotourbillon II. In this complication there are two tourbillons, one inside the other rotating on a perpendicular axis at a speed of one turn per 18.75 seconds while the outer rotates at the normal speed of one turn per minute. The result is a spectacular mechanical animation that not only takes the tourbillon into the 21st century but also is the base for one of the most accurate mechanical movements ever made.

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Pagani Zonda F

Design Inspiration - July 28th, 2010

Zonda F

The Pagani Zonda F. Photo by Pagani.

The Pagani Zonda C12S was the car that redefined the slumbering supercar market in the beginning of the 2000′s. The first Zonda (the C12) was introduced in 1999 but it was really the 2000 C12S that changed the game and the F that through some small visual alterations tied together the entire package. Pagani was the first in the new era of boutique super car makers and was considered the new benchmark from day one. The Zonda had a couple of unique selling points, it was way faster than anything else on sale and the styling was out of this world. The small fact that the quality and craftmanship was also up to par didn’t hurt either.

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Cabestan Winch Vertical Tourbillon

Design Inspiration - July 13th, 2010

Cabestan Winch Vertical Tourbillon

The Cabestan Winch Vertical Tourbillon in white gold, photo by Cabestan.

I have a very weak spot for beautiful machines (guess why I bought the Elektra coffee machine?) and one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen is the Winch Vertical Tourbillon from Cabestan. It’s a timepiece like no other combining technical novelty, mechanical art and impeccable finish and execution.

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Confederate Motors B120 Wraith

Design Inspiration - July 9th, 2010

Wraith sideview

The Confederate B120 Wraith in side view. Photo by Confederate Motors.

Confederate Motors (along with founder Matt Chambers) and I live on the same planet. Their first motorcycle, the F131 Hellcat, was conventional but better looking than any production bike I’ve seen. With the B120 Wraith they took the step to the level of Cabestan, Zonda and a few others capable of creating a truly unique, exciting and beautiful mechanical sculptures.

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Max Büsser & Friends HM4 Thunderbolt

Design Inspiration - July 7th, 2010

HM4 Face

The dial and power reserve indicator for the HM4. Photo by Max Büsser & Friends.

I’ve been dying for Max Büsser and his friends to create a timepiece that actually seems wearable. I love the steampunk aestethics and concept of all the Horological Machines, but the superwide aspect ratio of the two first machines looked strange on wrists the HM3 Sidewinder and Starcruiser just felt strange (until the Frog, but more on that later).

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Maîtres du Temps Video of their Chapter 2

Design Inspiration - May 9th, 2009

There’s a very nice little film about the creation of Maîtres du Temps latest watch, the Chapter 2, at Vimeo.

The style of the film reminds me of The Mysterious Explorations of Jasper Morello, even down to Peter Speak Marins narration. If you haven’t seen Jasper Morellos Explorations, do it. It’s a fabulous little steampunk short animated in a very peculiar, dark style.

Chapter Two by Maîtres du Temps from Ian Skellern on Vimeo.

References

Maitres du Temps Chapter 2 at Vimeo.
The Mysterious Explorations of Jasper Morello at Youtube
Maitres du Temps

Geneva Auto Salon 2009

Design Inspiration - March 18th, 2009

This years Geneva Auto Salon didn’t see much of the downturn the global car industry has seen. Several manfacturers presented and showed new high-profile concept cars and other took the opportunity to present new production models.

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