John-Mikaël Flaux Debuts Rearing Horse Automaton Clock

Mechanical objet d'art.

A clock and automaton maker whose timekeepers have taken the form of a running leopard and race car, John-Mikaël Flaux has just unveiled his most complex creation to date. Hand made from brass and steel, Le Cabré is a mechanical sculpture of a rearing Arabian horse with a key-wound clock in its base that doubles as a “mysterious trigger” for the automaton.

Initial thoughts

Le Cabré is very much mechanical objet d’art – handmade and hand finished, while being complex and extravagant. Automaton-clocks like this have long been part of independent watchmaking, but are typically little appreciated, largely due to their cost (and the necessity of having an office or house grand enough to install one of them).

But the craft that goes into creating one is easily understood. Le Cabré is made up of 450 parts, three-quarters hand made by the clockmaker himself, a process that requires 1,500 hours of work according to Mr Flaux.

Priced at a little over US$160,000, Le Cabré is substantially more expensive than Mr Flaux’s prior creations, but it is also substantially more complex. At the same time, considerably more lavish automaton clocks that are made of precious metal and decked out in precious stones traditionally have price tags in the millions, making this relatively affordable.

Equine ballet

Standing 24 cm, or a bit under 10″, Le Cabré is made up of a horse automaton protected by a glass case, sitting on a wood base. It was conceived by Mr Flaux in collaboration with Ben & Bros, a retailer of timepieces and objets d’art based in the Swiss town of La Chaux-de-Fonds.

Telling the time and activating the automaton are one and the same. The clock in the base is ordinarily facing inwards. In order to tell the time, the clock face has to be swivelled 180 degrees to face outwards – the clock turns on a vertical axis within the base – allowing the time to be read.

This swivelling action is the “mysterious trigger” for the automaton, which then performs its dance over 30 seconds. According to Mr Flaux, he consulted several professional equestrians to perfect the motion of the rearing horse.

Within the base is the mechanism for the automaton, which has its own mainspring that can power the automaton for 30 activations, which is wound by a key that goes into a socket at the rear of the base.

And time is kept by a vintage pocket watch movement with an eight-day power reserve that’s wound via the small crown just above the clock face.

Nature in motion

Le Cabré is made entirely of traditional materials, mostly steel and brass, while the base is clad in smoked eucalyptus wood. Mr Flaux produces and finishes the metal components by hand – cutting, filing, and chamfering the old-fashioned way.

The parts of Le Cabré are like those in a high-end clock. The horse, for instance, is composed of brass parts secured by steel screws and pins. All of the brass components are straight grained with chamfered edges, while the screw heads are polished. And the head of the horse is polished, solid silver.

The automaton is delivered in a trunk that’s constructed the traditional way: a wood frame covered in leather that’s held together by hand-applied brass rivets, while the interior is lined with Alcantara.

Le Cabré is made to order, with a variety of materials and finishes available. The clock in the base can also be customised according to the client’s specifications.

All photos courtesy of ManVsWatch

Key facts and price

John-Mikaël Le Cabré

Dimensions: Base 22.4 cm by 12.4 cm, 24 cm tall
Weight: 2.5 kg
Materials: Stainless steel and brass, eucalyptus wood base

Functions: Hours and minutes, with rearing horse automaton
Winding: Key-wound
Power reserve: Eight days for the time, 15 minutes for the automaton

Limited edition: Made to order
Availability: Direct from Ben & Bros
Price: Starting from CHF150,000 before taxes

For more, visit


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Tudor Unveils the Black Bay Fifty-Eight Bronze

Bronze from end to end.

Tudor debuted a teaser about its upcoming launch last week – showing the forging of a case component –  and now it has taken the covers off its very first boutique-only model, the Black Bay Fifty-Eight Bronze. The new boutique edition combines the compact size of the Fifty-Eight with the alloy found on its prior bronze dive watches.

The new model sports a bronze “rivet” bracelet, which is a first for Tudor. And unlike earlier Black Bay Fifty-Eight models, the new version sports an all-new, micro-extension clasp known as T-Fit that brings the wearability of the Fifty–Eight to another level.

The new Fifty-Eight is delivered on a bronze bracelet along with an additional fabric strap

Initial thoughts

Despite boasting several “firsts” for Tudor  – as well as being a good-looking watch – the Black Bay Fifty-Eight Bronze sticks to a familiar formula. It has a brown bezel and dial found on the first-generation Black Bay Bronze, as well as Arabic numerals at the quarters that are a hallmark of the Tudor’s bronze watches.

But the minor change in case size is significant, a result of the gulf in perception between the 39 mm and 41 mm Black Bay cases. The two millimetres that separate the two sizes are markedly obvious in the metal.

The compact format of the new Black Bay in bronze means it’ll wear better, much like the standard Fifty-Eight. And it’ll also have a more retro feel since its case size is close to that of vintage dive watches, which will complement the warm colour palette that calls to mind a “tropical” dial.

The 39 mm Black Bay Fifty-Eight Bronze (left), and the 43 mm Black Bay Bronze

Though the bronze bracelet is a first for Tudor, what’s truly new is the clasp; the no-frills clasp that’s long been standard for the Black Bay has been upgraded substantially. Though the Pelagos deep-sea diver’s watch had a spring-loaded extension clasp since its inception, the Black Bay has not, until now. The new clasp allows for on-the-fly extension of up to 8 mm in five increments, which will boost comfort on the wrist significantly.

On a different note, the fact that the first all-bronze Tudor will only be sold at boutiques demonstrates another prong of its strategy in boosting its brand equity. Tudor has steadily growing its numbers of boutiques – all operated by its retail partners instead of the brand itself – creating a more immersive experience, while boosting its presence in high-traffic shopping areas.

Last but not least is the price of the new bronze diver, which in typical Tudor fashion is entirely reasonable at US$4,525. That translates to a premium of around 20% over the steel version of the Fifty-Eight, but still leaves the bronze model good value considering the material and clasp.

Bronze details

A few features of the Black Bay Fifty-Eight Bronze set it apart from its counterpart in steel. Most obvious are the hour markers, which instead of stick indices are now Arabic numerals at the quarters.

Standard on all of Tudor’s bronze watches, the Arabic numerals gives the dial a livelier appearance – and pay homage to the vintage Rolex Submariner ref. 6200 from the 1950s.

More notably is the fact that this is the first Tudor watch in a coloured metal that has a matching bracelet. In contrast, the Black Bay Fifty-Eight 18k launched earlier this year is only available on a strap.

The continuity in colour and texture from the case to bracelet – in addition to the greater presence of a metal bracelet – is more fitting for a vintage-inspired dive watch. Perhaps the bronze bracelet is a prelude to a gold bracelet for the Black Bay Fifty-Eight 18k.

Forging a red-hot bronze bar into a case blank

The case blank is then machined, forming it into its final dimensions

And the bracelet is equipped with a clasp that’s all new, inside and out. It has a raised middle section on the outside, eliminating the cut-out just below the safety lock in the shape of the brand’s shield logo.

But the space within the clasp is smartly utilised to house the T-Fit rapid adjustment mechanism, which resembles a simplified version of the Rolex Glidelock extension clasp. The T-fit clasp can be adjusted up to 8 mm each way, in five steps in each direction.

Key facts and price

Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Bronze
Ref. M79012M-0001

Diameter: 39 mm
Height: 11.9 mm
Material: Bronze
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 200 m

Movement: Cal. MT5400
Functions: Hours, minutes, and seconds
: Automatic
Frequency: 28,800 vibrations per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 70 hours

Strap: Bronze bracelet, and additional fabric strap

Availability: Now at selected Tudor boutiques
Price: US$4,525; or 6,240 Singapore dollars

For more, visit


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