Clocks don’t get nearly the attention today that wristwatches do. I get it: they take up a great deal of space and you can’t wear them.
Nonetheless, there are clocks in this world that deserve to be talked about, written about, purchased, and enjoyed. Also, this goes double for any of the unique timepieces by independent horologist Miki Eleta .
Eleta, a self-encouraged clockmaker brought into the world in Višegrad, Bosnia and Herzegovina, has lived in Switzerland since 1973 and been a member of the AHCI since 2008, showcasing his incredible kinetic sculptures alongside thirty-odd other independent craftsmans of changing nationality.
I had the pleasure of seeing Eleta’s latest masterpiece, Natuhrzeit, at Baselworld 2019 and have not been able to get it crazy since.
“Natuhrzeit”: clever word play
I love Eleta’s dry sense of humor when it comes to the two his work and naming his creations. Eleta’s BY21Dez12ME clock of 2016 had a clever name – however less decipherable from the start than his latest clock, Natuhrzeit, the sense of which is likely to be understood better for German speakers.
Natuhrzeit is a compound German word that you won’t discover in any dictionary. Natur (“nature”) and the non-existent Natuhr, which includes the German word for clock or watch, uhr, sound very comparative in pronunciation. Zeit is the German word for “time,” and the compound word Uhrzeit refers to the time as demonstrated on a clock or watch (as opposed to the general calendar day or the abstract meaning of time). Yes, German can be complicated.
So the full meaning and word play in the word Natuhrzeit cannot be conveyed with one English word. It very well may be best translated as “time for nature,” while likewise meaning “clock-shown time for nature.” Make sense? No? Not nearly as poetic in English, though it pains me to say so. In any case, please take my statement for it: the name is very clever to a German speaker.
And while the entirety of this is interesting, it actually doesn’t tell you what the clock does.
Or does it?
Miki Eleta’s Natuhrzeit
“Es ist einfach ein Stück der Natur,” Eleta explains. “It’s just a piece of nature.”
“What you have here is like time that you experience somewhere in a forest without a telephone or radio: it’s sunrise, sunset, and other phenomena . . .” In other words, it’s the subjective perception of time passing.
The clock doesn’t show you the time in words, letters, or numerals: you should observe closely and interpret its different movement cycles to get a sense of the current time. This is something Eleta says he took directly from nature.
But that doesn’t mean there is nothing horologically happening. Let’s take the individual elements one by one, going from left to right, to discover exactly what.
The first column on the extreme left depicts sunrise (east) and sunset (west) just as the changing length of the day during the year: the larger the surface between the “wings” at top become, the longer the sunshine is. This is likewise appeared in the figure eight-shaped image beneath the wings at the lower part of that sculpture: the longer the days are, the smaller the lower half of the figure eight appears.
If the two halves of the eight are symmetrical, day and night are the same length; likewise, on the off chance that the upper half is smaller, the day is shorter. At its smallest point, the upper half symbolizes winter solstice; and at its smallest point, the lower half symbolizes summer solstice.
Back at the highest point of that kinetic sculpture we discover another function depicting the month hidden among the many moving parts. Take a gander at the blue glass circle and the gold figures before it: each one of those figures represents a different month by showing agricultural undertakings typical of that month in the northern hemisphere.
“These depictions are typical for the work we do in nature here; for example, one would cut trees in March,” he explained, highlighting the March figurine. “In the next month we may plant seeds.”
A golden depiction of the sun is seen on the blue glass behind the month circle; this sun revolves around the blue circle every 24 hours, pulling the month show with it every time a new day begins.
Moving to the principle column now, which Eleta calls the Zeitsäule, the “time column,” the primary presentation as seen from the base is a depiction of world time. This showcase makes one full revolution every 24 hours, leaping to the next day at 12 PM and taking the zodiac show above it directly alongside it.
Above that is a cylindrical moon phase so accurate that it just needs to be corrected by one entire day every 128 years.
At the very top is an armillary sphere , which may likewise be removed. It tends to be operated by hand to provide the current situating of the heavens. “It’s been said, one needed the armillary in the fifteenth, sixteenth centuries to demonstrate the cosmic order and how the stars and sun move . . . here you can see pretty much everything.”
Miki Eleta Natuhrzeit: flowers, flowers, and more flowers
However, for me it’s the exquisite flower clock to one side of the time column that provides the huge show: it’s breathtakingly delightful.
This isn’t the first time Eleta has used this flower imagery in one of his clocks; simply check out his Flower Clock . The clockwork is driven by the Eleta Escapement.
The hours are appeared by 12 large, five-petal flowers in lapis lazuli and gold. Around 15 minutes before the hour, the flower opens petal by petal until it reaches the entire hour. After the twelfth flower has opened (12 PM), all immediately snap closed at the same time.
The 12 flowers structure a circle around an Alpine aster with 60 petals, each representing one minute. Above the aster circles a bee pollinating the flowers. By situating itself above one of the 60 aster petals, the bee shows the current minute.
Eleta demonstrated the movement of this clock to me by utilizing his fingers to speed it up. “This is a bee, and the bee pollinates the flower. Also, the honey dribbles out down there. No, I’m kidding. It doesn’t trickle . . .” I revealed to you he had a sense of humor.
And that is not every one of the: one of the most delightful pieces of Eleta’s Natuhrzeit is its musical show. Once 60 minutes, chiming gongs play a melody for approximately 20 seconds. Also, the melodies that play are consistently different: Eleta disclosed to me that they will be different for around 300 years!
“It changes constantly, going starting with one base melody then onto the next, etc. Just in around 300 years will it begin to repeat. I dislike repetition,” Eleta reported, a fact highlighted by his dislike of making the same clock twice.
While the music plays, the different-colored glass creatures positioned on top of the gears at the lower part of the flower clock dance along. Just exquisite.
Natuhrzeit required ten months to develop, make, assemble, and regulate. Eleta made each and every one of the components himself with the exception of the glass animals.
And it’s a unique piece. “I protect my clients who need their unique pieces. They spend a great deal of money for the piece. Yet, finding my next idea is never a problem; I have a large number of ideas, thousands. Also, the next one will be the funniest.”
For more data please visit www.mikieleta.ch/timepieces/natuhrzeit .
Quick Facts Miki Eleta Natuhrzeit
Materials: sandblasted, gold-plated or chrome-plated metal and steel, aluminum base, glass, lapis lazuli, mother-of-pearl, silver
Movement: manual with eight-day power reserve, Eleta escapement
Functions: hopping hours, minutes; month, moon phase, 24-hour show, world time, zodiac, sunrise, sunset, length of day, armillary for sky chart, music machine
Restriction: one unique piece
Price: upon request
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