Time-Telling Art Piece
Nixie Machine III by Frank Buchwald at MB&F M.A.D.Gallery

Geneva watchmaker MB&F constantly brings out timepieces with interesting themes, ranging from automobiles to space. The brand is also known for displaying kinetic arts, horological machines, and mechanical art devices inside the MB&F M.A.D.Galleries. One of the latest kinetic art pieces on show is the part-retro, part-futuristic Nixie Machine III by Frank Buchwald.

Based in Berlin, Buchwald was a freelance artist and science-fiction illustrator before he focused his attention on designing and creating metallic furniture, including unique sculptural lights. The Nixie Machine III follows in the footsteps of Buchwald’s previous works, Machine Lights, the Nixie Machine, and Nixie Machine II. Nixie tubes were first introduced in the 1950s – the glass tubes use a wire-mesh anode and layered cathodes shaped like numerals, the latter glowing in orange when power is applied, revealing the time. 

Buchwald combines retro techniques with futuristic aesthetics and modern craftsmanship. With the Nixie Machine III, six Nixie tubes appear to be floating from the substructure but are actually held together by a duo-support bracket riveted with massive steel bolts, while steel and brass discs connect to the solid base construction and central cylindrical tower. The main component consists of solid stainless steel and every part has been hand-sanded and polished. In the middle lies a central switch which is illuminated like a blueish preternatural ‘eye’, giving the art piece an alien-like quality. It might come as a surprise that it is also Wi-Fi enabled, and features settings and special features such as scroll effects, day/night mode, digital-light dimming, and time-zone settings.

The Nixie Machine III is exclusively available at the M.A.D. Galleries in Geneva, Dubai, Hong Kong and Taipei, and only 18 examples have been created.