Houston Chronophage

At Marble, creating ancient mythical beasts isn't unusual. The Houston Cronophage fuses traditional with hi-tech to create a clock that redefines the standards by which all others will be judged. Marble were approached by Dr John C Taylor to help him generate a new creature to monitor time on board his famous gold clock. Dr Taylor invented the Corpus Chronophage, which was unveiled in 2008 by Stephen Hawking, and resides in central Cambridge attracting tourists year round. Marble had the pleasure of supporting Dr Taylor in the development of a new clock, from concept through to installation in Houston Museum of Natural Science in 2015, where it entertained the public for over a year before before its final installation with a private collector.

Concept Generation

We worked closely with our client to capture thoughts, ideas and desires, translating them into a narrative that described the Creature's looks, personality and life story.

"A once beautiful creature she's now beginning to show her age. Glimpses of her former beauty are evident in her magnificent, intricate wing structure and her deep mesmerising eyes. However the attractions she once had are beginning to fade..."

Marble evolved their ideas creatively using concept sketches, 2D life size mock ups, 3D prints and materials sampling, exploring a variety of manufacturing, texturing and decoration techniques to obtain the desired look and feel and ensure longevity of finish. Marble effectively managed and directed a team of engineers and artists including glass blowers, guilders, enamellers and opera singers!

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Design Detail

The art of fusion is integrating tradition and innovation, craft and engineering. Marble left no stone unturned in our search for exactly the right look and finish, ensuring high quality, durability and precision at each stage. Combining cutting edge design tools, manufacturing technologies and materials, with centuries-old handcrafted techniques, to achieve a level of finish and resolution worthy of a truly bespoke timepiece.

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Six unique wings were designed in CAD, 3D sintered in titanium, etched, anodised, enamelled, guilded and assembled onto a motor driven mechanism. Inspired by a ladybird, the wings are housed in a protective wing case to enable a spectacular reveal and display on the hour

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Mechanical Engineering

The heritage of this clock stretches back nearly 300 years to John Harrison and his invention of the Grasshopper escapement mechanism. As with previous clocks the escapement wheel is controlled by the Chronophage's legs 'walking' on the clock, however, all other aspects were re-engineered, utilising the latest LED and control technology, ensuring optimal precision and reliability. The chronophage displays an array of 'tricks' as time passes including head nods, head rotation, jaw opening, tongue motion, tail stings and a spectacular display of her 6 wings on the hour. All of the mechanisms to undertake this were designed and engineered at Marble.

Software & Control

A feast for the senses, this Chronophage is a true walking, talking and singing kinetic sculpture. Like everyone she has her moods. There are times when she is playful and mischievous, other times when she seems tired and weary. These moods can be seen and heard as she marks the passing of time throughout the day, or displayed on request via remote control or user interface. Marble developed custom software, electronics, remote monitoring and the user interface to drive and control all aspects of her performance. As the designers of this unique time piece, the ongoing delight is seeing the reaction of viewers. It never fails to generate a smile.

Want to commission your own kinetic sculpture? Our track record speaks for itself, give us a call.