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A creative odysseyBASELWORLD 2017: The Astrograph Limited Edition

Projecting his dreams of conquering space onto a writing instrument was the original idea of the founder of MB&F, Maximilian Büsser. The creative and technical forces within Caran d'Ache enthusiastically embraced this new adventure, which proved to be both thrilling and complex.

The result is the Astrograph writing instrument, product of the overflowing creativity of its designers. An artistic union that took root among the common values held dear by both Maisons: limitless creativity, respect for traditions, impeccable quality and Swiss Made.

The start of the adventure

The Astrograph adventure began four years earlier, when Maximilian Büsser revealed his idea to Caran d'Ache's creative teams: to let his childhood dreams of travelling in space unfold in a writing instrument. His meeting with Caran d'Ache paved the way for this idea, as poetic as it was as technically challenging, to become a reality. Explorers at heart, Caran d'Ache's teams drew upon their imagination and technical ingenuity to construct an actual rocket – in reality an exceptional writing instrument that is extremely comfortable in the hand. Astrograph reminds us that we all hide a childhood dream in our heart.

Technical challenges

Developing Astrograph was truly challenging. Four years of gestation and discussions were necessary to perfect the technical concept. The result of this collaboration is the futuristically designed body of an instrument that comprises a multitude of innovative features among a total of 99 components: a "detent" system of vertical stabilisation, launch-pad box, magnetic figurine... It took a whole year to develop the final model. It takes more than 500 manual operations to produce each writing instrument, genuine proof of an adventure.

The innovative design of the Astrograph, together with the many challenges that were overcome throughout the development of each of its component parts, have led to the creation of the most complex writing instrument ever made in the Caran d’Ache workshops.

Aboard the Astrograph

The slim, curved body of the Astrograph, is immediately reminiscent of the outline of a space rocket. Its fluid design is accentuated by a chequered pattern, enhanced with anthracite lacquer – a particularly delicate process carried out by craftsmen and a speciality of Caran d’Ache. The proportions have been designed to ensure that the whole body is perfectly balanced so that it rests perfectly in the hand.

The structure is articulated by an ingenious mechanism inspired by penknives: a miniature lever –the entry door to the rocket, concealed in the ring of the pen – activates the simultaneous and symmetrical lowering of three stabiliser legs. These, just like the miniature ladder than runs alongside the "thruster engines" have parts that are sandblasted, satin-finished and rhodium-plated. Once the stabiliser legs have been deployed, it is possible to stand Astrograph up, vertically, ready for take-off.

The Astrograph rocket also comes with a miniature figurine of an astronaut. Rhodium-plated and magnetised, it will attach to any part of the body of the instrument, ready to "climb on board". Just for fun, a presentation box in the form of a launch pad has been specially devised for Astrograph. This writing instrument may be placed in a vertical position, pointing towards the stars: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…

We have lift-off!

The instrument unscrews to reveal a fountain pen inside the fuselage. The fountain pen is "launched" from its "base" to join the hand that will write the rest of the story, setting down on paper dreams of space, speed and conquest. At this point, Astrograph 's tactile dimension takes on its full significance here: touch it, feel the smooth run of the screw thread when you undo the cap and the way the rhodium-plated 18-carat gold nib glides across the paper...

Astrograph is available in three finishes: high-gloss rhodium, sandblasted matt rhodium or anthracite ruthenium. These limited editions are aimed at those who love unusual objets d’art – and at those who have managed to keep hold of an essential part of their childhood dreams.

Caran d’Ache, Maison de Haute Ecriture

Heir to more than a century's worth of valuable know-how, the Maison Caran d’Ache has, since its foundation in 1915, been cultivating the spirit of elegance and the particular care with which it always devotes to the art of fine writing. Based on respect for Swiss manufacturing traditions, on impeccable quality and on perfect technical mastery, the Maison Caran d’Ache is continuing its commitment to innovation and limitless creativity. Its exceptional writing instruments, true masterpieces produced in limited editions, are testimony to the union between technical sophistication, absolute reliability and artistic virtuosity.

MB&F – conceptual horological laboratory

MB&F – Maximilian Büsser & Friends – has managed to carve out a pioneering path in the world of fine Swiss watchmaking, while still maintaining respect for its traditions. The founder and his team of friends, who are all lovers of mechanical art and avant-garde design, create "time machines", kinetic sculptures or mini robots that recall the world of their childhood: superheroes that come out of science fiction, famous strip cartoons and the legends of automobile and aerospace design.