$18,500 TIE Fighter music box hides surprising tunes

Only 99 of these pricey music boxes will be made, each playing six movie and TV themes including -- of course -- the theme to "Star Wars."

Michael Franco
Freelancer Michael Franco writes about the serious and silly sides of science and technology for CNET and other pixel and paper pubs. He's kept his fingers on the keyboard while owning a B&B in Amish country, managing an eco-resort in the Caribbean, sweating in Singapore, and rehydrating (with beer, of course) in Prague. E-mail Michael.
Michael Franco
2 min read

This TIE Fighter would even be music to a Rebel Alliance pilot's ears. MB&F

In the "Star Wars" films, the roaring sound of an Imperial TIE Fighter's twin ion engines (if you actually could hear sound in space), struck fear in the hearts of many Rebel Alliance pilots. The sounds produced by a sleekly crafted TIE Fighter music box, however, are likely a lot more soothing.

Created to celebrate the 10th anniversary of high-end timepiece creators MB&F, the music box is a high-end marvel that would be the crown jewel in any "Star Wars" fan's collection. Unfortunately, it has a price tag that will prevent that from happening for most of us young Padawans.

The music box features two separate cylinders -- one mounted in each wing -- which are wound by knobs disguised as the ship's engines. As the right cylinder rotates and the "comb" passes over its spikes, it plays snippets of the themes from three movie franchises: "Star Wars," "Mission: Impossible" and James Bond. The left cylinder plays selections of the themes from "The Godfather," " Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence," and "The Persuaders." (Those last two pieces of music might seem a bit obscure, but you might recognize them if you follow the links.)

The main body of the music box is made from aluminum with a lacquer finish. Other details like the cylinders and winding keys are crafted from brass. One of the most interesting parts of the music box is the base. It's made from 350-year-old spruce and Kevlar and acts as a natural speaker, much in the same way the body of a guitar or violin amplifies the sound created by the strings. The sound from the cylinders is transmitted to the base through the wings.

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The creation is called the MusicMachine 3 and, as you might have guessed, is the third music box in a series -- each of which is crafted to look like a spaceship, although this is the first one modeled after a ship from an actual film franchise. (You can see MusicMachine 1 here, and MusicMachine 2 here.) It is the final one in the series and only 99 of them are being made: 33 in white, 33 in black and 33 in a chrome finish.

Though with the price tag set at 17,500 Swiss francs (about $18,500, £12,000, AU$25,000), according to timepiece news site Hodinkee, 99 of the music boxes might actually last quite a while.

(Via Mashable)