Nixie (“Numeric Indicator eXperimental No. 1”) tubes were displays used for digital readouts before the advent of the LED. Popular with James Bond villains who wanted to rule the world yet whose bomb timers stopped at exactly 007 when Bond figured out what wire to cut (and with scientists), the tubes once graced the highest of the high tech circa 1950.
Now, however, they’re a geek oddity and they don’t get any odder than in the MB&F Nixie Machine II, a candelabra-like clock built with the help of artist Frank Buchwald. The clock, which is limited to 12 pieces and costs a mere $30,000, is available in MB&F’s M.A.D. Gallery, an art gallery dedicated to wild machines.
Why are these things so expensive? Buchwald works with Dalibor Farny, a Czech inventor who makes the Nixie tubes in his workshop by hand. What was once used as a mass-market numerical display for scientific instruments has now become a luxury item. The clock is made of steel and brass and there are flexible tubes that power the tubes. “An orange glow surrounding the visible inner structure of the Nixie tubes provides the piece with both an industrial look and a bio-animated character,” write the creators.
While you can get Nixie clocks online for not much money – a buddy made one for me that is one of my prized possessions – if you’re a petro-oligarch with unlimited henchmen and money then this particular model might be a good addition to your secret underwater lair into which you can lure James Bond only to find out that he has sussed out your evil plan to rule the world.