L'Epée

L’EPEE 1839—Switzerland’s leading clock manufacture

L’Epée has been a prominent clockmaking firm for more than 175 years. Today, it is the only manufacture in Switzerland to specialize in the production of high-end clocks. Founded in 1839 by Auguste L’Epée in France’s Besançon region, the company originally focused on producing music boxes and watch components. Even at this early stage, the brand was synonymous with entirely hand-made pieces.

L’Epée 1839 is currently based in Delémont in the Swiss Jura Mountains. With CEO Arnaud Nicolas at the helm, it has developed an exceptional collection of table clocks that includes an entire range of sophisticated clocks.

The collection focuses on three themes:

Creative Art – Artistic pieces first and foremost, often developed in partnership with external designers as joint creations. These clocks surprise, inspire and even shock the most seasoned collectors. They are intended for those consciously or unconsciously looking for exceptional objects that are one of a kind.

Contemporary Timepieces – Technical creations with a contemporary design (Le Duel, Duet, etc.) and minimalist, avant-garde models (La Tour) incorporating complications such as retrograde seconds, power reserve indicators, moon phases, tourbillons, chiming mechanisms or perpetual calendars.

Carriage Clocks – Lastly, classic travel clocks, also known as “officers’ clocks”. These historical pieces issued from the brand’s heritage also feature their fair share of complications: chiming mechanisms, minute repeaters, calendars, moon phases, tourbillons and more.

All pieces are designed and manufactured in-house. Their technical prowess, combination of form and function, very long power reserves and remarkable finishes have become signature features of the brand.

Some timepieces to
discover

Vanitas – Color

  • Description
  • Technical Specifications

The Skull is the ultimate symbol of life, death and human experience – as such it has played a key role in both Horological History and Art History. Through Fiona Krüger’s artistic approach to Haute Horlogerie and L’Epée’s know-how, the Skull has been re-interpreted into a mechanical Vanitas painting for the 21st Century. Quick history lesson: A Vanitas is a still life artwork which includes various symbolic objects to remind the viewer of the transience of life. This was an important and popular genre of painting in the 1600’s and include symbols like skulls and extinguished candles. Vanitas is engineered and crafted by L’Epée 1839, Switzerland’s specialised high-end clock manufacturer, founded in 1839. This charismatic cranium reminds you to celebrate life. The hours and minutes are shown by the clock’s hands, and a power reserve indicator is integrated into the mouth of the skull. As Vanitas loses power it starts to yawn, indicating it needs to be wound up. Though with a 35-day power-reserve, this monthly ritual will give you a moment to stop and take stock of the time you have. Fiona’s Fine Art and Design training, combined with her international upbringing are apparent in the design of this mechanical symbol. Having spent part of her childhood in Mexico City her vivid memories of the Dia de los Muertos festival have influenced her own skull collection and this latest collaboration with L’Epée.

This mechanical Vanitas is rich in symbolism but also in humour. The bridges of the clock are intricately detailed, designed to build up into a pattern which ultimately forms this ornate skull. Creativity is at the heart of both L’Epée 1839 and Fiona Krüger Timepieces. This is evident in L’Epée’s acceptance of the challenge to create this modern day Vanitas with a humorous twist. The new “yawning” power reserve indicator required a whole new development and re-engineering of the clock movement. It is a marriage between fantasy and purpose which is at the core of the collaboration. The ideas of life, time and mortality are synonymous and even more relevant in mechanical clock-making today than they have ever been. The unique design of the Skull imitating yawning as the power reserve depletes, joined with the ability to bring the clock to life as its wound up, reflects the history of clock making where fantasy, creativity and purpose were all incorporated in equal measure to create designs which made people dream.

  • Reference
  • 50.6001/300
  • Limited edition
  • 50 pieces
  • Movement
  • Caliber 2010 FK
  • Winding
  • Hand winding with a special key
  • Power reserve
  • 35 days
  • Frequency
  • 18 000 alt/H
  • Components
  • 446
  • Functions
  • Hours and Minutes,
    display of Power reserve : the mouth opens while the power reserve empties
  • Dimensions
  • 30.6 cm high, 22 cm large et 8.6 cm thick
  • Weight
  • 5 kgs
  • Jewels
  • 11
  • Finishings
  • Palladium ans Black PVD, colors printed Polishing and sand blasting
  • Material
  • Aluminium, mineral glass, brass and stainless steel

Balthazar All Black

  • Description
  • Technical Specifications

Whether you absolutely love, moderately appreciate or just hate the saga Star Wars, we all have in common the never-ending search for a hero. Our hero is without a doubt a robot from Tatooine – an adventurer despite himself, who lost an arm on the battlefield and was built by Anakin himself: C-3PO. Inspired by this gold humanoid robot, L’Epée has developed a very special gold edition of Balthazar: ‘B4’, limited to 20 pieces. His brother, straight out of the dark side, Balthazar B5, features a fully black PVD armor and a light palladium-plated movement. The balance between light and dark side is respected. Balthazar B4 and B5 are respectively the fourth and fifth, final editions of Balthazar: after blue, black and green editions, the B4 / B5 limited editions are now fully gold plated, from head to toe and fully black (except movement that couldn’t be PVD due to technical reasons). Unlike C-3PO, these new editions may not be fluent in six million forms of communication, but they can indicate the moon phase with extreme accuracy: all he needs is a single day of adjustment after 122 years! They will also unfailingly tell you the time. Standing nearly 40 centimetres tall (16 inches), Balthazar is composed of 618 beautifully finished, micro-engineered components. More specifically, Balthazar is a sophisticated high-precision robot clock displaying “slow” jumping hours and trailing minutes via two discs on his chest.

A power reserve indicator is located on his belly – he boasts an impressive month-busting 35 days of power reserve. His friendly face may seem serene, but he remains nonetheless always on guard: his red eyes, which continually scan the surroundings, are actually 20-second retrograde displays. But beware… there is also a dark side to Balthazar, as there is in all of us. Balthazar rotates around the hips like the high-precision machine that he is; you can feel the miniscule bumps of each micro-roller as he turns, and each distinct notch when he rotates the full 180°. Then everything changes: smiling Balthazar becomes rather terrifying. To quote another Star Wars figure, the infamous Darth Vader: “If you only knew the power of the dark side.” On this side, the nature of Balthazar’s darkness is revealed by the cold hard skull with menacing teeth and deep-set ruby-red eyes. Fortunately, it’s not all threat here as Balthazar’s chest also contains the moon phase display. You can adjust the moon phase manually, providing one of many of Balthazar’s tactile pleasures. Balthazar does more than display horological events: as well as rotating around the hips, his arms articulate at both the shoulders and the elbows, and his hands can clasp and hold objects. Finally, Balthazar’s shield conceals and protects the secret of his awesome power: an integrated clock-winding and time-setting key.

  • Reference
  • 50.6803/211
  • Limited edition
  • 20 pieces
  • Movement
  • Caliber 2010 HMDM
  • Winding
  • Hand winding with a special key located in the shield of Balthazar
  • Power reserve
  • 35 days
  • Frequency
  • 18 000 alt/H
  • Components
  • 405
  • Functions
  • Jumping hours and sweeping minutes, 20-second retrograde second displayand power reserve indicator
  • Dimensions
  • 39.4 cm high x 23.8 cm large x 12.4 cm thick
  • Weight
  • 8.2 kgs
  • Jewels
  • 62
  • Finishings
  • Black PVD, Geneva waves, poishing, circular and vertical satining, sun decoration
  • Material
  • Aluminium, brass and stainless steel

Destination Moon – Acier

  • Description
  • Technical Specifications

Reality sucks! In the 1960s, science fiction had us flying through the air on hoverboards and our imaginations soared, but we ended up with non-hovering boards with wheels on solid ground. Science fiction promised us 3D TV and engineers delivered, but we took one look, felt queasy and out they went.

Science fiction filled our imaginations with elegant ovoid-shaped rockets that would fly us to the moon and beyond. Again engineers delivered, but the rockets, although eminently practical, ended up being straight, uninspiring cylinders. Some things are best left to the imagination and MB&F’s Destination Moon does just that. It delivers just enough engineering for an eight-day clock looking like an exciting science fiction rocket from the 1960s, but with plentiful empty space allowing our imaginations to fill in the details.

Conceived by MB&F and built by L’Epée 1839, Switzerland’s premier clock maker, Destination Moon is the quintessential torpedo-shaped rocket of childhood dreams. But look more closely and you will see that its minimalistic form is evocative rather than definitive. Hours and minutes are displayed on large diameter stainless steel discs with stamped numerals. While the legibility of the time display is not in question, focusing on the time rather than the spectacular, vertically-structured, open movement is likely to require deep concentration.

 

Developed specifically for Destination Moon, the architecture of L’Epée’s eight-day movement follows the basic design of a real spaceship. Power in a rocket comes from its base; the power for Destination Moon comes from the oversized winding crown in its base. The management and control systems of a rocket are above the power source; the same holds true for Destination Moon, which has a vertical regulator controlling precision below the time display, as well as a time-setting knob at the top of the movement.

That eye-catching regulator with its animated balance is protected from cosmic radiation (and curious fingers) by a small panel of virtually invisible mineral glass. In a further tip of the hat to childhood toys and fantasies, the horizontal circular plates in Destination Moon’s movement are perforated like Meccano components. Despite its ethereal openwork construction, at four kilograms (nine pounds) Destination Moon is no lightweight: its solid landing pods ensure that it will not easily be knocked off course (or knocked over). And then there’s Neil: a smile-inducing, space-suited figurine forged in solid silver and stainless steel, magnetically attached to the ladder connecting the crown to the movement. Neil is the astronaut flying Destination Moon to exotic worlds, but more importantly, Neil imparts a childlike sense of wonder by putting man into the machine.

  • Reference
  • 74.6000/104
  • Limited edition
  • 50 pieces
  • Movement
  • Caliber 1855
  • Winding
  • Rotating the wheel at the base of the rocket
  • Power reserve
  • 8 days
  • Frequency
  • 18 000 alt/H
  • Components
  • 237
  • Functions
  • Hour and minute indications stamped on rotating stainless steel discs
  • Dimensions
  • 41.4 cm high x 23.3 cm diameter
  • Weight
  • 4 kgs
  • Jewels
  • 17
  • Finishings
  • Polishing and sand-blasting
  • Material
  • Stainless steel and brass

The Fifth Element – Black

  • Description
  • Technical Specifications

The Fifth Element is an intergalactic horological weather station enabling accurate weather forecasting even when the power goes down. Four (UFO) elements: clock, barometer, hygrometer, and thermometer combine in a mothership (with Ross, the alien pilot) to create an entity much larger than the sum of its parts: The Fifth Element.

An analogue weather station might at first glance appear anachronistic; however, when the storm hits and the power goes down, the Fifth Element will still work perfectly. And, in the worst-case scenario, you can hitch a ride off planet Earth with Ross. MB&F founder Maximilian Büsser long admired desktop weather stations of the last century, but frustrated in not finding the right vintage model for himself decided to create his own.

 

Four removable and interchangeable instrument Elements make up the Fifth Element:

Clock Element Because weather forecasting is based on the speed of changes over time, the accurate time is required for meteorological observations. For the Fifth Element, L’Epée 1839 reengineered and skeletonised their 8-day clock movement to maximize transparency and visual access.

Barometer Element The barometer, which measures air pressure, is the mainstay of weather forecasting: as a general rule, increasing air pressure foretells good clear weather, decreasing air pressure portends inclement weather. The faster the change, the more extreme the coming weather.

Hygrometer Element The hygrometer measures the percentage of water vapour in the air; it displays this as a percentage of the maximum amount of moisture that might be held at a given temperature. Thermometer Element

  • Reference
  • 19.6000/124
  • Limited edition
  • 18 pieces
  • Movement
  • Caliber 1853 SK4 et independant rotating movement
  • Winding
  • Hand winding with a special key
  • Power reserve
  • 8 days
  • Frequency
  • 18 000 alt/H
  • Components
  • 531
  • Functions
  • Clock (hours and minutes), , barometer , thermometer, hygrometer
  • Dimensions
  • 37,6 cms of diameter x 21 cms high
  • Weight
  • 15 kgs
  • Jewels
  • 11
  • Finishings
  • Polishing, satining, sand-blasting
  • Material
  • Stainless steel, copper, bronze and brass

Hot Balloon – Red

  • Description
  • Technical Specifications

To fly, float, glide, navigate in the air, traveling from place to place; to surpass oneself, to go further, higher, faster; or, at a leisurely pace, to take the time to have one’s head in the clouds. L’Épée 1839 has previously included a number of flying objects in its collections, but today it presents the first to have offered mankind the gift of flight: the hot air balloon!”

Immediate boarding on the Hot Balloon, the mechanical clock in the form of a hot air balloon created by L’Épée 1839. This suspended clock follows the brand’s other co-creations – the Vanitas and Arachnophobia wall clocks. Placed simply on a table or suspended from the ceiling as if flying through the air, this kinetic sculpture symbolizes adventure and whimsy while remaining an exceptional mechanical timepiece.

 

An official partner of l’École cantonale d’art de Lausanne (ECAL), and specifically its Masters program in Advanced Studies in Design for Luxury and Craftsmanship, L’Épée 1839 created this clock on the theme of travel in collaboration with the talented design student Margo Clavier.

Inspired by the hot air balloon and all that it represents – adventure, imagination, discovery, ambition, freedom – Margo and L’Épée 1839 unveil a mechanical clock with impressive, sometimes floating presence which displays the hours and minutes for eight days.

An authentic piece of watchmaking art, Hot Balloon can also be admired from below, just as one might view a hot-air balloon overhead, as is the very first mechanical clock that can be hung from the ceiling. The clock is set and wound in either position through an ingenious system that combines form and function, design and engineering, precision and durability. To set the time, simply turn the wheel-shaped crown located in place of the balloon’s burner blast valve.

  • Reference
  • 74.6002/504
  • Limited edition
  • 50 pieces
  • Movement
  • Caliber 1855 LR
  • Winding
  • Rotating the basket of the Hot Balloon
  • Power reserve
  • 8 days
  • Frequency
  • 18 000 alt/H
  • Components
  • 217
  • Functions
  • Hours and minutes
  • Dimensions
  • 38.5 cm long x 16 cm wide x 12 cm high
  • Weight
  • 4,7 kilos
  • Jewels
  • 26
  • Finishings
  • Polished and sand-blasted movement (plates and wheels) Satin-finished struts (stringers) Polished and satin-finished rims Painted bodywork
  • Materials
  • Blown glass dome, machined and polished to simulate the driver’s helmet Front and rear bodywork in aluminum Automotive painting Spoked rims in stainless steel Tires in hard-wearing rubber

Time Fast D8 – Art in Time

  • Description
  • Technical Specifications

L’Epée 1839 takes us behind the wheel of the Time Fast. This vintage-inspired race car and a modern clock in one is a kinetic sculpture that tells the time. It was designed by Georg Foster, a promising young newcomer and major contributor to this second collaboration between ECAL (Ecole cantonale d’art de Lausanne) and the Swiss manufacture. The piece features a number of eye-catching details, such as the long protruding engine hood, the typical 1950s radiator grill, the large spoked wheels, the driving seat positioned to the rear and the sloping back section. Its overall sporty feel is reinforced by its elegant design, flawless finishes and fluid lines. The name of the Time Fast D8 clearly conveys its technical aspirations, incorporating a motor that can last 8 days—or rather an in-house caliber with a 192-hour power reserve beating at 18,000 vibrations per hour.

This kinetic sculpture displays the hours and minutes like a race number, allowing the time to be easily read on the side of the chassis. A figure sits in the cockpit, where a glass dome, or rather a driver’s helmet, highlights the thrumming escapement. In front of him is the steering wheel, which adopts the three-spoke design typically seen in race cars, serving to set the time. Meanwhile, in a subtle nod to childhood memories, the mechanical motor is wound just like a pull-back car. With 289 ultra-precise mechanical components finished with the greatest care, Time Fast promises its owner nothing but pure pleasure and sensations. Measuring 38 cm long, 16 cm wide and 12 high and weighing just 4.7 kg, this race car is by no means lacking in stature and could easily have come straight from one of the greatest motorsports stables.

  • Reference
  • 74.6004/174
  • Limited edition
  • 10 pieces
  • Movement
  • Caliber 1855 MHD - In house
  • Winding
  • The clock is wound using the rear wheels: Reverse the car to fill it up
  • Power reserve
  • 8 days
  • Frequency
  • 18 000 alt/H
  • Components
  • 289
  • Functions
  • Hours and minutes
  • Dimensions
  • 38.5 cm long x 16 cm wide x 12 cm high
  • Weight
  • 4,7 kilos
  • Jewels
  • 26
  • Finishings
  • Polished and sand-blasted movement (plates and wheels) Satin-finished struts (stringers) Polished and satin-finished rims Painted bodywork
  • Materials
  • Blown glass dome, machined and polished to simulate the driver’s helmet Front and rear bodywork in aluminum Automotive painting Spoked rims in stainless steel Tires in hard-wearing rubber

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