- Museum number
GOLD CASED CYLINDER WATCH WITH DATE INDICATOR.
Cylinder escapement; Wolf's-teeth throughout train.
Enamel dial; day-of-month; mixed Roman and Arabic chapters.
Gold hour and minute hands; blued-steel date indicator.
- Production date
- 1788 (case)
Diameter: 54.50 millimetres (case)
- Curator's comments
- Text from 'Watches', by David Thompson, London, 2008, p. 100-101.
GOLD CASED CYLINDER WATCH WITH DATE INDICATOR
SIGNED: 'LEPINE INVENIT ET FECIT' (on the dial) and 'Lepine h.ger du Roy A PARIS F. No. 5443' (on the cuvette), together with three fleurs-de-lis
Jean-Antoine Lépine was one of the more accomplished watchmakers working in pre-Revolution Paris, and is now known for his introduction of a new construction for watch movements. In the eighteenth century it was common practice to arrange all the wheels and pinions between two plates, usually held apart by four pillars. This construction, known as full-plate, can be seen in many earlier watches in this book. Lépine introduced a new arrangement, now generally referred to as the 'Lépine' calibre, in which the watch is built up on a single plate with screwed-in separate cocks and bridges to provide bearing for the various wheels and pinions. In addition the use of the fusee was abandoned and power was provided by a hanging going barrel, with the first gear wheel forming an integral part of the barrel wall. The aim of this new construction was to facilitate easier assembly and simpler access for maintenance, as well as allowing the watch to be thinner. The new montres classiques began to appear in the period 1762-72, but it was between 1772 and 1792 that the main production took place.
Jean-Antoine Lépine was born in Challex on 18 November 1720, the son of the clockmaker Philibert Depigny and his wife Marie, née Girod. Jean-Antoine was apprenticed to Decrose, a watchmaker in Sacconnex-en-Genevois, and in 1744 he travelled to Paris where he began working with André-Charles Caron. Lépine married Caron's daughter Madeleine-Françoise in 1756. Ten years later he took over Caron's business, and in 1772 moved the workshops to place Dauphine; a further move in 1778 took them to Quai de l'Horloge. Lépine's daughter married Claude Pierre Raguet, whom he took into partnership in the business. Jean-Antoine Lépine died in his house in rue St Anne in 1814. In his extensive account of Lépine, Adolphe Chapiro suggests that he began using the title Horloger du Roy around 1765-6.
The dial of this watch displays a design that seems to have been used exclusively by Lépine. It incorporates a mixture of Roman and Arabic numerals, probably to create a chapter ring that appears uncluttered compared with the full Roman version. The oval around the one o'clock numeral also seems to be a Lépine idea. Another interesting aspect of this watch is Lépine's use of wolf's-tooth gearing. Here the tooth is angled and only the acting face on one side of the tooth is shaped in an epicycloid to provide an optimum transfer of force. This form of gearing is little used in watches but is mostly found in winding ratchet wheels incorporated in Swiss watches of the nineteenth century.
The gold case carries the Paris gold mark for 1788 and the case-maker's mark 'OTM'. The watch is both wound and hand set through the cuvette, which is accessed by pressing a button in the top of the pendant which releases the sprung back; this flips open to reveal the winding and setting squares.
- On display (G39/dc14/no51)
Latest: 3 (2016)
3 (1994) The dial is not attached to the movement. One dial foot is broken away at the pin hole and the other dial foot is missing. Only the hands hold it in place.
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Previous owner/ex-collection number: CAI.0289 (Ilbert Collection)
Previous owner/ex-collection number: M135 (Ilbert Ledger)