Lepine à Paris "Invenit et Fecit", Horologer de Roy, Paris, Case No. 5659, 51 mm, 85 g, circa 1789
A gentleman's extremely rare, half pearl-set gold enamel pocket watch with Lépine's wolf's-tooth train Case: 18k gold, back with engine-turned pattern and translucent green enamelling; round central cartouche with gouache painting: Personification of Music with harp, flute and sheet of music, and small putto. Half pearl borders on front and back, bow and pendant; case maker's punch mark "GM" (Guillaume Mermillod). Dial: enamel, combined Arabic/Roman numerals, signed: "Lepine invenit et fecit", pierced "Fleur de Lys" gold hands. Movm.: Lépine" caliber, frosted, firegilt, wolf's tooth going barrel, cylinder escapement, three-arm ring balance, wolf's-tooth train for going mechanism.
Jean-Antonine Lépine (1720-1814) Lépine went to Paris in 1744 to work in the shop of André-Charles Caron. He later married Caron's daughter and obtained his master craftsman's certificate in 1756. Lépine became known in 1763 when he invented a new striking mechanism for pocket watches, which was made public in the "Mémoires de l'Académie des Sciences" in 1766. Lépine was appointed clockmaker to the king in 1765; he took over his father-in-law's workshop a year later. His idea of replacing the backplate with bridges and cocks made the service of the watches much easier and achieved his breakthrough in 1770. He formed a partnership with Claude-Pierre Raguet in 1792 and called himself "Horloger du Roi" from then on.
Lepine Caliber This is one of the first watches with a design based on the principles and horological inventions of Lepine. It has the typical early Lepine layout that is now called Lepine's caliber; it was constructed around 1770 and employes wolf-tooth wheels - Lepine was the first to use these wheels to strengthen the gearing. The design also uses his repeating system "The King's Mechanical Expert", invented in 1763 and published 1766 in "Mémoir of the Académie des Sciences". It was a revolutionary mechanism where the hour and quarter racks were placed directly on the winding arbor, eliminating the fragile winding chain. The watch is also important because it advances our knowledge of Lepine's manufacturing practices. The ebauche maker responsible for it was most probabely Descombaz, the most important maker of ebauches for Breguet and Lepine. George Washington bought a Lepine watch (without repeating) in April 1789, which is now the collection of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
Estimate 8,500 - 10,500 €
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