L'Epée Reigns as Switzerland's Premier Clockmaker
For over 175 years, L'Epée has been at the forefront of watch and clock making. Today, it is the only specialized manufacture in Switzerland dedicated to making high-end clocks. L'Epée was founded in 1839, initially to make music box and watch components, by Auguste L’Epée who set up the business near Besançon, France. The L’Epée hallmark was that all parts were made entirely by hand.
From 1850 onwards, the manufacture became a leading light in the production of ‘platform’ escapements, creating regulators especially for alarm clocks, table clocks and musical watches. By 1877, it was making 24,000 platform escapements annually. The manufacture became a well-known specialist owning many patents on special escapements such as anti-knocking, auto-starting and constant-force escapements and the chief supplier of escapements to several celebrated watchmakers of the day. L'Epée has won several gold awards at International Exhibitions.
During the 20th century, L'Epée owed much of its reputation to its superlative carriage clocks and, for many, L'Epée was the clock of the influential and powerful; it was also the gift of choice by French government officials to elite guests. In 1976 when the Concorde supersonic aircraft entered commercial service, L'Epée wall clocks were chosen to furnish the cabins, providing passengers with visual feedback of the time.
In 1994, L'Epée showed its thirst for a challenge when it built the world's biggest clock with compensated pendulum, the Giant Regulator. At 2.2m high, it weighs 1.2 tons – the mechanical movement alone weighs 120kg – and required 2,800 man-hours of work.
L'Epée is now based in Delémont in the Swiss Jura Mountains. Under the guidance of CEO Arnaud Nicolas, L’Epée 1839 has developed an exceptional table clock collection, encompassing a range of sophisticated classic Carriage Clocks, Contemporary Design Clocks (Le Duel and La Tour) and avant-garde horological sculptures (Sherman, Starfleet Machine, Arachnophobia, Balthazar).
The Art line collection, was launched for its 175th Anniversary in 2014 and is intended to shock, evoke, and inspire people, not to toe the line. L’Epée clocks feature complications including retrograde seconds, power reserve indicators, perpetual calendars, tourbillons, and striking mechanisms – all designed and manufactured in-house. Ultra-long power reserves have become a signature of the brand as well as superlative fine finishing.