Lépine, a few observations...

Just a few words about Jean-Antoine Lépine.
Lépine was mentioned in an earlier post. I thought this brief history of his work might be of interest.

He is credited with a fundamental change in the design of the watch movements layout, rendering it flatter and thus wearable. It was in response to a desire in the fashion world to have a lighter thinner watch that one could actually wear in a vest without an unsightly bulge. The French, who were masters of haute couture for both sexes attempted a thinned-down watch with the older crown-verge/fuse controlled mainspring. But the accuracy and dependability were victims to this change.
With the development of George Graham’s cylinder escapement and developments in metallurgy, the naissance of the modern pocket watch concept arrived.
But Lépine may have had some help in the design.  About 15 years earlier, a certain Pierre-Augustin Caron laid claim to a flat watch design in which the going train was laid out horizontally using a different escapement and doing away with the fusée and chain. But alas, rather than taking advantage of his design he decided upon a completely different career path, notably as a playwright. Many outside France will not recognize his name; but those in France and those with even a passing knowledge of French literature most certainly will…Monsieur de Beaumarchais.
Now , Lépine just happened to marry the sister of Pierre-Augustin in 1756 and it is difficult to believe that he did not come across his work in horology.
(BTW, does anyone know whether the famous Leslie Caron is a descendant of this family?)
Moving right along…Lépine displayed his layout in 1770, which consisted of separate thin bridges rather than a back plate and a horizontal layout. The balance cock could now be set below the level of a back plate. And with a going barrel instead of a fusée, the watch thickness could be measured in millimetres instead of centimetres. His design was copied by Abraham-Louis Breguet and improved upon significantly. And it is this improved version that bears the name of the “Lépine Calibre”.
Of note are two things. First the ¾ plate did persist in British watch making and still persists today, most notably in the watches of A. Lange und Söhne. Secondly, Lange did bring back the fusée movement and chain a few years ago. I saw it at the SIHH and it was a spectacular marvel of engineering.
André-Charles Caron, Beaumarchais' father was in fact the
11/11/2013 - 10:07
inventor of the skeleton watch circa 1760! A real family of watchmakers
Re: André-Charles Caron, Beaumarchais' father was in fact the
11/11/2013 - 13:30
Thanks, Alex. I knew he was a watchmaker, but i did not know this fact. It's interesting to see that Beaumarchais tried to distance himself from horology altogether (too manual!), and never really complained about Lépine's success, maybe because it was in the family. Joseph
Thanks JB and Alex, I love learning this type of history! (nt)
11/12/2013 - 16:43