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    Sale 1348

    Important Pocket Watches and Wristwatches

    12 November 2007, Geneva

  • Lot 203

    Lepine. A very fine 18K pink gold à toc quarter repeating openface calendar watch with Lepine calibre and double virgule escapement


    Price Realised  


    Lepine. A very fine 18K pink gold à toc quarter repeating openface calendar watch with Lepine calibre and double virgule escapement
    Signed Lepine, Horloger de l'Imperatrice et Reine a Paris, No. 6127, case stamped PBT for Pierre Benjamin Tavernier and numbered 2097, circa 1798
    With Lépine calibre gilt-finished movement with free standing barrel, double virgule escapement, plain three arm brass balance with parachute on the top pivot, à toc quarter repeating on two polished steel hammers onto the case, gold cuvette, the white enamel dial with Arabic numerals, blued steel moon-style hands, three subsidiary dials indicating date, day and constant seconds, in circular engine-turned case, the sunburst decorated hinged back centred by a circular cartouche with engraved initials JG, surmounted by laurel wreath canopy, calendar correctors underneath the bezel, repeating through the pendant, case numbered and stamped PBT for Pierre Benjamin Tavernier, cuvette signed Lépine and numbered 6127, dial signed Lépine
    59 mm. diam.

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    The present watch and its exceptionally rare double virgule escapement is described and illustrated in Cecil Clutton's A Rare Lepine Watch, Antiquarian Horology, June 1967, pp. 242 & 243. Copies of this article will be delivered with the watch. According to Mr. Clutton, only three examples of watches fitted with the double virgule escapement are known to exist to date, the present watch, a small crystal-cased watch in the Ilbert collection and an eight-day skeleton watch in the collection of Dr. Sobek in Vienna.

    The double virgule, an exceedingly rare variation of the virgule escapement, was invented around 1752 by Pierre Augustin Caron (1732-1799), a French watch and clockmaker and the brother-in-law of Jean Antoine Lépine. Caron was also an accomplished musician and playwriter, better known under the name of Beaumarchais, the author of "The Barber of Sevilla" and "Le Mariage de Figaro".

    The virgule escapement, first devised by Lepaute but largely used by Lépine, is a variety of the cylinder escapement. Caron introduced a further set of pins to the opposite side of the escape wheel and an additional impulse curve to the staff. As this feature was extremely difficult to construct, the double virgule escapement was made in very few examples only.

    The watch also features Lépine's repeating mechanism: by depressing the pendant the repeating spring is wound and the hour and quarter racks, mounted on the repeating spring barrel arbor, engage the two hammers that strike hours and quarter hours on blocks inside the case band.

    Its cuvette bears the inscription Lépine Horloger de l'Impératrice et Reine à Paris, based on its date referring to Josephine de Beauharnais, Empress of France and first wife of Napoleon Bonaparte (see lot 233 in this auction).

    For a note on the casemaker Pierre Benjamin Tavernier see the previous lot.


    Described in detail and illustrated in A Rare Lepine Watch by Cecil Clutton, C.B.E., F.S.A., Antiquarian Horology, June 1967, pp. 242 & 243.