Lepine a Paris

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Jean-Antoine Lépine was amongst the finest of the French watchmakers whose inventions are still used in the industry to this day. Having first worked under the direction of Mr. Decrose in Geneva, he moved to Paris in 1744, aged 24, where he served his apprenticeship under André-Charles Caron (1698.1775), at that time clockmaker to Louis XV. In 1756 he married to Caron's daughter with an associated business 'Caron et Lépine' running until 1769.

By 1765 he was made Master and appointed Horloger du Roi (Clockmaker to the King) Louis XV. The following year he succeeded Caron, with his address being Rue Saint Denis, Place Saint Eustache. From 1772 Lépine moved a number of times before finally settling at 12 Place des Victoires in 1789.

In 1782, his daughter Pauline married one of his workmen, Claude-Pierre Raguet, and Lépine set up a partnership with him, handing over control of the business ten years later. Raguet died in 1810 at which point the business was sold to J. B. Chapuy who employed Lepine's nephew Jacques Lépine who had been appointed clockmaker to the King of Westfalia (Germany) in 1809.

Lépine died in May 1814 at his home of Rue St. Anne in Paris.

In 1827 the business was sold to Deschamp who was succeeded, in 1832, by Fabre.

Jean-Antoine Lépine was a very influential horologist, indeed the great Abraham-Louis Brequet used Lépine.s thin calibre movements, the 'Lépine calibre' or 'calibre à pont', throughout his career. Consequently this style of movement as invented by Lépine became the type on which most modern mechanical watch movements are now based. He was not only a fine watchmaker, but also made stunning clocks housed in exceptional cases, a number of which are housed in major museums worldwide.

In November of 1788 ex-President of America George Washington asked Gouvernor Morris, who had offered to act as his agent in Europe, to obtain for him a watch from Paris stating: 'I wish to have a good gold watch procured for my own use; not a small, trifling, nor finically ornamented one, but a watch well executed in point of workmanship, and of about the size and kind of that which was procured by Mr. (Thomas) Jefferson for Mr. (James) Madison, which was large and flat. I imagine Mr. Jefferson can give you the best advice on the subject, as I am told this species of watches, which I have described, can be found cheaper and better fabricated in Paris than in London'.

Some three months later Morris wrote to George Washington from Paris stating that the pocket watch he received through his emissary in Paris was from 'Mr. Lépine, who is at the Head of his Profession here, and in Consequence asks more for his Work than any Body else. I therefore waited on Mr. Lépine and agreed with him for two Watches exactly alike, one of which be for you and the other for me.'

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Four Colour Gold French Verge Pocket Watch
An 18th Century French verge by Lepine in a decorative four colour gold stone set consular case. Full plate gilt fusee movement. Finely pierced a...
Pieces of Time