Famous watchmakers

Jean Antoine Lépine

1720 - 1814

Jean Antoine Lépine

French clockmaker.

Clockmaker to Louis XV, Louis XVI and Napoleon I.

Son-in-law of André Charles Caron.

Associated with his father-in-law between 1756 and 1769.

Technical director of Voltaire's workshops circa 1770.

Handed over his business to his son-in-law in 1783.

Key dates

Around 1770

Invented the Lépine calibre: characterised by the abandonment of the two-disk cage, replaced by only one on which all moving parts were maintained by independent bridges, the removal of the fusee and its chain and the progressive introduction of the cylinder escapement. Amongst other things, this calibre reduced the thickness of watches. Rapidly adopted in France in particular, its design is still used in all mechanical watches today.

NB: the Lépine watch is a pocket watch in which the second wheel is placed in the axis of the winder shaft, in opposition to the Savonnette watch where the second wheel and winder shaft are placed on perpendicular axes.

Around 1780

Improvement of Jean-André Lepaute's virgule escapement. Thanks to Jean Antoine Lépine, it would be used for some twenty yeas or so in France.

Invented a new repetition construction.

Invented a winding system requiring no key.

Invented "lost hinge" watchcases (invisible).

The first clockmaker to have continued work on aesthetic design, in the modern meaning of the word, on watches.