“We design a brand new motion for each single piece,” says CEO of L’Epée Arnaud Nicolas on how he conceptualises his design concepts. “Mixing mechanics and artwork” Arnaud usually takes inspiration from unlikely sources together with the automotive world of sport racing and traditional vehicles. Arnaud speaks to LUXUO on future model collaborations, his upcoming exhibition on the Singapore Watch Fair 2023 and a stunning anecdote on how L’Epée was carefully related to the marriage of Prince Charles (now Kings Charles III) and the late Girl Diana in 1981.
When did you first get fascinated about watchmaking and the way did you develop into the pinnacle of this very distinctive Maison, L’Epée based mostly in Delémont?
I at all times have been interested in every thing that was mechanics. Automotive engines, watches, instruments, virtually every thing which have motions. And once I was a child I broke my mechanical watches that I had for my sixth birthday, I used to be round seven if I recollect it proper. So this was the primary time I noticed a watch mechanical motion — that was once I began to love them and prefer to dismount them. However as I really like sciences generally, I studied science and bought a grasp diploma in science and engineering. I didn’t undergo the “conventional” watchmaking course of. After beginning working within the house business for a few decade, I purchased out L’Epée with the thought of producing new design kinetic items of artwork. And that is how the story began. In 2009.
L’Epée was based in 1839 – but it is without doubt one of the most revolutionary watchmakers by way of design and horological improvements right this moment. Inform us extra about this intriguing paradox?
L’Epée as you mentioned is without doubt one of the oldest watchmaking model within the watch business that had by no means stopped. The manufacturing was by no means stopped however simply since you are an outdated model with a powerful historical past that doesn’t imply you can’t be revolutionary. Most individuals assume that DNA is concerning the form of hand and dials or case form. For me DNA is rather more than that. L’Epée has at all times been within the forefront of watchmaking. L’Epée has at all times been an un-calculus variety of patent in its historical past and has bought a few very attention-grabbing rewards. Just like the Worldwide gold award that’s given by scientist to an organization that has made a significant step in a area. And L’Epée has bought six of them. I have no idea an organization that has any.
So to make an extended story brief. L’Epée has at all times been on the forefront of watchmaking and has at all times proven its mechanics by way of home windows as a proof of its high quality. We merely use this ethos, and for me this can be a true DNA, to launch a brand new line. The Inventive Artwork line. On this line we make kinetics items of artwork that takes time to craft to ship new creations which might be out of the field. However that is what each engineer is doing when creating a brand new invention. We simply apply this thought course of to our “out of the field” designs.
You said “an inventive piece ought to shock, evoke or encourage individuals”, is that this your each day mantra at L’Epée?
Sure that is our mantra. To do a chunk that expresses a message. Doing one thing surprising however with a message. In addition to being good, a chunk of artwork has just one objective: to make the individuals assume. And there are 3 ways of doing it. By inspiring, evoking and even surprising. However no matter the best way, the message is what’s crucial.
Arnaud Nicolas and Max Büsser: inform us about your preliminary encounter with Max and the primary creation which ensued, The “Starfleet Machine”?
Max and I’ve been pals for a very long time and as I used to be doing one thing new and surprising for the 175th anniversary to implement inside my new line, Max was trying additionally to do one thing surprising. This was the right match. We had been each trying into the identical path for the product and we each have the identical philosophy by way of what a partnership is and the way we prefer to deal with our clients. In reality we now have a really shut philosophy on this matter, that it appears evident to begin doing one thing collectively. That is how the primary items began and why we now have continued to make new as soon as.
Are extra collaborations deliberate forward with MB&F?
Sure we’re making loads of collaborations. MB&F is one in all them however it might even be the one which I spoke probably the most about, which is nice. Should you look into what we now have made these final 14 years, you will see that loads of names.
Has L’Epée absolutely blurred the differentiation between watchmaking and artwork?
That is what many individuals are saying. On my facet I would like to say that watchmaking is a part of the artwork and we now have simply went one step additional by remodeling it in 3D.
Amongst L’Epée’s hottest fashions is the Arachnophobia, which boasts a surprising spider-shaped motion with an intricate net of gears and elements. Is that this one in all your most advanced creations?
Truly, that is the alternative. The Arachnophobia is without doubt one of the most straightforward fashions we now have made. The Time Quick or the Time Quick II are a lot rather more advanced fashions.
The L’Epée 1839 timepiece is designed to appear like an intricate grenade and capabilities as a conventional desk clock. How did this somewhat daring design thought come to life?
These design normally involves my thoughts when I’m quiet at night time. I love to do my artistic work at night time when everyone seems to be asleep. I discover my inspiration by way of every thing that surrounds us. It may be an object or a movie or a form… and from then the method of creation begins with step one is what do I wish to specific with that creation. What’s the story I wish to inform, the message I wish to present… Which is the precise reverse of what everybody else is doing. Normally the undertaking begins with a motion that’s properly engineered and produced in huge amount, then the designer comes and builds up a case and the sides or “housing” round it and it involves the advertising and marketing workforce to construct up a narrative to have the ability to promote the item. What we’re doing is simply the alternative. We begin with the story after which we do the engineering of the motion similtaneously the housing which permit us to combine kind and performance, and to keep away from any compromise. We do not need an enormous field inside that we now have to work with. We design a brand new motion for each single piece.
Now we have many readers who’re captivated with traditional vehicles. Inform us extra about the Time Quick II creation?
Time Quick II is an distinctive object. Time Quick II is impressed by racing sports activities vehicles of the Sixties, a golden period of long-distance automotive competitors. The title Time Quick II references the truth that it’s a 2-seater automotive, has two actions (one for time and one for the engine automate), racing vehicles are getting quicker, fashionable time appears to be working quicker, and it’s L’Epée’s second automotive impressed clock. After I say L’Epée 1839 likes to combine kind and performance, the Time Quick II is an efficient instance as everyone knows about vehicles, so it is possible for you to to determine by your self how far we’re going.
To begin with, the ground and physique are screwed to a H-chassis as of their full-sized counterparts. The physique of Time Quick II is in aluminum as a result of within the Sixties, aluminum was the high-tech materials for racing vehicles as carbon fiber is right this moment. An aluminum physique on a race automotive affords the next power-to-weight ratio, shorter braking distances, and quicker cornering: all profitable attributes in a sports activities automotive. Then the physique is colored with the official color of the nation of teat period. British racing inexperienced for nice Britain, silver for the German ones, crimson for the Italian, blue for the French.
Hours and minutes are displayed by rotating chrome steel disks on the air filters feeding the twin carburetor banks on high of the engine. The 8-day motion is regulated by a visual 2.5 Hertz escapement within the “driver’s helmet” and powered by a mainspring seen within the passenger’s “seat”.
Why inserting the escapement because the mind of the motive force, just because it’s the driver that give the precision of the automotive whereas it isn’t the proprietor that give the precision of the watch however the escapement. Then, subsequent to the steering wheel on a dashboard there may be normally a key to begin the engine. On our automotive, turning the dashboard key begins the engine, triggering the pistons of the V8 to go up and down. The piston been positioned just under the time show.
Now we have named our automotive Time Quick 2 for a number of causes. First as a result of it’s our second automotive, subsequent as a result of it’s a two-seated automotive but additionally as a result of there may be two actions in it. One for the time show and the second for the V8 automaton. One other element that we are able to discover on virtually each automotive of this period: the gear stage selector. A handbook gear lever selects between winding the time motion, winding the engine automate or impartial. And the Winding is completed by choosing the suitable gear — and as once I was a child, I grew up with out the digital automotive however solely with the mechanical toy automotive — we set the system to rewind the automotive throughout the wheels to rework it as a pull again automotive. You rewind the automotive by pulling the automotive backwards because the automotive of your childhood.
And simply to spotlight how a lot meticulous consideration to element L’Epée put into making certain that Time Quick II is as correct as potential to the vehicles that impressed it, the chrome steel spoked wheel rims are crafted identical to the true racing wheels had been within the Sixties. The tires are in tender rubber for optimum grip when winding the actions and stuffed with a fastidiously chosen foam compound in order that the tires are barely flat on the underside to the identical diploma as actual sport’s automotive racing tires on an actual automotive racing tracks.
L’Epée shall be exhibiting on the Singapore Watch Truthful 2023, which thrilling creation(s) will you current there?
We may have a pleasant number of items. I don’t wish to disclose all of them as we would like everybody to be stunned however we may have two totally different clocks impressed from two totally different sport racing vehicles.
What’s deliberate for L’Epée throughout 2024?
We are going to proceed to do what we are attempting to do as finest as we are able to. Stunning individuals with surprising objects.
The place do you see this unimaginable Maison 10 years down the street?
We are going to proceed to do what L’Epée has at all times do. Engaged on making probably the most lovely objects mixing mechanics and artwork. Our objective is to stay unique and to make sure our object maintain worth time beyond regulation.
On a lighter observe, are you able to disclose to our readers how L’Epée was carefully related to the marriage of Prince Charles and Girl Diana in 1981 — fairly an enchanting anecdote?
In reality, L’Epée was chosen to fabricate one of many presents for the marriage visitors. L’Epée was additionally appointed as one of many official suppliers of the English Royal courtroom for the official presents given to the elite visitors that come to go to the royal courtroom of England. And this was for the ten most years that’s allowed by the English royal rule.
Should you had been to call one mentor who has impressed you in your life, who would that be?
My grandfather, however that is one other story a really lengthy one and I do probably not like to talk about myself…
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