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Ovale Tourbillon Four Quarters Engraved by L’Epée 1839

by Hours and Minutes Australia

To mark the 180th anniversary of L’Epée 1839, the Manufacture unveils a traditional clock, a one-off piece, in honor of its heritage as a great manufacturer of officers’ carriage clocks. As well as a central hours and minutes display, this clock from the Ovale collection possesses numerous complications: tourbillon, moon phase, alarm, calendar (Day and Month), and even strikes the quarter-hours!

To further enhance this exceptional piece, L’Epée 1839 commissioned the hand-engraving of the entire case. Two types of engraving (in positive and negative relief) are combined to form an abstract pattern that decorates the whole case with style.

This unique piece displays the hours and minutes on a white enamel dial. The two hands reproduce the shapes historically used for officers’ carriage clocks. The moon phase display, at six o’clock, presents the lunar cycles. The day and month displays and the alarm function are located on the lower part of the case front.

The ringing of the alarm is controlled by a dedicated barrel enabling the alarm to be regulated as desired. It produces its own characteristic, powerful tone.

The tourbillon crowned with swords can be admired through a glass window revealing the impressive width of the balance wheel and its characteristic rhythm of 2.5 Hz, or 18,000 vibrations per hour.

The clock has a power reserve of 8 days, and is endowed with the special feature of striking the quarter-hours. The double gong (with independent spring barrel) strikes the hours with one gong stroke, the first quarter with a double stroke, the half hour with two double strokes and the last quarter with three double strokes. An on/off selector is located on the top of the clock, so that the strikes can be silenced as desired. A single key is used to set the time and wind the spring barrels, which are accessed by opening the glass door in the back of the clock.

The Ovale Tourbillon Four Quarters is a unique gilded piece made up of 433 parts, supplied in a traditional leather case with a window, as was usual for the era, enabling the time to be read while traveling. History relates that the officer’s clock was so named because Napoleon, the supreme commander of the armies, required his generals to carry a clock on all battlefields after suffering a defeat caused by the late arrival of some of his troops.

For nearly two centuries, L’Epée 1839 has been creating mechanical clocks, many of which have been given as gifts to the great names of this world. Many well-known personalities have given and/or received the gift of an officer’s carriage clock made by L’Epée 1839.



The masters of micro-sculpture, over long hours of dexterity, which only human hand is able to create, allow to design and produce forms in volume; it could be in low-relief, relief in hollow, high relief or in ronde-bosse, by modelling, in direct carving, in hollow or in relief.


The bas-relief is a sculpture or modelling projecting on a background to which it belongs and by which it is detached more or less. The peculiarity of the bas-relief is to present only low relief. The subject is represented feebly from the bottom.

Used in watches, jewelry and silverware the bas-relief shows extremely fine reliefs sometimes reaching only a few tenths of a millimeter thick (or even only a tenth of a millimeter) on medals, cameos and some watches. This embodiment thus requires a mastery of the art as it is difficult to give a natural look to a figure that has very little thickness in proportion to its height and width. And it is even more difficult to form groups, since we cannot have different grounds away from each other as in the painting. A depth effect can still be created by a simulated perspective, decreasing sizes of characters or decorative elements. 

Relief in hollow

The technique of relief is to create volumes by digging depth. The most salient parties normally are carved deeply. It has been widely used by the ancient Egyptians. It also has the advantage of “hook” the light and is often preferred to other techniques for reliefs exposed to daylight. 

Glyptic or intaglio

It represents the carving in hollow in the mass, originally in a massive stones. In an intaglio, nothing is raised above the original plan.

Unlike cameos, which are generally figurative, intaglios have either decor or inscriptions, arms or monograms.

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