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Lépine

Watches with small seconds typically place the subdial opposite the crown or 90º clockwise from it. Since the 19th century, these locations have been known as “Lépine” (opposite the crown) or Savonnette (90º). This reflects the heritage of movement design, though Jean-Antoine Lépine's classic movement did not specifically place small seconds opposite the stem.

Details

Lépine revolutionized watch design with his plate and bridge concept, and most movements developed in the 19th century used this approach. Because most pocket watches were hung from a chain, it was common to attach this to a bow on a stem attached at 12:00 on the dial. It was most harmonious on such a watch to locate the small seconds subdial at 6:00. Because these watches used Lépine's movement, this orientation (with the small seconds opposite the stem) became known by his name.

In contrast, a so-called savonnette watch was designed to be held in the hand with the stem against the thumb, so the movement was rotated 90º. Thus, the small seconds remained at 6:00 but the stem was now off-axis at 3:00. This design would later be called hunter as watches with a flip-up cover were typically also oriented in this way.

In modern wristwatches, Lépine placement of the small seconds subdial is rare, since it would fall at 9:00 on the dial if the crown is placed at 3:00. The savonnette or hunter arrangement places the small seconds subdial at 6:00 on a wristwatch, which is seen as a more harmonious design.

Today, it is mostly chronograph movements that place the small seconds subdial at 9:00. This includes the Breitling B01 family, ETA 2094 and 7750 family, Seiko 6S family, and exotic movements like the Audemars Piguet 2885 and 2889, Bulgari 318/328/388, and Parmigiani Fleurier PF335. Classic Lépine chronograph designs include Landeron (39 family, 48 family, and 71 family), Martel, Minerva, Universal Genéve (281 family), Valjoux (7730 and 7740, 23/72 family), and Venus (150 family, 175 family, 188/210 family).

Some time-only movements also use a Lépine arrangement. Examples include the Zenith Elite 650/680, the rare Seiko 8L34 and 9S63, and time-only movements based on the ETA 7750 including Naoya Hida's NH Type 1.

See Also

lepine.txt · Last modified: 03.05.2022 16:40 by gerdlothar

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