La manufacture

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As a prestigious and historic clock brand, L’Epée enjoys the high reputation of its exclusive Manufacture. Respecting its long tradition, each L’Epée clock is made by experienced watchmakers. Nowadays, its production facilities are integrated in Swiza SA Manufacture.

Founded in 1904, Swiza SA Manufacture is the most important Swiss Manufacture for clocks. It produces high-end Swiss Made timepieces under the brands L’Epée, Matthew Norman and Swiza as well as for prestigious international companies.

The know-how has been built throughout the years and over more than 100 years. The innovations have marked the history of the Manufacture. In 1918, the launch of the alarm bell "Levtoi 'was an international success with its ??1-day mechanical movement. In 1959, an 8-day mechanical movement is designed. In 1976, the first quartz clocks are sold and eight years later, in 1984, the Manufacture began producing its own Swiza Swiss Made quartz movements. This line of quartz movements will be enriched regularly up to the launch in 2010 of the surprising caliber 33 in 4Hz with a perpetual calendar device . The integration of the Matthew Norman company in the Manufacture, brings in 1991 its extensive know-how and technology particularly in terms of mechanical movements for carriage clocks. In 2008, the prestigious L’Epée brand adds to the expertise of Swiza SA Manufacture. The long experience of L’Epée for mechanical developments, including its platform escapements, will help push the boundaries of the watchmaking engineering and realize exceptional technological innovations.

 

For example, are created:
- In 2010 a 40-day mechanical caliber with a Power Reserve displayed with 2 crossed swords and a complication particularly sought after by watch lovers, the Double Retrograde second.


 

- In 2011 a Perpetual Calendar added to that special caliber.

Today, more than 11 engineers and technicians contribute to the product development. The Manufacture has a capacity to carry large volumes. But it has also a production structure for small quantities ranging from single pieces to a few dozens pieces corresponding to specific requests for rare and precious clocks.

Swiza SA Manufacture is in Delémont in the Swiss Jura canton. It works closely with local sub-contractors for assembly and production of its clocks.


The Manufacture creates clocks with its own movements but also with movements available on the market.


Swiza SA as a subcontractor provides all the skills of its Manufacture for specific needs of its customers. Its long experience makes it the Swiss clock leader in Private Label.

 

 
  • THE MECHANICAL MANUFACTURE MOVEMENTS: With a  8-day or 40-day power reserve

 

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Caliber 2010


Caliber 2011


Caliber 1750 (A)


 

 Caliber 1881


Caliber 1752


Caliber 1742



Caliber 1754 A


Caliber 1754


Caliber 1853




Caliber 1910 Caliber 1754 SK2 Caliber 1789

 

 

 

Respecting closely the long-time tradition, each part of a L’Epée clock is made by hand, by experienced clockmakers. Only top class materials are used, especially polished brass which gives the clock its shine and weight, as well as bevelled glass. The beauty of L’Epée clocks is enhanced by highly polished cases and dials, lacquer adornments and stained glass sides. Each clock is protected by a varnish, contributing to its great look with a gold or rhodium coating. 

L’Epée Clocks are equipped with beautiful mechanical movements which can be viewed through the glass sides and tops. All parts of the movement are polished and coated with the exception of the steel parts. 

A L’Epée Clock contains up to 300 parts in solid brass or steel, requiring 2000 manufacturing process. No wonder, the clockmakers are highly qualified craftsmen producing outstanding masterpieces of traditional Swiss clockmaking art. 

L’Epée is more than ever active on top-quality mechanical movements stemming from a close alliance between its own hand-crafted production methods and the most advanced manufacturing techniques.

Respecting its long tradition of craftmanship and the Arts and passion placed in the realisation of a l'Epée clock,  l'Epée has decided to open the door of its fully integrated Manufacture site through the following pages.

 

SUMMARY POINTS

  •  SWIZA S.A. Manufacture is a genuine manufacture, that means the company designs and produces its timepieces in an integrated way:
 

  Mastery of the product conception

  • Design by well known designers

  • Conception and production of prototypes

  • Evaluation of production costs

 

   

 Mastery of the industrial process

  •  Modern equipment with CAD
  • Technical set-up and detailed technical drawings
 

   

 Mastery of the production

  • Full production from raw material to the endpiece
  • Machining centers and modern turning CNC equipments
  • Polishing centers and laquerwork, …
  • Network of subcontractors for specialities (like galvanisation…)

 
 
 

 

Mastery of the end-product assembling

  • Capacity to assemble all the components
  • With the Swiza Swiss made quartz movements (or other movements according to the needs)
  • Granting the Swiss Made label to your clocks

 

 

 

 

 

 

Le Duel Production Process

All about the hand-made, traditional production of an exceptional timepiece...

Inside the Art of a Swiss Clock Manufacturer

 

 


 

 

 All about the hand- made, traditional production of an exceptional timepiece… 

 

L’Epée 1839 relives the fascination of a swashbuckling historical romance, by the magic of a double animation of duel with swords. This new animation, which is a Power-Reserve Indicator, is to be used as the L’Epée brand signature. As the first complication was not enough, the Double Retrograde Second depicts two crossed swords keeping step with time for 20 seconds before returning instantly to the “en garde” position. This clock therefore offers to observers a fascinating visual fencing display.

The purpose of this article is to demonstrate the art and passion the L’Epée 1839 brand place in the production of its products family named “LE DUEL”. Respecting closely the long-time tradition, each part of a L’Epée clock is made by hand, by experienced clockmakers. Only top class materials are used, especially polished brass which gives the clock its shine and weight. The beauty of L’Epée clocks is enhanced by highly polished cases and dials, lacquer adornments and glass sides. Each clock is protected by a varnish, contributing to its great look with a gold or rhodium coating.

L’Epée 1839 Clocks are equipped with beautiful mechanical movements which can be viewed through the glass sides and tops. All parts of the movement are polished and coated with the exception of the steel parts. A L’Epée 1839 Clock contains up to 600 parts in solid brass or steel, requiring over 4000 manufacturing process. No wonder, the clockmakers are highly qualified craftsmen producing outstanding masterpieces of traditional Swiss clockmaking art.

L’Epée 1839 is more than ever active on top-quality mechanical movements stemming from a close alliance between its own hand-crafted production methods and the most advanced manufacturing techniques.

 

The first step in the development of a L’Epée timepiece is the design. the design is made in house or in collaboration with well-known designers

 



 

L’EPEE LE DUEL - DESIGN


Each L’Epee clock fits within the history and the value of the brand. The design process is crucial in the life of a product as it will directly lead to its success. Each L’Epée 1839 product is designed with in mind specific codes. They express the identity of the brand and they respond to customer needs by matching their aspirations and values.

Once the codes have been listed and explained to the designer, the design work begins. It always starts by hand-made sketches. A set of drawings is made for each important aspect of the clock. For example, the general form of the case, the hands, the dial…

The final sketches are selected to pursue the design. Even if it looks simple, this selection step can take up to 12 iterations before the final choice is made. When all those sketches are selected, the final design-work can start. First by hand, then on a special computer program and then in 3D. All the details are reviewed. The shapes, the types of material, the finishing of each part, the coating. And the reflection is made on each part to find out if a polished finish is chosen on some components… or the way light is acting within the moving parts…

All those steps can take more than a year before the design fulfills all the high expectations of the  Manufacture L’Epée.

 

 

 

All the L’Epée products are engineered with the most advanced 3D construction softwares

 


 

          

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3D engineering allows L’Epee Team to push back the limits of technology. 3D engineering is the key to design a highly complicated product. It allows the team to have a better comprehensive view of the moving parts, of the penetration of the wheels, of the constraints and solutions in the manufacturing. L’Epée 1839 uses also an in-house design tool to simulate the shape of the teeth of each wheel and to calculate the pressure they will handle.

The power reserve can be calculated with this specially designed tool. And the barrel spring as well as the escapement can be adapted to reach the goal fixed by the marketing team. All the L’Epée 1839 clocks and all the complications are developed using the 3D modeling to insure that all the parts can be manufactured and to allow long lasting life to the timepiece.


 

 

 

 

 

 

From sketches to real parts, a long journey within the Manufacture

 

 

 

 

 

L’Epée timepieces are made out of solid pieces of metal such as brass or aluminium

 



Nowadays, a clock is no longer only a timepiece. Its primary function is not anymore to give time but to be an extension of the owner. A clock is typically an ornament piece that states in his living room the refined taste of its owner. The clock expresses the personality of its owner. So its quality and its look are very important. For a better aspect of the clock, the sheet of metal needs to be laminated. The cutting process needs attention and preparation to avoid scratches and other defects.

 

 

 

L’Epée products require the best and most modern way of manufacturing parts

 


 
 

 

 

Unlike for watches, the parts in a L’Epée clock are large but they have to be as precise as the watch ones.

There are different sorts of machine operations to realize such parts:

Drilling is used to create a round hole and is accomplished by a rotating tool that has typically  two or four cutting edges.

In turning, a cutting tool with a single cutting edge is used to remove material from a rotating workpiece to generate a cylindrical shape.

In boring, the tool is used to enlarge an already available hole. It is a fine finishing operation used in the final stages of the production process.

In milling, a rotating tool with multiple cutting edges is moved slowly relative to the material to generate a plane or straight surface. The speed motion is provided by the rotating milling cutter. The two basic forms of milling are Peripheral milling and Face milling.

 

Once the modeling is done on the 3D CAD software, the model can then be incorporated in the 3D CAD machine to optimize the milling of each part. All the parts need to be nicely adjusted and all the details such as non concentricity, ovality or plating thickness need to be taken into account to reach the level of precision required by the L’Epée products. Large and precise CNC machines are needed to mill and form all the details of each piece. There are many kinds of machine operations, each of which can generate a certain part geometry and surface texture. L’Epée is using the best of these techniques.

All the milling tools have a special cycle quality program to ensure that the level of precision needed over the range of displacement is still within control (SPCs). A large portfolio of machines is required to be able to manufacture all the details that compose all the clock’s parts. As the final assembly of a L’Epée Clock has to be perfect.

 

 

 

L’Epée Clock are known worldwide for the quality of their polishing

 

 


 

Polishing is typically one of the challenge for large pieces. The difficulties of reaching a perfect surface are exponential to the extent of the surface.

It is well known in horology that the polishing is a hard process to control and it is even harder when parts become heavy and large.

It takes 3 to 4 years of education for a polisher to reach the level of knowledge for polishing large pieces without changing the original dimensions of the piece.

L’Epée products are well known for their high standard of quality and the beauty of their decorations.

 In the L’Epée wide collection, lots of different decorations can be seen. The finishing of those decorations are up to the highest standard in horology.

 The most common ones are:

  • The fine polishing (which is also one of the hardest one)
  • The Côtes de Genève decoration (for which special tool and process have to be developed because of the size of the L’Epée clock components.)
  • The pearls etc…

  And they are all mastered by the L’Epée Team.

 

 

 

The most advanced technique of metrology is used to ensure the quality of the L’Epée masterpieces

 


   

 

Very demanding tests are conducted to satisfy the high requirements of L’Epèe. Once the parts have been manufactured for a L’Epée product, they go through several tests such as dimensions, visual aspect and composition.

Different equipments are needed to measure the tolerances of each piece that composes the clock. For the most complex ones, visual programmable automatic equipment is used to ensure capabilities and precision. 

For the simplest ones, the basic metrology equipment is used. And when needed, L’Epée is sub-contracting to specific labs the testing of the parts such as measuring the thickness of the different layers of plating through the scanning election microscope (SEM).

 

 

 

L’Epée movements are assembled by Master watchmakers

who have gained a long experience in adjusting sophisticated mechanical movements

 



 

 

The assembly of L’Epee movements is carried out by the Master watchmakers with a long experience. A L’Epée Clock movement contains more than 600 parts in solid brass or steel, needing 4000 manufacturing processes. No wonder, the clockmakers are highly qualified craftsmen producing real masterpieces of traditional Swiss clockmaking art.

Each movement is fully assembled by one watchmaker from the beginning to the end. The same watchmaker will also add on it the complication. He will also be in charge for adjusting all the parts to ensure a perfect fit.

 

 

 

 

Each movement is fully assembled by one Master watch maker from the beginning to the end.

The assembly process is a long step beginning by the assembly of the wheel to the axis and finishing by the adjusting of the penetration of the teeth within each wheel.

Once assembled and finally adjusted, each movement is controlled (Amplitude and Marche) and placed in running-in mode for 8 days. Then the movement is retested and shall fit within the range of performance dedicated to the specific caliber. If it does not reach it, then it goes back to a second watchmaker to rework it before going back to the same test.

Once approved, the movement is going to be fitted with the hands and will be tested for its power reserve. At the end of those 8 days, the movement will be embedded within the clock case and retested for its power reserve.

 

 

 

All L’Epée Clocks are subject to

a series of technical testsand visual inspection to verify their accuracy and integrity

 

To ensure zero defects for its end products, all the L’Epée Clocks are going through series of technical tests and visual inspection. As a clock is much more than just a good movement embedded in a case, many demanding tests are implemented to ensure the quality of the movement and of the clock.

Once the movement is assembled and tested as such, it is embedded within the clock case. Once this step is completed, a new series of technical tests and visual inspection are made to verify the rate accuracy, the power reserve, the amplitude and the overall appearance.

 

 

 

 

To ensure the best performance to its clocks, L’Epée 1839 has developed series of technical tests on the movement itself as well as on the finished clock. A L’Epée 1839 clock is not delivered before having successfully passed all the L’Epée quality requirements.

The accuracy of a clock is important. It is determined by the regularity of its amplitude. A clock that is fast or slow is considered precise as long as its amplitude regularity is constant. The advance or delay can be easily corrected. 

 

 

 

L’EPEE LE DUEL - FONCTIONS


The 2 cross swords are the signature and emblem of the l’Epée brand. Therefore in Le Duel collection, the presented complications are resolved at the tip of the sword. In fencing, the symbolism of swords that cross is highlighted by the "En garde” high position at the beginning of the fight and the “Surrender” bottom position at the end of the duel.

 


Double Retrograde Second


                                                                                         

                                                                                                   

 

At 12 o’clock is the animation of the Double Retrograde Second. The 2 swords keep pace with the seconds: they cross swords and depart over a period of  20 seconds to bounce back to the "En garde" position.

 

The Power-Reserve Indicator

The Power-Reserve Indicator can be seen at 6 o’clock. It is at its maximum when the two swords cross to form the logo of the brand. When they separate, the angle between the swords opens gradually and after 40 days of autonomy, it is time to surrender! The logo has been reversed and the 2 swords are pointing down.