L’Epee 1839, historic Swiss watch and clock brand, has teamed with Fiona Kruger Timepieces, independent watch brand, to create one of the most unusual mechanical clocks on the market. Called Vanitas, the skull-shaped clock actually even yawns. Fiona Kruger, designer extraordinaire who works magic with her intricate designs and extraordinary themes, regularly collaborates with artisans and suppliers looking for a creative approach to time. Vanitas is one great example of those collaborations.
Based on a L’Epée 35-day movement with 5 barrels, the Vanitas haute horology clock is a mechanical wonder and brilliant work of art and craftsmanship. The clock’s design – like Fiona Kruger’s first watch collection for her own brand – is inspired by the still-life art genre, Vanitas, that dates back to the 1600’s wherein skulls, candles and other symbolic objects are designed to remind the viewer of the transient nature of life.
Inside the Movement of the Vanitas Clock
The Vanitas clock, designed by Kruger but engineered and crafted by L’Epée 1839, is designed to help celebrate life and time. It features a power reserve indicator that is integrated into the mouth of the skull. As the Vanitas clock loses power, it starts to yawn, indicating it is time to be wound. With 35 days of power reserve, this happens just about once a month. The yawning power reserve required a re-engineering of the clock movement, but offers a bit of delightful whimsy.
The multi-layered bridges of the 400-part skull-shaped movement are intricately detailed and form the design of the skull. In fact, the design of the skull also features two barrels – one for each of the eyes – making the form of the watch a result of the functional design aspects of the movement. Additionally, because the components are larger, finishing them is more complex due to the larger surfaces.
Main Features of the Vanitas Clock
Vanitas is being created in two versions – a dark model and a colourful model — with 50 pieces of each being made. The Dark version features a housing in black anodized aluminium with mineral glass, while the colored version, also wit ha black anodized aluminium housing, features bridges and parts finely finished with bold color.
For both the dark and the colored models, the compoenets aree screen-prtinted with a pattern using gloss ink. The colors used are designed to represent a certain meaning specific to the Dia de Los Muertos celebration: Blue = Trust, White = Purity, Orange = Sun, Yellow = Death, Pink = Celebration, Red = Life and Purple = Grief and Black = Mortality. The clock will retail for $30,000.
L’Epee 1839 and Fiona Kruger
Virtually the only specialized manufacture in Switzerland dedicated to high-end clocks, L’Epee has been at the forefront of horology for more than 175 years. The company owns a large number of patents on special escapements and has created clocks for some of the most prestigious names. It even equipped the Concorde supersonic jet with wall clocks in 1976. Based in the Swiss Jura Mountains, L’Epee more recently unveiled a range of Avant-Garde art clocks as horological sculptures in collaboration with MB&F (Sherman, Starfleet Machine, Arachnophobia, Balthazar). Working with Fiona Krüger Timepieces for the newest clock is an extension of the brand’s modern clock vision.
Fiona Kruger Timepieces are creative interpretations of mechanical watchmaking inspired by her background living in Mexico and her Fine Art and Design training. Kruger was inspired by the themes of time and mortality as figurative and artistic influences in watchmaking centuries ago, and so developed her iconic artistic Skull collection that has made her a real force in the watch world. However, with her keen design sense, we know we will be seeing other impressive themes emerging in Fiona Kruger Timepieces.
VANITAS: Technical Specifications
Hours and minutes
Power reserve indicator
Height: 306 mm
Width: 220 mm
Thickness: 86 mm
Clock Weight: Approx. 5 kg. with 2.2 kg just for the movement.
Mat Housing in Black Anodized Aluminum with mineral glass.
L’Epée in-house designed and manufactured movement
Balance frequency: 18,000 vph / 2.5Hz
Barrels: 5 in series
Power reserve: 35 days
Incabloc shock protection system
Manual-winding on the skull face: Double-ended key to set time and wind movement
50 pieces of each version