L’Epée 1839 takes us behind the wheel of the Time Fast. This vintage-inspired race car and a modern clock in one is a kinetic sculpture that tells the time.
It was designed by Georg Foster, a promising young newcomer and a major contributor to this second collaboration between ECAL (Ecole Cantonale d’art de Lausanne) and the Swiss manufacture.
The piece features a number of eye-catching details, such as the long protruding engine hood, the typical 1950s radiator grill, the large spoked wheels, the driving seat positioned to the rear and the sloping back section. Its overall sporty feel is reinforced by its elegant design, flawless finishes and fluid lines.
The name of the Time Fast D8 clearly conveys its technical aspirations, incorporating a motor that can last eight days—or rather an in-house caliber with a 192-hour power reserve beating at 18,000 vibrations per hour.
This kinetic sculpture displays the hours and minutes like a race number, allowing the time to be easily read on the side of the chassis. A figure sits in the cockpit, where a glass dome, or rather a driver’s helmet, highlights the thrumming escapement. In front of him is the steering wheel, which adopts the three-spoke design typically seen in race cars, serving to set the time.
Meanwhile, in a subtle nod to childhood memories, the mechanical motor is wound just like a pull-back car.
With 289 ultra-precise mechanical components finished with the greatest care, Time Fast promises its owner nothing but pure pleasure and sensations. Measuring 38cm long, 16cm wide and 12cm high and weighing just 4.7kg, this race car is by no means lacking in stature and could easily have come straight from one of the greatest motorsports stables.
Design & Inspiration: For all generations, classic ’50s cars are firmly ingrained in the collective subconscious and imagination. Single-seaters boasting a sleek design, fluid lines and assertive aerodynamics, they fuel many a dream.
Time Fast, which was designed by Georg Foster while he was a master’s student at ECAL, draws inspiration from a dream of becoming a race driver, or simply the desire to experience the thrills of speed. To create this realistically proportioned mechanical sculpture, he drew on his childhood memories to add symbols and representations, such as boards, bodywork and steering wheels.
A fan of motorsport, Georg remembers the typical sound of the smoldering engines and the metallic clicking that follows a mad race, almost echoing the tick-tock of Time Fast D8’s escapement.
The shaping and production were entirely entrusted to the manufacture’s passionate teams, predominantly comprised of automotive enthusiasts. With the exception of the raw aluminum casting, the crystals and the jewels, which are sourced from elsewhere, every piece has passed through the hands of the 20 or so experts within the L’Epée 1839 workshops.
Automotive and Horological Functions: In motor racing, it’s well known that although the driver is the only one to be first over the finish line, his entire team helps to make this victory possible by achieving the impossible. What applies to the track also applies to life as a whole. The teams of designers, engineers and watchmakers, therefore, embraced the challenge of producing an exceptional and unique clock incorporating all the elements of a race car. Every detail has been carefully considered to intimately interlink form and function to spark a renewed fascination for kinetic sculptures.
The engine consists of a tiered movement with an eight-day power reserve that was entirely developed to hug the curves of the bodywork.
The hours and minutes are displayed on the side through an aperture resembling a typical competition number, via two engraved stainless steel disks. On the other side of the chassis is the advertising spot, the characteristic circle on iconic race cars, which can be optionally customized to create a personalized car, by means of an engraving, for example (the L’Epée 1839 logo comes as standard).
In the cockpit, the car’s steering wheel, which has been specially designed to incorporate the time-setting wheel, can be used to adjust the time if the engine ever breaks down. Located in the driver’s seat, a counterclockwise adjustment adjusts the time, while clockwise adjustment can be used to reposition the steering wheel once the correct time is set.
Time Fast D8 needs to be filled up (with mechanical energy) once every week. The mechanical movement’s barrel is wound by moving the wheels in reverse to provide the car with the power it requires to remain fully functional. Meanwhile, drive mode is simply designed to provide unimpeded delight.
The Car’s Structure: Just like a normal-sized car, Time Fast D8 is formed of solid aluminum body parts, as well as components as small as an escapement wheel (measuring just a few millimeters across). But here, each part is individually and impeccably finished, whether decorated, polished, satin-finished or sand-blasted by hand.
L’Epée 1839 presents an interpretation of the car where the human being, symbolized by the escapement, is placed at the heart of the car. Safely installed and protected by a glass dome (the helmet), it sets the pace, just like a driver regulating the power of the engine.
The movement’s plates form the chassis. Each has been designed with great attention to detail, symbolizing, for instance, the engine block of old race cars. As if to cool the motor constantly running at 18,000 vibrations per hour, the radiator grill is openworked to reveal the manufacturer’s emblem. A dual exhaust provides one final nod to the automotive world.
Particular attention has been paid to the four wheels, whose spoked rims are wrapped in soft rubber for greater grip, providing excellent transmission of power during winding.