Each month we focus on a watch brand that is quietly and efficiently creating quality watches but without the harsh glare of launch publicity afforded to the likes of a brand new Rolex, Jaeger LeCoultre, Omega or Tag Heuer model.
The origins of EPOS Switzerland was established in 1925 by James Aubert, who opened for business in the famed Valle de Joux, still recognised as the heart of the Swiss watchmaking industry.
James Aubert was an enthusiastic mechanical watch engineer who dedicated his life to developing new watch mechanisms. A master engineer, he spent much time and effort developing chronographs and minute repeaters. He had first acquired his skills working as an engineer for the former Swiss mechanical watch movement manufacturers Valjoux and Landeron.
As is a tradition with many Swiss watch brands, Aubert handed the watch company on to a member of the family, his nephew Jean Aubert and his son-in-law, Jean Fillon, who is still the EPOS’ watch engineer-in-chief.
Many complicated watches were created including the jumping hour, the power reserve indication, the big date, the regulator and the regulator with phases of the moon.
The quartz crisis
Come the 1980s and much of the Swiss watch industry ground to a standstill with the introduction of quartz technology that, for a while, threatened to eradicate hundreds of years of Swiss watch technology.
No one wanted to produce mechanical watches any longer except for a few of the most exclusive brands. Several companies went to the wall and valuable equipment and machinery was put on the scrap heap.
Peter Hofer picture courtesy of Tendance Horlogerie
Enter Peter Hofer, a man passionate about mechanical watches, and a long established expert in Swiss watchmaking. He formed Montre EPOS SA IN 1983.
For 20 years Peter Hofer introduced several excellent collections, manufacturing out of Biel and incorporating complicated mechanisms. In 2002 he looked for a successor who shared his passion for mechanical watches and was willing to take over and develop the EPOS business. Ursula Forster, who came from a watchmakers’ family, and her husband Tamdi stepped up to the plate and have succeeded in continuing to produce well designed and reasonably priced watches with plenty of style and flair.
The EPOS watch collection
Today EPOS has a wide range of quality and affordable collections for both men and women.
The gents watches alone are divided into no less than 8 different collections each affording plenty of choice, including a Sportive range, and several elegant collections such as Passion, Sophistiquee, Emotion – incorporating skeleton and moon phase watches, and Perfection which features rectangular cased watches.
The EPOS collection tends to use ETA, Unitas or Valjoux movements cased in stainless steel or with PVD coating in black or rose gold. These are then transformed by the EPOS watchmakers, who add special functions and stunning decorations.
The new creations manufactured in Jean Fillon’s workshop, James Aubert SA, are based on historical vintage movements, which are no longer in production. Once completed, the movement is very carefully decorated, often by hand. Nearly all the EPOS models are equipped with a crystal caseback to allow its owner to admire the work. As a result, EPOS collections are greatly sought after by collectors and watch lovers.
In addition to an extensive collection for ladies, EPOS also make hand wound mechanical pocket watches either with skeleton dials or with a visible balance wheel. EPOS watches represent outstanding value for money.
The entry level wristwatch by EPOS is the EPOS Originale, a dress watch with blued steel Breguet hands and the date at 3-0-clock. It comes with a mechanical self-winding movement ETA 2892-A2, decorated with the “perlage” pattern. See through back. Water resistant to 30m and available at around US$500.
EPOS Passion Regulator
Even a top of the line model such as the EPOS Passion Regulator comes in at a very realistic list price of US$2,450 but can be picked up for less. The regulator dial, previously seen only on large precision clocks, has recently been introduced as a feature on fine luxury watches. On the regulator dial, there is a sub register with the hour hand at twelve, subsidiary seconds at six, and the minutes on the central pinion. This Epos Passion Regulator Automatic is in a 42.5mm x 9.5mm polished SS screw back case with display back, water resistant to 50 metres.
If you’re searching for an affordable and innovative dress watch or a stylish sporting chronograph, add EPOS Watches to your list of candidates.