A series of ancient objects which reveal Antoine LeCoultre's inventive spirit in a new light will soon be joining the Heritage collection. Amongst them is an extraordinary devise for polishing pinions, designed by the founder of Jaeger-LeCoultre and which allowed him to go out on his own in the industry.
Antoine LeCoultre worked in the pinion industry until the end of the 1820s. The pinions were traditionally filed down and thinned out by various manufacturers in the Vallée de Joux. Antoine set about finding an alternative method of manufacture, and created the first tool for forming pinions, and another to cut them. For polishing, he developed a pedal powered machine, nicknamed ""la Bringue"" by his wife Zélie, most probably because of the noise it would make in the family home.
La Bringue, created around 1833, is a small steel and brass machine used to polish the leaves of pinions. The machine consists of a chassis with a pulley on top, which is moved using a hand lever. The pinion is fixed between the two ends of the pulley. A wooden grindstone made of fir tree from the Risoux forest is activated by a pedal, which is connected to a large wheel by a gut string. The polishing of the leaves is accomplished by the movement of the pulley, which holds the pinion beneath the rotating wheel.
Antoine LeCoultre's invention of this machinery allowed him to create a new pinion industry, famous for their shape, their polish and their durability. At the age of 30, Antoine left the family business and founded the first watchmaking workshop, which was to become the Jaeger-LeCoultre Manufacture. His brother Ulysse joined him for a short while until the two brothers decided to go separate ways. Ulysse continued to manufacture pinions, whilst Antoine dedicated his time to the creation of complete movements.