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Bang! Revolver Clock-Feature

The Bang! Extraordinary Revolver Clock

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We often see linkups in the dual worlds of horology and car manufacturing, two arenas where precision and high performance are paramount. So, it is something of a surprise that there haven’t been more partnerships in the watchmaking and firearms industries, one other area reliant on the most exacting standards.

Now, however, we’ve got one—of sorts. The Unnamed Society, a cooperative of artists, designers and inventors, has joined forces with renowned Swiss clockmakers, L’Epée 1839 to bring us the Bang revolver clock. The onomatopoeically titled timepiece takes as its inspiration the legendary Colt Bisley, originally a marksmen’s pistol made between 1894-1912, which went on to become the revolver of choice for hatfuls of famous names from the American West.

But now, the preferred weapon of outlaw turned revolutionary, Pancho Villa among others, forms the base for a series of unique and customizable clocks, with each one perfectly embodying the preciousness of time itself.

The Bisley Collaboration

The Unnamed Society only came into existence in 2019, formed by a group of passionate artisans and experts in a whole range of disciplines. With their motto of ‘creating the impossible that cannot be imagined’ they produce objets d’art gifts for some of the world’s most discerning clients. The Bang is their first collaborative work with L’Epée 1839, a time-honored manufacturer with a fearsome catalog of their own.

Their timepiece collection includes pieces inspired by vintage aircraft, 1950s race cars, futuristic spaceships, hot air balloons and even dinosaurs.

All are crafted from the finest materials and made in strictly limited editions, using techniques steeped in tradition.

For the Bang, the pair have taken one of Samuel Colt’s finest; a sidearm built on the architecture of the Single Action Army but with a modified hammer and distinctive curving handle intended for competitors in the Bisley shooting matches in Great Britain. The 7-1/2” barrel gave it impressive accuracy while those unusual grips made it one of the fastest draws of the era. It was also reportedly the shape of the grip which drew Pancho Villa to the pistol, with historians conjecturing the Mexican freedom fighter was stricken with arthritis in his hands and he found the Bisley the most comfortable weapon to hold. It was the favored revolver of Hollywood actor Audie Murphy for a similar reason. The injuries he sustained to his hands during service in WWII made it difficult to wield a gun, so fellow luminary, Gary Cooper gifted him a Bisley with custom grips to make it easier.

Murphy’s wasn’t the only example to make it to the silver screen either. Eagle-eyed viewers and lovers of vintage westerns might recognize it as the pistol on the hip of Hopalong Cassidy’s comic sidekick California Carlson (Andy Clyde) or that of the nefarious Eli Wallach in The Magnificent Seven.

Bang! Revolver Clock-Barrel

The Bang! Extraordinary Revolver Clock

The piece takes the form of a Colt Bisley, mounted on a stand either horizontally on its grip or else pointing straight down on the tip of its barrel, with the revolving cylinder replaced with a clock and its inner workings. It offers an exploded, schematic view of the mechanism, and the hammer—lower and wider than on the Single Action Army—is used to set the time.

As with the majority of works which emerge from the L’Epée maison, the Bang is a limited edition, restricted to just 100 pieces. Many watch companies are also producing very limited production runs like this, such as the case with the Rolex Submariner 116659SABR or Rolex GMT-Master II 126755SARU, which cause them to be highly coveted and collectible.

However, because of the nature of the materials used, each piece is, in fact, an absolute one-off. On the standard model, for example, the grip is made from the horns of North America’s bighorn sheep, meaning no two will ever look the same. If that doesn’t suit, customers can also specify custom handles made by master cabinetmaker, Cedric Richard, using various tree barks such as olive, palm or rosewood, or else the Tennessee-based Mike Dorris of MD Grips can fashion one from the bones or skins of various animals.

Similarly, every example can be engraved to any specification, on the frame, base or barrel.

The Options

There are four variations of the Bang, each with a different makeup. The main version is cast from nickel and palladium-plated brass, costing in the region of $31,000. Most of the surface area can be finished in a variety of ways, either satin, sandblasted or highly polished.

There is also a stunning yellow gold-plated option, For a Few (thousand) Dollars More, as well as an extremely stylish black DLC-coated piece.

But the most outrageous model is known simply as The Diamond. For this extraordinary specimen, the Swiss atelier, Salanitro was drafted in to swamp the Bang with some 2,518 round brilliant-cut diamonds in 21 different sizes. It reportedly took six master gem-setters around 300-hours to fit the 78.26 carats of the precious stones to the revolver, resulting in an object costing around $300,000.

The Bang Revolver Clock

The Movement

Controlling the clock face is a L’Epée-designed and manufactured movement. The 17-jewel caliber is made up of 142 components and delivers an 8-day power reserve at a frequency of 2.5Hz, or 18,000vph. This impressive power reserve is comparable to the remarkable engineering of Panerai watches, like the Luminor Marina 3 Days and the Luminor 8 Days.

The time is displayed on two spheres—one for the minutes, the other for the hours—at the rear of the cylinder, and is adjusted by hand. To wind the mechanism’s mainspring, a special key can be inserted into the end of the barrel.

Manufacturing the movement was, in the words of L’Epée CEO, Arnaud Nicolas, ‘the challenge of a lifetime (but) working with time from all its angles; historical, mechanical and aesthetic, has rarely been so rewarding’.

 Watching the caliber work away in its skeletonized form is, of course, the real joy of ownership.

The idea of blending a gun and a clock is an intriguing one, and it makes perfect sense, especially with the type of gun in question. When Samuel Colt invented the revolver, it was a massive leap forward, eliminating the need for manual reloading and all the dangers incumbent with it.

Combined with a chronometer, it reminds us of the ability of a firearm to stop time completely, and thus the value of time itself. What the Unnamed Society and L’Epée have created is a genuine work of art, an object of true beauty that delivers a powerful message.

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