The Unnamed Society Redefines
The Art Of Gifting With A Bang

Press Release – SIAR 2019

The Unnamed Society Redefines
The Art Of Gifting With A Bang

A work of art in form and function captures the passage, the value and the sublime irony of time, in a work of art with an unexpected twist.

Dedicated to “creating the impossible that cannot be imagined”, The Unnamed Society unveils the first of a new class of hyper-exclusive items that redefines the art of gifting – and takes the experience of creativity, aesthetics and artisanship to an as yet unattained level.

The “Pistol” Table Clock By The Unnamed Society And L’Epée 1839

Today, The Unnamed Society unveiled the first object of art imagined for those who set the bar for the art of gifting ever higher, for appreciators of the finer things, and for visionary collectors. True to its noble ambition of “creating the impossible that cannot be imagined”, The Unnamed Society reinterprets the timekeeper from a radical perspective: as a revolver. It is an intricate work of artistry and precision that engages the imagination and the senses on many levels, offering a unique perspective and appreciation of time. True to the spirit of The Unnamed Society, it is timeless in its purity of intent and execution.

When history triggers an idea for a unique gift

Caesar crossed the Rubicon. Alexander entered Asia Minor. Pancho Villa rode into Texas. The reason why the story of Pancho Villa resonated so uniquely the creators behind The Unnamed Society is not just because it veers off the beaten path. Villa’s was a legend born at a time of great technological innovation: he was two years old when Alexander Graham Bell made the first phone call; and barely eleven, when George Eastman invented the Kodak camera. By the time Pancho took centre stage as a key player in the Mexican revolution, the power of communication through sound and image – of “the here and now immortalised” – had become as inevitable as it was unstoppable.

Yet without these two aligning with a third invention that had already gained some momentum, there would arguably never have been a Pancho Villa. Samuel Colt had already been dead sixteen years when Pancho was born in 1878, but his invention, a “revolving gun design” had already reshaped the American West and was beginning to shape the rest of the world…

Every revolution is founded on values

The other reason the story of Pancho Villa finds its way into the first chapter of The Unnamed Society is that each revolution depends on exclusivity (at the core is always a very small group in the know), secrecy (nothing out in the open) and complicity (as sharing true beliefs is risky, trust is paramount).

The higher the stakes, the harder it is to become part of the inner circle. In describing Pancho Villa and the way his legend grew, John Reed, the writer and journalist who chronicled Villa, described into the revolutionary’s redoubt at “El Passo” as the “Supreme Lodge”, almost a haloed place where resided the “Ancient Order”.

The “Pistol” Table Clock By The Unnamed Society And L’Epée 1839

To fight and die for the revolution was to go down in history as just another tragic footnotes. To fight and die under Pancho Villa was to live on eternally as a “verdadero hombre”, a true man.

This sense of belonging to something greater than oneself, of sharing an obvious yet secret understanding, and attaining the seemingly impossible is core to The Unnamed Society.

But why the revolver? And why a clock?

What Samuel Colt revolutionised is the impact of time when using a firearm: The revolver conferred the power to stop time cold by eliminating the manual reloading process – and the potentially fatal vulnerability that came with it. The purity of purpose inherent in the revolver makes it a compelling platform for telling time: it aptly symbolises the preciousness of every moment, the speed at which it can be stolen and the complexity of what is, ultimately, a simple proposition.

And it reminds us, more vividly no doubt than a conventional clockface can, of the priceless value there is in heeding the simple words, “carpe diem”. How could the gift of time be more unique or richer with meaning?

Breathing life into art: the movement

Only three years separate the founding of the L’Épée watchmaking manufacture and Samuel Colt’s patent for the mechanically indexing cylinder at the heart of the revolver. Nearly two centuries later, The Unnamed Society bade the masters in the art of time to create a timekeeping masterpiece for the appreciators of finer things and visionary collectors who belong to its covert circle.

L’Épée was founded in 1839, the year when John Davidson Rockefeller Sr. was born, and Louis Daguerre took the first photograph of the moon. Today, the company is based in Délémont, in the Jura Mountains, the cradle of Swiss watchmaking tradition. When The Unnamed Society approached Arnaud Nicolas at L’Épée, it was clear that more than the right partner had been found for creating the impossible never before imagined. A kindred spirit.

The “Pistol” Table Clock By The Unnamed Society And L’Epée 1839

“We knew from the outset that we were working on something truly special. Translating the vision of the team into a unique clock calibre has been the challenge of a lifetime and all of us here at L’Épée are very proud of the result. Working with time from all its angles, historical, mechanical and aesthetic, has rarely been so rewarding,” says Arnaud Nicolas, CEO of L’Épée.

From concept to reality: the grip

“The first time I really discovered wood, it was in a carpenter’s workshop. I was 14. I will never forget the different scents as various types of wood would be worked on with the lathe, and how the material somehow came alive as I ran my fingers over its textured surface.

It was the beginning of my passion to create something with my own hands”, remembers Cédric Vichard, a master cabinetmaker.

He has long since made a name for himself with bespoke joinery, including the finest pistol and rifle grips made from olive, pear and palm tree wood as well as rosewood. Yet this sensibility for the material of which revolver grips are made is only part of what drew The Unnamed Society to Switzerland, closed to l’Épée’s home, and enlist Cédric.

The “Pistol” Table Clock By The Unnamed Society And L’Epée 1839

“Vichard” is also synonymous with excellence in the rare art of shagreen, the use of decorative ray skin in cabinetmaking. And in the application of other similarly exotic skins. Though the suggestion of lizard skin for the grip might not have fazed Samuel Colt, surely, he would never have dreamed of something as impossible as a grip for his revolver finished in toad skin, let alone ray skin. But that is what The Unnamed Society is about.

Closer to Colt Country, in Tennessee, Mike Dorris makes custom pistol grips made of completely different materials for the discerning aficionado. Mike specialises in elk antler, sheep horn and giraffe bone grips. Whilst the former two remain genuine classics, the latter turns out to be a high-quality natural substitute for ivory that isn’t “faux ivory” or composite.

Extremely dense and ranging in colour from solid white to a creamy yellow, it makes for a very strong, long-lasting material for pistol grips. Also, giraffe bone can be large enough to produce most styles of grips, so the bespoke possibilities are endless. 

The “Pistol” Table Clock By The Unnamed Society And L’Epée 1839

“Everything I know, I learned by watching my father Virgil. He’s no longer with us, but the flame inside him is. I’m sure he’d be proud to see what fine pistol grips we make today. And I’m just as sure he’d never have imagined that the word “giraffe” would be uttered a dozen times a day in his workshop,” muses Mike Dorris, Head of MD Grips.

A new canon for the art of gifting

With this first creation, The Unnamed Society presents that rarest of constellations in the world of collectible art: when beauty and fascination shine through in the history, authenticity and artisanship that have been so mindfully interwoven to “create the impossible that cannot be imagined”.

The “Pistol” Table Clock By The Unnamed Society And L’Epée 1839

The first of what will grow into a carefully curated offering of hyper-exclusive bespoke objects of art, the inaugural brainchild of The Unnamed Society will be available as a truly unique piece. The price may seem prohibitive to some. And that is the point, one might argue. For it all tangibly comes through in the creativity, craftsmanship and quality of an object that, ultimately, is priceless.

Horological Curiosity: The “Pistol” Table Clock By The Unnamed Society And L’Epée

By Josh ShanksEditor-in-Chief
One of our favorite watches from SIAR wasn't a watch at all. Say hello to the 1839 Colt Table Clock by The Unnamed Society and L’Epée.