AboutTime Fall 2020 - Page 56



By James Henderson


Lip Workshop
Philippe and Pierre-Alain Bérard

Mention watches and traditional watch making , and you ’ d

be forgiven for thinking of Switzerland , Germany or even
Japan . But France , and more specifically Besançon , has perhaps one of the strongest histories of traditional watchmaking in the world . And when you think of French watches , the one brand that stands out above all others is Lip .
Lip is indelibly linked to the French psyche much like Timex has been to those of us who grew up in the United States .
Lip has become something of a cult brand , even in the U . S . And for good reason . The Lip Mach 2000 is something of an anomaly among watch fans . If we are honest about it , in its current format it is essentially a quartz chronograph , and Lip has made few cosmetic changes to it .
MORE THAN A WATCH But this is a watch that demonstrates that a watch is far more than the sum of its parts . Think I ’ m kidding ?
While in France I received a Facebook message from a fellow watch journalist stateside asking me to pick one up while I was there and bring it back for him . There are certain watches out there that hit visceral nerves , and for me Lip has a few models that speak to me on levels I can ’ t really quantify . They are emotional as much as pragmatic . Lip , at its very heart , is as much a feeling as it is a brand .
Lip is well known throughout the Francophone world , and famous with hard-core watch and design fans ache for the Mach 2000 , as well as the now iconic Nautic Ski .
And the Nautic Ski is enjoying a best “ second life ” ever , with the return of smaller watches on the radar of most watch fans . When I visited Lip four years ago , the brand had been living sort of a diluted life , really treated by the ( then ) owners as only a brand label for watches and not the watch brand that Lip truly is .
ENTER THE BERARDS At the time of my visit , the Berard family was producing Lip under a license , but had not yet fully taken formal control .
The Berards , Philippe and his son Pierre-Alain , have now taken full ownership of Lip – and have reinvigorated it . I am not here to criticize the previous owners . I am , however , here to applaud the Berards , and the entire team at Lip .
How do you manage a legend ? Curious to relate , Lip stirs a lot of emotions in not only watch fans , but in the French consciousness . But prior to the Berard ’ s , that emotional connection
54 | AboutTime Magazine