Lip Directime (AS Cal. 1902)…
There has been quite a few chronographs on the blog recently so here is something completely different, a ‘Directime’ from the French company Lip, one of the strangest watches to feature on the blog so far.
(Click pictures to enlarge)
Known as the ‘De Baschmakoff’ this watch was first released in the early 1970’s when Lip commissioned a number of architectural, interior and graphic designers to develop a series of groundbreaking watches. This model was designed by Prince François de Baschmakoff in 1971. (I wrote recently about another model from the same series, the Lip Mach 2000, you can read that post here).
Rather than displaying the time with hands in the traditional manner, in this watch the time is represented by three spinning disks, one each for the hours, minutes and seconds. The red line on the crystal is used as the reference point for the current time.
The movement inside this watch is a manually wound A. Schild cal. 1902, which is a standard mechanical manually wound movement but with modifications to support the three disks. Here is a picture of the movement with the dial removed so you can see the disks.
This style of watch is known as a ‘jump hour’ because rather than rotating constantly like a traditional hour disk, the hour disk springs forward when the hour changes. With the second and minute disks removed you can see the mechanism that makes this happen.
In the centre of the hour disk is a separate section containing a coiled spring. The hour wheel sits over the cannon pinion like a regular hour wheel, but rather than the whole disk turning, only the centre section turns, building up power in the coiled spring as the hour passes. The outer edge of the hour disk is stepped and the disk is held stationary by the release lever.
The changing of the hour is triggered by the minute disk which has a raised point on its outer edge between ‘0’ and ‘5’ (see inset above). As the end of the hour approaches the raised point on the minute disk begins to push out the release lever, until it is eventually pushed off the step and …. ‘choing!’… the power from the coiled spring is released, the hour disk jumps forward to the next hour, the release lever hits the next step and the process begins again.
As you can see in the pictures, the mechanism is quite fragile and while good in principle, it didn’t prove strong enough to handle the rigours of daily use, relegating the watch to more of a novelty item than a serious timepiece.
This particular watch came to me with a broken hour spring and other sundry problems. Also supplied was a second watch to use for parts, so after puzzling out how it was supposed to work, I was able to make one working watch from the two.
Like many of the designs from the 1970’s, Lip have chosen to release a modern version of the De Baschmakoff in a variety of styles, this time the watch is fitted with a Swiss Ronda quartz rather than a mechanical movement.
For more details, and to see the current Lip range, visit www.lip-horloges.nl.
** Many thanks to Henrik de Keizer for letting me feature his watch on the blog. **