Wristwatch restoration, servicing and repair

Posts Tagged ‘Lip’

Lip Galaxie (Durowé Cal. 7525/2)…

Something contemporary on the blog for a change, a Lip Galaxie.

(Click pictures to enlarge)

Ok, maybe not – although this watch has something of a modern ‘Swatch’ look about it, it was actually made in 1975. I’ve written about quite a few whacky designs from the 1970’s, some of which wouldn’t grace many wrists these days, but the Lip Galaxie certainly isn’t one of them and is an excellent example of how some designs age better than others.

Lip have an interesting history dating back to 1867. Their horological achievements include working with Pierre and Marie Curie to develop the first phosphorescent dials in 1904 (the birth of lume!) and developing the first electronic wristwatch movement, the cal. R27 in 1958.

Like many others, Lip suffered during the quartz revolution and things came to a head in April 1973. On discovering the management’s plans to restructure the business and make a third of the workforce redundant, the workers took matters into their own hands, taking three hostages and barricading themselves inside the factory.

Riot police stormed the building on the very first night, freeing the hostages, but the workers didn’t stop there as they seized 65,000 watches along with the manufacturing plans and started day and night occupation of the factory.

The whole incident was reported in the national press which lead to public outrage at the treatment of the workers, followed by a 12,000 strong demonstration in the town of Besançon. Buoyed by the popular support, the workers decided to move the business forward under worker control, resuming production and selling the seized 65,000 watches at cost price to raise capital.

The government attempted to calm the situation and restore order, but the workers refused to cooperate. Consequently, the workers were forcefully expelled from the factory by the Mobile Gendarmerie (military unit) in September 1973, and despite a second protest – this time numbering 100,000 – the Mobile Gendarmerie remained in the building until February 1974.

Collective enthusiasm bears fruit (Illustration: Dargaud)

After much political wrangling behind the scenes, a buyer was finally found for the company, the European Clockwork Company, who agreed to hire 850 of the former employees in March 1974 and the remainder of the workforce in December, finally laying the whole incident to rest. However, after all the trouble the company was still crippled by previous debts and survived for just three more years, closing it’s doors in Besançon for the last time in 1977.

Ok, after that historical detour, let’s get back to the watches… 😉

In early 1970’s Lip commissioned a number respected designers to develop a series of avant garde wristwatches, a couple of which I’ve written about before on the blog. The De Baschmakoff which started the ball rolling in 1971, and arguably the most collectible model, the Mach 2000 developed by Roger Tallon.

The Galaxie was developed by the Swiss designer Rudolph (Rudi) Meyer, known for his work on commercial posters, trademarks and company logos.

Meyer designed the Galaxie in 1974 and the watch was made in four base versions (and variations thereof); the one in this post, a model with spherical hour markers, one with recessed chrome discs and a model with arabic numerals and a plastic coated case.

Inside the watch is a Durowé cal. 7525/2, a 25 jewel, automatic calibre with beat rate of 21,600 bph which needed no more than a regular service this time. The crystal was also cracked and needed to be replaced, but with no major hurdles, the watch was soon back in service.

The watch also needed a new strap which was more difficult to find than I imagined due to shape of the case. Genuine Lip straps are long discontinued and all the curved straps that I could find were shaped to fit between extended lugs, so were quickly ruled out. Several regular straps that I tried were too thick to be bent around the case without buckling, but I eventually found a thin leather strap with a contrasting stitch which worked well and proved to be a good match for the watch. All in all, not a bad result.

Rich.

** Many thanks to Justin Swale for letting me feature his watch on the blog. **


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.

Rich.

** Many thanks to Henrik de Keizer for letting me feature his watch on the blog. **


Lip Mach 2000 (Valjoux Cal. 7734)…

Designed in 1973, this Mach 2000 “Dark Master” chronograph became an iconic watch for the French company Lip.

(Click pictures to enlarge)

During the 1960’s and 70’s Lip commissioned a number of architectural, interior and graphic designers to create some of the most original wristwatches ever produced. Roger Tallon was the real stand-out from the seven designers chosen both in terms of his work for Lip and his career as a whole, during which he designed the high speed TGV train, the worlds first portable TV (the ‘Teleavia’), the 8mm camera, and the Helecoidal staircase.

Roger designed no less than 24 different models for Lip, the most famous of which is undoubtedly the Mach 2000. With it’s D-shaped asymmetric case and quirky multi-coloured pushers it quickly become a cult icon. The watch was originally fitted with a very popular 1970’s chronograph calibre, the Valjoux cal. 7734.

In operation it is just like any other Valjoux powered chronograph; the blue ball in the centre is the crown, used for winding and time-setting. The yellow ball/pusher is used to start and stop the chronograph, and the red ball/pusher is used to reset.

Finding these original versions in good condition can be quite hard these days. These watches came to me needing little more than cosmetic tidying up, but I couldn’t miss the chance to write about them on the blog, it could be a while before another one graces the bench.

In 2008 Lip reissued the Mach 2000 along with a number of other classic models from the 1970’s. As well as the original version they also released a version in silver called the “Light Master” and a version black rather than multi-coloured balls called the “Aeronef”. All the new models are fitted with quartz rather than mechanical movements (too bad!), but they retain almost the same styling as the original.

The owner of the watch in this post, Henrik de Keizer, is lucky enough to own two of them, the second being this one with gold rather than coloured balls.

Henrik is the importer of Lip watches for Holland, for more details and to see the current Lip line-up, visit www.lip-horloges.nl.

For more information about Lip watches in general and their history, check out this page over on Watchismo.

Rich.

** Many thanks to Henrik de Keizer for letting me feature his watches on the blog. **