Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The First Kiss

I first visited Besançon almost by accident.  It was 2015, and I was visiting Switzerland on separate business, but had the opportunity to go to Besançon and visit Lip.  This is a throwback, but a good one ; )

Turning Right - Again

With the events in Paris last week, I felt somehow drawn to France.  I was coming to Switzerland on business - you will get the full report shortly, but with my one free day, I really wanted to be here to pay my respects, and to visit another "cradle of horology" - Besançon.
So I put on my tourist "beret" and off I went. And I made myself a promise. Instead of making a plan and "sticking to it", when I felt the urge, I would "turn right", and see where it would take me. And on Monday it took me to some truly wonderful places. France is clearly still mourning, but judging from the spirit of the young people of Besançon this will be a temporary condition.

I was amazed to find a clock by none other than Alain Silberstein!

I spent the afternoon walking the city streets, speaking with anyone that was interested.  And at the MATY store I got to try on a watch that has been haunting me -

From the folks at LIP.  This piece of AWESOMENESS is now firmly on my "save pennies to purchase" list.  It is THE SHIT THAT KILLED ELVIS!

I enjoyed a lunch the likes of which "Papa Hemingway" would have gone beyond his normal, journalistic prose to describe.

I was still reveling in the memory just before 5:00 PM when I stumbled into UTINAM .  It was a Monday, and yes, they were supposed to be closed.  But they very kindly let me in, and I had a quick peek around.  Yes, they have Dodane and other cool items.  But what caught my eye were the watches that the owner - Philippe Labru had created.  To be fair, the mechanical version had pride of place.  And although it is very, very cool, what I was really drawn to was this little bijoux -

It is a beautifully beguiling single-handed watch.  The design elements are SPOT ON! 

And at 139 Euros - I could not say no!

So pals and gals, if you haven't considered it, visit Besançon - you will be better for the experience!

Love Overdue - A Week with the Lip Himalaya 40 mm Mecanique

Full disclosure, I am a long-term fan of Lip.  I visited the factory in Besançon 4 years ago, and I am somewhat pre-disposed to like what they do.  I recently had the opportunity to wear and review one of their watches and I have to say that I am a reaffirmed fan.

This is the Lip Himalaya 40 mm Mecanique.  It does not have a chronograph, an alarm, is not solar powered, does not make coffee ; )

The Himalaya originally appeared in the Lip collection from 1954 to 1973.  It has made a comeback over the past few years and today is available in a few different versions.

In other words?  It is a watch!  Hours, minutes, seconds and date.  The case is of stainless steel, and measures 40 mm in diameter.  The movement is a mechanical one. 

Now it bears mentioning that this is a Miyota movement.  The interesting part of this movement's winding action is that it does not achieve a "full" wind stopping point when winding.  What does that mean, exactly?  Essentially that you can wind and wind, but you will not feel the tension growing, resistance increasing, and finally find yourself unable to wind it further.  Also?  You will never over-wind or break the spring!  Over the past week I have wound 20 - 25 times and call it done, and the power reserve has been great.


It would be simple (and accurate) to say that the Himalaya Mecanique had me at "hello".  The dial is beautiful in its simplicity.  And remember, here at Tempus Fugit simple isn't dumb, it's beautiful.  The dial is laid out with applied numbers (a personal favorite), with minute/second indices in between.
The hands are elegantly, and appropriately long and shapely. The second hand is tipped red. These are little details, but for me they really add that certain je ne sais quoi to a wonderful watch.

The date window is another point of joy for me.
Clear, well-defined and easy to read.  Moreover, what I find more and more is that the date window is an after-thought.  And that is the case with big, small and micro brands.  How often is the number or marker where the date window appears either partially, or fully obscured due to lazy design?  This is a truly satisfying dial to look at.

The strap is a wonderful soft, of brown leather.

The buckle is branded, subtle and a perfect match for the watch as a whole.

And the little details matter -

So let's get down to brass tacks, how much is this all going to cost you?


That's just a wee bit under $450 by this morning's conversion rate.

The time keeping was steady, the comfort of the watch was beyond reproach, and the value for money can't really be argued with. Is it for you? Well, that is something down to the individual, to be sure. Me? I am a bit of a romantic. I have visited the Lip facility, I have walked the streets of Besançon, seen the Silberstein clock, had (a few) beer/s with the students in the college bars. This one speaks to me.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Back to the Future - The HD 4

From Humbert Droz -
Courtesy of Humbert Droz
If you had been considering this one, I am afraid you might have waited just a bit too long, because it is sold out of its first run!

I think why I love this particular model is, well, it's quirky!  It's a complex dial layout, it's a throwback to 60s and 70s pop culture (or at least kid culture), and it is priced at a sane level.

It might still be obtainable through Utinam in Besançon, one of the few authorized retail partners.

The case is of stainless steel, it is a contrarian shape (which absolutely speaks to me), and the movement is not something you will see every day   -
Courtesy of Humbert Droz
My understanding is that the initial offering was limited to 400 pieces.

Here are the pertinents should you be so inclined -

Polished and Satin Stainless Steel with rectangular shape 40mm / 35mm Thickness : 15mm.
Notched steel with logo
Mineral with 3 magnifiers.
Automatic and from the German brand Bernard Förster.
Matte black or silver or imitation wood or dark green.
Discs for minutes and hours, Red second hand.
Genuine leather color black, tan brown, grey.
Bracelet buckle:
Stainless Steel folding clasp with logo
Exhibition caseback with mineral glass
Water resistance:
10 ATM
Hours, minutes, date and day
2 years
Serial number:
1 to 400

Sunday, June 28, 2020

The Type 23 Chrono

From Dodane -
Courtesy of Dodane
Dodane is a family brand that has been making watches (primarily for military applications) for quite some time (foundations date back to 1857), and is as Besançon as it gets in the hearts and minds of watch fans around the world. It is currently headed by Laurent and Cedric Dodane, the fifth generation of the Dodane family.

The current TYPE 23 chronograph was developed in 2012, and was designed by Julien Thiebaud in association with Cédric Dodane.

The case is of stainless steel and measures 42.5 mm in diameter.

The TYPE 23 chronograph movement is based on Dubois Depraz 2030 and 42030 (Flyback is optional) movements. It is available in Chronometer grade for a surcharge, with the option to be certified as a Chronometer by the National Observatory of Time Measurement in Besancon.


With the 10th Anniversary of Tempus Fugit rapidly approaching, I wanted to branch off and dig into something that has really grabbed my imagination over the past 4 years - French watches and the city of Besançon in France. 
While I will be diving deep into Lip, I want to get into other brands in the area, France, and share what I think is special about the area.
The real goal of this project will be to share stories, history and passion.  While I am the one starting it, I sincerely hope to bring in other people to expand the scope of what will be on offer.  

While we are all staying close to home, I do hope that this will serve as a bit of an incentive for all of us to learn, grow and when we have the all clear?  VISIT!