Sunday, June 23, 2024

The Big Comeback - Lip

Over the past 8 years or so, I have been fortunate enough to witness something pretty special - the reformation of one of the most iconic brands in France. 

Now theologians might question my use of the word reformation to describe the very positive things happening at Lip. But I would beg to differ. One definition of reformation is -

The act or process of changing a religious, political, or societal institution for the better.

Lip is one of those rare entities that goes beyond a simple product category. Like Peugeot, Airbus, L'Oréal, and Michelin (to name just a few), it is interwoven not just in the French psyche, but is known around the world.

The Lip affair was a seismic event not just in watchmaking, and not just in France. It galvanized a group of seemingly different people who had one thing in common - they needed to come together and act, or they were going to lose their jobs. In 1973, Lip was about a heartbeat away from oblivion. Massive layoffs were looming, and if not for the drastic action of the workers, Lip would be a footnote today. 

Spoiler Alert - Lip survived and after more than a few ups and downs, including the indignity of being moved away from its historical home of Besançon, it has been gradually moved back to France's watch epicenter, and this is all thanks to the Berards, particular Pierre-Alain Berard in particular -

This past March, I made my third visit to Besançon and to Lip HQ. And what motivated this trip? 

This is the Lip T18 Original. As mentioned in previous stories here, the T18 is something that marks a brand new chapter in the evolution of Lip. It is the first step towards movement manufacturing returning to Besançon, and it seems fitting that the man who worked to bring Lip home is leading the way to moving Lip back more fully into the world of mechanical watch making.

So now that I have whetted your appetites, I encourage you to tune in to our next episode where we will go deeper into the T18, the city of Besançon, and Lip's role in its evolution.

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