Lip Watches History 1949-Today

Maison Horlogere Francaise Since 1867.

In 1949 Lip gave the time on French TV station RTL. At the Liberation of France after the war, Lip advertising campaigns started again with the catch phrase “watchmakers in Besancon since 1867”.

In 1952 Lip sold the very first electric watch in the world. Fred Lip had initiated a research program in 1946, that soon developed the first electric watch, baptised “Electronic”. It was presented on the 19th of March 1952 and sold in december 1958. This is another huge world first for Lip watches.In 1954 Lip watches had 1500 employees producing 300,000 watches and a factory in Palente in Besancon, France.

In 1960 The Palente watch factory was inaugurated in Besancon: The most modern factory in Europe with a transport network for the employees, a restaurant and a company nursery.  In 1967 Lip created the first serious diving watch. The legendary Nautic-Ski created to celebrate the Centennial anniversary of the company, Lip sold the Nautic-Ski at the Printemps department store in Paris in 1967.  It’s the first watch to be water resistant at depths of 200 m under water (20 atmospheres) complete with an inner rotating bezel positioned under the glass to avoid any movement that could cause a diving accident. 
In 1968 Fred Lip decided to partner with  Prince Francois de Baschmakoff. This celebrated colourist, renowned for his drawings in fashion magazines, collaborated in the creation of the new Lip models. This is how the first de Baschmakoff watch was born with its digital face. Still a classic today and one of our favourites.  In 1969 Lip conquered the silver screen in France with a new advertising campaign that presented the production of a watch through “ORTF” (Office de Radiodiffusion-Television Francaise) .

Sadly things went downhill from there very quickly, the introduction of the quartz watch wiped Fred Lip out and by 1971 he retired.
In 1973 Lip faced a rapidly evolving market and went bankrupt in April. Some interesting historical social events followed this bankruptcy with the famous formula “we produce, we sell, we pay ourselves”. In January, Claude Neuschwander took over the management of the company without forgetting the Lip Spirit : technology, reliability and avant-garde. Eventually after 329 days of conflict “Lip is alive” on the 11th of March and back in business. 60% of the workforce are women and post war they  enjoyed a freedom that had been denied them. The mostly female workforce set up a communal society: hosting, management, production, selling, nursing, catering... Engaged, they go on strike with their children in the streets of Besancon. Motherly, they give a sisterly touch to the conflict.   

In 1974 Claude Neuschwander, who worked for Publicis, was once again Lip’s general manager and hired 7 new designers. These 7 designers all came from different backgrounds and were considered the best in their respective fields.  They collaborated on the 1975 collection: Roger Tallon, Rudolf Meyer, Marc Held, Michel Boyer, Isabelle Hebey, Michel Kinn and Jean Dinh Van. The result were brilliant, and are still considered so today. In 1990 Jean-Claude Sensemat bought the Lip brand and relocated it to Gers in Lectoure, where he grew up. In 1998 Lip started the very first e-commerce watch shop in France.

In 2001 to commerorate the memory of Jean Mermoz’s birthday in 1901 Lip start ed producing the Type 10 Lip watch that was on his aeroplane. In 2002 Jean luc Bernerd created the “Manufacture Generale Horlogere”, MGH for short, to use the Lip trademark and restore its  legendary brand status. In 2005 Lip re-adapted several models such as the Mach 2000 by Roger Tallon.

In 2007 Prisca Briquet, who was in charge of the Lip collections, created the Mythic, keeping in mind the brands values: technology and vanguardism. In 2009 respecting the legacy of the 70’s and the 7 designers, Lip hired Hicham Lahlou. The Franco-Moroccan was the pioneer of Moroccan design and had proved himself on the international scene with his creative, sincere and intellectual approach. He created the Lalla watch with a double display.  In 2010 Lip reissued the Panoramic model by Michel Boyer, which was both fresh and simple. In 2011 Espace Lip was created in Lectoure and a Concept Store in Toulouse. Lip was the first watch making brand to receive a special mention (IFOP) and in 2012 Lip watches won the Gres d’Or prize for the best initiative in favour of sustainable development.

See the whole range of the best Lip watches here: