Lip Mach 2000 Chronograph
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Lip Mach 2000 Chronograph

It isn’t often that a watch is an example of iconic industrial design, masterminded by a giant in the field, but in the case of this watch, it most certainly is. 

The designer in question was Roger Tallon. Born in 1929, Tallon studied as an engineer at the height of the Second World War. Afterwards, he worked for Caterpillar France and DuPont. Commissions from American companies Frigidaire and General Electric exposed him to the thoughtful utility of American design, an idea that would inform his creations from then on.

Tallon’s creations during his tenure at Technès—the design firm founded by master of industrial aesthetics, Jacques Viénot—have become nothing short of emblematic. It was Tallon who penned the Wimpy chair, the Téléavia P111 portable television, and the Model M400 Adjustable Helicoid Spiral Staircase. His enthusiasm was as boundless as his output, and each product that he designed was imbued with a sense of fun.

In 1973, Tallon formed his own firm, Design Programmes; that same year, he would receive a commission from Lip, at the most pivotal point in that company’s history.

For the veteran French watch manufacture, established in 1867, the 1960s and 1970s were a period of turmoil on an unprecedented scale. Workers went on strike in 1968, swept up in the student protests that engulfed the nation. A hostile takeover by Ebauches SA in 1970 led to the termination of 1300 workers, including Fred Lipman, director of the company.

Finally, in 1973, an action committee took control of the company and took two administrators—and a government inspector—hostage. Although the hostages were released, the workers seized 60,000 watches and hid them. They occupied the factory 24/7 and opened it to the press, inciting such a furor in their favor that 12,000 protestors staged a demonstration on June 15. Emboldened, the workers voted to take formal control of the factory and continue production. Their slogan was: “we make them, we sell them, we pay ourselves!”

During that tumultuous year, Tallon penned this watch, the Mach 2000 “Dark Master” Chronograph. Although one in a series of sports watches Lip commissioned from Tallon, the Dark Master is certainly the standout. Minimal without being spare, functional while still being fun, it’s without a doubt one of the most distinctive watches we’ve ever come across in our five years of business.

We’ve seen asymmetrical watches before, many of them designed by that other master of watch design, Gerald Genta, or Richard Arbib, the man who put fins on Cadillacs and ushered Hamilton into the 1950s. But the Dark Master takes the idea almost to an extreme, without being too outlandish. The case would almost be a perfect oval were it not for those pushers, brightly-colored balls that wouldn’t look out of place on a child’s toy.

But they’re on a watch, this watch, and we absolutely love them.

It’s the pushers that take what could be a sparse design and make it iconic. Considered by itself, the dial—coupled with the black case and integrated black plastic strap—is dark and minimalistic. Touches of yellow on the post of the hands and in the register at 3 o’clock liven up what would be a monochromatic dial and draw the eye to those colorful pushers.

On the whole, it’s a design so fresh and original that one could see it being produced in the 21st century, perhaps even as a smart watch. In fact, it was recently reissued by Lip; although the reissue wears slightly smaller than the original, the presence of a quartz movement detracts somewhat from the charm. We prefer the original—lovingly preserved, complete with a box (a rare touch!) and just begging to be strapped to the wrist.

After all, to quote the man himself: “Beauty is the simple result of a well-made work. A form doesn’t need to be beautiful, but good, good because it is logical, practical and does its job.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Details

SKU: AS02435

PVD case is approximately 46.5mm (excluding crown and pushers). Valjoux Calibre 7733 Manually-Wound Chronograph Movement. Circa 1970s.

Overall Condition: Case is in very good condition overall with minimal signs of use and wear. Dial is in very good condition with crisp printing.

Includes one 25mm black plastic integrated bracelet.

Also includes box.

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