Exploring the world of watches on a budget

Lip Nautic-Ski

Lip, the famed French watch brand, has some fascinating watches in its history, like the first radium dials invested by Pierre and Marie Curie, and the cutting-edge 1975 collection featuring designs by Roger Tallon and others. Among these icons is 1967 Nautic-Ski, the company’s internal bezel 200m diver. This model was reissued in 2014, and they let me take a turn with a blue sunray variant for this review.
Lip Nautic-Ski Reissue
A fully capable diver, the Nautic-Ski was intended as an all-around sports watch. Its launch was timed to coincide with the 1968 Winter Olympics, so the “ski” part refers as much to snow as to water. Lip offers six variants with two different dial layouts, all of which are quite handsome and harken back to the originals. This one is a deep blue with a blue and red internal bezel, and polished markers, hands, and case. The blunt baton hands are a proper length, and the paddle second hand is exactly as it should be. Lume is excellent, and I loved the 12, 9, and 6 are printed on top of their markers, and the wedge-shaped date window with its polished frame. Could it be better? Maybe if they reissued the Nautic 3 with the orange-tipped cigarette hands and piano key index, but now I’m just being greedy. As it is, viewing those retro details through the crystal’s crazy edge distortion makes me want to turn on, tune in, and drop out.

Lip Nautic-Ski Reissue

The first thing that grabbed me was the size. Lip wisely resisted the urge to grossly upsize its old 36mm case to meet modern expectations. By keeping it to a larger yet still more period-correct 38mm wide and 45mm long, they preserved its vintage proportions and insured it against the swing back to mid-sized watches that we seem to be seeing now. It doesn’t hurt that the size right in the sweet spot for my 6.75” wrist. While it may not be wide, it is certainly thick – 15mm from the case back to the top of its bulbous sapphire crystal. Despite this, the watch does not feel fat. Much like my Sinn 103, the Nautic-Ski masks its bulk with polished curves and deep undercuts.

Lip Nautic-Ski Reissue wrist

Twin crowns are a hallmark of the classic compressor-style cases, and the Nautic-Ski delivers on this front with a pair that are chunky, coin-edged, and crosshatched. The 2 o’clock turns the bezel; the 4 o’clock sets the time and screws down securely. I have no qualms with their operation, but their placement is … odd. They do not sit on the same axis. One is high in the case nearer to the dial, the other lower towards the case back. Even though this is just as it was on the original, the placement makes you do a double-take. Every time I showed it to a fellow watch nerd, the reaction was something like, “Oh? Oh! Oh… That ‘ain’t right.” Personally, I’d just chalk it up to character.

Lip Nautic-Ski Reissue side

While the ’67 Nautic-Ski was battery-driven, the new one is automatic, running a 21.6k bph Miyota 821A. It is a reliable unit and easily serviced, but lacks the smoothness of the 9000 series. Looking through the exhibition window, you will find a skeletonized rotor, Lip engraving, and Geneva stripe finishing, all of which go far to justify an open view of the otherwise workmanlike movement.

Lip Nautic-Ski Reissue case back movement

Straight and narrow lugs hold the Nautic-Ski’s 18mm strap. Lip provides two straps with the watch, one leather, the other a tropic-style rubber. Both have signed buckles. I only sampled the rubber, and while it had the right retro look and is entirely practical given the watch’s mission, I found it stiff and uncomfortable. I’d either stick with leather or swap a natural rubber or silicone replacement.

Lip Nautic-Ski Reissue

You can buy the Nautic-Ski direct from Lip. The list price is €499 or $559 US, including VAT. As you move through checkout, those of us outside the EU will see about $94 of that drop off, and an international shipping charge applied. In the end, the final tally for a US sale was $498.48, which is right on par for a smaller independent brand watch with the Nautic-Ski’s specifications. Sure, there are a number of 200m divers in this price range, but few with the Gallic charm and legitimate retro credentials of the Lip. I’m finding the gray and brown version with the long marker dial particularly hard to resist. Check them out for yourself at Lip.fr.

Lip Nautic-Ski Reissue lume

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