When it comes to deciding on a new watch, I know I think about all the usual suspects: build quality, fit and finish, movement, and most importantly (for me anyway) is the look. In my conversations with other enthusiasts, brand heritage has also come up. But what happens if you’re looking at brands who are not old enough to have years of heritage? Well, I would argue that it’s important to discern what that brand stands for – their ethos.
Hands-On: the Buci “Garde-temps”
Buci, established in 2022 out of Paris, has a soul that is super-charged with poetry. Brand owner Nousseïma Baraket is both a poet and avid reader of poetry, on top of being filled with a love for horology. If you stop to think about it, our passion for watches is not without romance and poetry. Afterall, we willingly wear some of the smallest engine turning ecosystems in the world on our wrists, knowing full well that time is kept better on our phones and computers. We don’t need them, but our lives are enriched by their presence.
At this point we all know that watches have different stories to tell. Studio Underd0g lets us know that we can have fun with our classic watch designs. Grand Seiko manages to capture the nuances of nature in their dials. Buci oversees the integration of poetry and literature in their watches, through some subtle and some not-so-subtle means.
Let’s first discuss the terracotta-colored elephant in the room – that dial! We are used to seeing some great textured dials, but I’d put this one up against some of the best and most beautiful. There are three color options, including green and an off-white, but I requested to see the red. I like color, sure, but this color and texture reminds me of my time in Florence studying Italian literature. I remember all the beautiful reds, sands, and cream textures of the buildings and this dial brings all that back. It looks like fresh plaster ready to be adorned with a fresco. Instead, all we have are the words Buci and Paris above the pinion, and a small crown-like logo below the pinion. If you separate the shapes in the logo, you can pull out the word “BUCI,” like Michelangelo pulling the sculpture out of marble.
This is a dress watch, so there’s no lume on the dial, but the dial does include a long silver set of sword hands that shimmer above the vibrant red backdrop. There are also polished baton indices marking most of the hours, but then there’s something quite different at the twelve, three, six, and nine. This shape is meant to represent the nib of a fountain pen. If you weren’t prepared to summon your innermost artist, this dial is pleading for you to let them out.
Once over the stunning dial the gaze falls on the case. Much like the dial, the case seems ordinary at first, but only at first. The case itself is not perfectly round. There are discrete curves where the lugs meet the case, and because most of the case and sides of the lugs are polished, those curves are like glistening chrome hills throwing light in every direction. The oddly concave bezel is also polished on the sides but comes to a brushed plateau on top. The tops of the lugs are also brushed. Therefore, when looking straight down at the watch, everything appears brushed, except what little you can see of the slopes on the bezel and chamfered edges on the sides of the lugs. No doubt so the dial can be appreciated. The effect this has is that when you’re focused on the dial, and therefore trying to tell the time, your attention moves inward. However, when you start tilting the watch at any angle the poetry emanates from the unique construction on the case.
When the watch is flipped over there’s an exhibition caseback revealing the 4hz SOPROD Newton movement inside, with a custom BUCI rotor. The movement itself is not extravagant, and while I wondered if seeing the movement was necessary in this instance, I began dwelling on the concept of the watch again. This watch is about poetry and creativity. It’s meant to invoke an appreciation of craft, so it seems fitting that we also take a moment to appreciate the craft of watchmaking, as there’s poetry in that too.
Perhaps the most overt display of poetry is on the unique strap options that come with these watches. The straps themselves have excerpts from poems stamped on them. Before shipping the watch to me, Nousseïma gave me the options of black-, brown-, or camel-colored straps, and between quotes from renowned poets Rumi and Apollinaire. I chose Rumi’s “this moment is all there is.” Finally, I was able to choose whether I wanted it on top of the strap, or on the bottom. I chose to have the quote displayed on top so I could see it while wearing the watch. While I initially thought this idea would be too cheesy for a watch so subtle in its displays of affection, I found that I was wrong. The ability to look at the strap and appreciate a quote from a poet I know, love, and spent years of my life studying, brought me warmth every time. And, if you’re the type to think it’s a little hokey, you can always have the quote on the underside. I do hope Nousseïma continues the tradition of quoting poetry on her watches, but it would be cool if we could choose quotes from any poet, as I’d choose to have a line from Dante on my wrist.
Overall Nousseïma did a fantastic job forging the fusion of poetry and watchmaking. From a distance Buci’s first watch might look like a normal dress piece, but the closer you get the more each aspect of the watch reveals itself to be offering up its own function, working together as part of a whole. One of my old poetry professors once told me that “every word in poetry should be on purpose.” I see that in this watch. Buci