Thus far, we’ve seen brands that mix horology with space and land exploration, car racing, coffee, and food. “But what about literature?” you may ask. Well, friends, I’m glad you want to know because, today, we’re going to take a look at Buci. This is a brand hailing from Paris, France, with a first collection orbiting around the art of poetry, a world in which Nousseïma Baraket, Buci’s founder, grew up. Baraket also grew up in Franche-Comté, the country’s historical center for horology, making for a unique and harmonious combo akin to pairing the perfect strap with the perfect watch. The result is a strong first offering, after which came a limited-edition collaboration with seconde/seconde/, the vandal of horology. So, without further ado, let’s talk about Buci. 

As we will see below, Buci stands out for a few reasons. Not only is it one of the few female-owned independent watch brands on the market but also one of the even fewer created by someone with origins in Tunisia. Frankly, when we think about watch brands, we mostly think about Switzerland, northern Europe, the United States, Japan, and Asia. Northern Africa and the Middle East rarely come to mind in this context. Additionally, Baraket’s first collection, aptly named Garde-temps (“Timekeeper” in French), is nothing short of spectacular. It is the type of watch that one needs to see in the metal to fully appreciate all of its details. 

From France’s historical center of watchmaking

When looking at the history of French watchmaking, we learn that Franche-Comté, a region located in eastern France and bordering Switzerland, had been the country’s hub of horology since the 1600s. That was until the French Protestant watchmakers, the Huguenots, were forced into exile in Switzerland. France-Comté was where all major horological inventions were born and where, today, the only and rare French manufactures remain. It is also where popular brands such as Yema and Baltic have their watches assembled and serviced. Nousseïma Baraket, therefore, grew up in an environment that lives and breathes horology. She’s also a poet, so it was only a matter of time before she would combine writing and watchmaking. 

Buci Garde-temps

The Buci adventure started in 2022 by way of a successful Kickstarter campaign to launch the Garde-temps. Working alone, Baraket had to balance running her watch brand and working as a full-time project manager in Paris. As someone who also runs a self-made business, I cannot begin to imagine how hard this must have been for her. Launching a brand requires time, energy, patience, and a certain determination I do not have. But Baraket got a great start and offered the Garde-temps in three dial colors. Last year, she started discussing a potential collaboration with seconde/seconde/, a huge and well-received feat for such a young brand.

The Buci Garde-temps

The Garde-temps is an elegant, everyday type of watch with some key design elements. Being a poet, Baraket infused it with visual cues that hark back to the world of writing. They include applied hour markers shaped like the nib of a fountain pen at the cardinal points, a concave, fixed bezel reminiscent of old inkwells, a textured dial that looks like parchment paper, and a logo combining the letters of the brand name in a way that also evokes a fountain pen. All of this is paired with French-made, curved-end leather straps with engraved poetic quotes either inside or outside. 

Buci Garde-temps brick red on wrist

The connection to literature is also strongly infused in the packaging. Instead of a traditional watch box, the Garde-temps ships in a package conceived to look like an old, bound book. It opens like one and contains a collection of poetic quotes from prominent and young poets. Baraket ran a poetry contest for this purpose, which was quite ambitious and unique. The packaging also has a custom-made interior to give the impression of an old collection of poems. Indeed, an artisan in Paris created a bespoke marbled paper that lines the inside of the packaging. 

For those more interested in the specs of a watch, they likely won’t disappoint you either. The Garde-temps measures 38mm in diameter, 46mm long, 11mm thick, and 20mm between the lugs. Powering it is a regulated Franco-Swiss Soprod Newton that beats at 4Hz and has 44 hours of power reserve. The movement in each watch is regulated in three positions to ±7 seconds per day. On the opposite side of the dial, we find a double-domed sapphire crystal with an inner antireflective coating. The Garde-temps also has a push/pull crown, a display case back with a sapphire crystal, and a 30m water resistance rating. As mentioned above, the watch comes on a fitted leather strap complete with quick-release spring bars, and it retails for €1,185

Buci Garde-temps seconde/seconde/

The collaboration with seconde/seconde/ 

Barely a year after the initial Kickstarter campaign, Baraket started a conversation with seconde/seconde/. The latter is known for “vandalizing” luxury watches by swapping the stock seconds hand for one that is colorful, goofy, abstract, or all those at once. These include anything from a pixelated Zelda sword to a lightning bolt. Given the poetic nature of the Garde-temps, this collaboration had to take a somewhat different approach. The pair decided to create a unique definition of what poetry is and match it with a unique visual cue. Seconde/seconde/ came up with a definition for poetry that reads: “poetrypoʊətri/ n. bloodsport where a daring soul fiercely fights a blank paper.” 

Consequently, the limited-edition collaboration of 40 (now-sold-out) units displays a bold graphic on the otherwise elegant dial — drops of dark blood pouring out of a paper cut. While the regular collection comes in three colors (red, green, and a sold-out beige), they opted for a beige dial for this LE. This made it possible to create a stark contrast between the dial and the cut, which is pad-printed by a French artisan watchmaker. Specs-wise, the collaboration is the same as the regular-production model, but it came with an additional black suede strap in the package. 

Buci Garde-temps seconde/seconde/ on wrist

Final thoughts

We can surely agree on this: it’s nice to see a brand’s first collection tied to a new theme. While I prefer a straight-cut tool watch over such an elegant timepiece, the Garde-temps has a lot to offer. It’s the type of watch that looks classic and sober from a distance but is anything but. The closer one looks, the more treasures one sees, from bespoke applied hour markers and a textured dial to superb polishing work on the case. And when we combine the originality of the design with the good components it is made of, €1,185 doesn’t seem that expensive, does it? 

Buci Garde-temps red dial pocket shot

Well, this is just my opinion, of course. I would also like to hear your thoughts on Buci, its first two offerings, and whether you think they are solid value propositions. For more information about the brand and its models, visit the Buci website