What do The Golem and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari have in common? They're the cinematic inspiration for our as-yet-unfilmed low-budget epic: The Lost Continent of January. Who cares what the storyline is? The scenery will be distressingly colorless, the actors wearily dreary, and the screen titles heart-breakingly hip thanks to Chinese Watch Shop, a typeface designed by Daniel Gauthier of Gaut Fonts. With its elongated, hand-drawn look, this TrueType font adds a forlorn and faintly creepy touch to your creations.
Is there an homage to foundry master Firmin Didot hiding in these thorny serifs and brittle silhouettes? Some type historians say that Parisian Didot, with his elegant neoclassical creations, gave typography a final kick away from calligraphy. The forms his family firm produced had a precise, machined quality. If Firmin had been wielding toenail clippers instead of an engravers tip, he might just have produced something akin to the nervous quality found in Chinese Watch Shop
Gauthier sources his designs from everyday things. Chinese Watch Shop was inspired by a hand-lettered shop sign spotted in Hamilton, Ontario. Gauthier stopped the car, snapped a photo, and then set about creating new characters to match. The shop and the sign are gone, but the style, thanks to some quick thinking, lives on here in all its quirky glory.
Not every typeface plays by the rules. For instance, Chinese Watch Shop has a lowercase that is not a lowercase. Instead Gauthier has tweaked an entire set of alternate uppercase characters. Type without the shift key and the cap's sibling appears with a slight variation. Not a single letter is truly vertical. Characters gather reluctantly, making the phrase "HurRy uP, SpRiNg," look like commuters queuing up for the Monday train to work.
Punctuation and numerals are available, but they too have a life of their own. The forms appear more cut than drawn. Sharp is the watchword here. The @ sign and ampersand might well have been shaped by toenail clippers and the asterisk looks as dangerous as a throwing star.
Chinese Watch Shop is licensed for personal use only. Despite the name, don't use this style to welcome in the Lunar New Year. We're afraid something other than fortune will come knocking on your door.
Although it's not the prettiest or most elegant font in our collection (nor in Gauthier's lineup), Chinese Watch Shop has its uses. When the job is to send an artful shiver up the spine, we'll be ready to roll with a tip of the auteur's hat to Gauthier and his eccentric cast of characters.
Note: To use this font, unzip the folder and install the .ttf file in the folder C:\Windows\Fonts. Note that the fonts won't appear in your applications until you close and re-open them.