By Nirja Dutt
As a journalist who learnt about timepieces on the job, one of my biggest and most informative resources were books. Here’s a quick list of some that will help you as a novice to widen your know-how of the marvels of horology.
We live in a world where ‘just google it’ is a phrase we use almost 10 times a day, and while on most days it does the job, there are some subjects that require more than just a quick search on the web, horology is one of them. In an industry where a brand that is less than 50 years old is counted as ‘young’ this is one of those worlds that requires research, know-how and a deep understanding of the technical details. While most brand websites and many blogs are a great source of information, there is something about the published written word that doesn’t compare. The list I’ve compiled below is a mix of perspectives around horology—history, time, iconic watches, legendary brands and plenty more.
1. Watchmaking by George Daniels
One of the most notable figures in the world of watchmaking, this is an insightful read into what really goes into making a watch. While this speaks of traditional techniques on how to build a watch from the very start, it also deep dives into the world of complications. While technical may seem like the flavour of the book overall, what makes it interesting is the little anecdotes that are woven within chapters that give you a perspective of the industry and how it has grown.
2. The Impossible Collection of Watches (2nd edition) by Nicholas Foulkes
One for collectors and is a collector’s item in itself, this is the second edition of ‘The Impossible Collection of Watches’ that was first published in 2014. Within it lies images and information on 150 of the most covetable timepieces including incredibly rare Audemars Piguet Royal Oaks, a Cartier Turbine and other models from Richard Mille and Vacheron Constantin. Think of this as a north star to what a collection could be inspired by, also a great way to acquaint yourself with some of the greatest watches made by the finest houses in history.
3. A Sideways Look at Time by Jay Griffiths
A completely different way of looking at ‘time’ as a concept, think of this as your perspective changer. With thirteen chapters, one for each hour plus one bonus, the thought behind each is to explore an aspect of time through culture and history. Unexpectedly brilliant to say the least and very compelling, read this to understand the beauty of experiencing time and not just measuring it.
4. The Cartiers: The Untold Story of the Family Behind the Jewellery Empire by Francesca Cartier Brickell
Narrated and chronicled by a descendent of the family, think of this as a little lesson in pop culture with a horological undertone. From the history of the iconic Cartier Crash, to early sketches and old family photographs, the book reads through like an interesting verse of history without the burden of finding it boring. Captivating, inspiring and fascinating all at once, each chapter unveils a clue into the empire you see today, and as it comes to a close, it actually all falls into place.
5. A Man and his Watch by Matt Hranek
While most books can give you an insight into what to buy, where it’s from, how it’s made, this book on the contrary encapsulates how you feel. Chronicled beautifully by Matt Hranek, the book speaks about exemplary watches but it’s the first-hand accounts that really grasp the reader. Dripping with emotion on the joy and fascination of what it feels like to actually own a watch that really means something shifts your insides making you believe that every watch you must own, should have a story to match.
So while it may take time to decide which watch to buy next, start with a book that gives you a story worth pondering over, if not for the watch, do it for the subject.