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Christmas presents  - Watch books to go under the Christmas tree

Christmas presents Watch books to go under the Christmas tree

WorldTempus presents this year’s selection of books that will make the perfect Christmas treat, either for yourself or for the watch lover in your life!

An Identification Manual for Contemporary and Collector’s Pieces

When a site like Chrono24 can generate over a billion euros in sales, as it did last year, it’s clearly essential that you know your watch before you click on that “Buy” button. It’s vital not only to understand exactly the model you’re after, but also to arm yourself against fakes. 

On this level, Fabrice Guéroux certainly knows his stuff. This year, the author of the very well received “Real and Fake Watches” has published an “Identification Manual for Contemporary and Collector’s Pieces” numbering almost 300 pages, to help readers identify suspect finishes and dodgy movements. With over 300 photos and an A4 format that makes the book easy to use and highly portable, this Identification Manual, available in French and English, shares the expertise of a dedicated forgery fighter. Highly recommended, a must-read. 

In French.
In English.

Watch books to go under the Christmas tree

Chronomaster Only

Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver: this unusual name identifies one of the most successful and original tool watches of the 1960s, combining a plethora of functions with a timeless design. This chronograph, created in 1961, was produced over a ten-year period under a number of different brands, thanks to a partnership between Swiss company NIVADA SA and the US firm Croton Watch Co. This led to possibly the most complicated label ever seen on a watch dial: CROTON NIVADA GRENCHEN Chronomaster Aviator Sea Diver.

With the rigorous methodology we have come to expect from the authors of the “Only” series, this book in French and English lifts the veil on the incredible variety of Chronomaster models. It positions itself as both an introductory guide for people with an interest in exceptional watches, and a reference for collectors. There is no doubt that this legendary watch deserves a place among the most desirable chronographs of the 1960s. This addition to the “Only” collection (which includes Flightmaster Only, Moonwatch Only, etc.) provides a singular introduction to an equally singular timepiece, with a preface by the famous auctioneer and WorldTempus contributor, Aurel Bacs. 

In French.
In English.

Watch books to go under the Christmas tree

Of Watches and Men

Geoffroy Ader probably needs no introduction. But here’s one anyway: after starting out as a watch expert for Drouot (1995), Antiquorum (2000) and Tajan (2005), Geoffroy Ader became director for Europe of Sotheby’s watch department in Geneva, before returning to Antiquorum in 2015 as head of digital media. 

His book Des montres et des hommes is unusual: it’s a graphic novel that, through individual stories about watches, provides an insight into historical events. Twelve historical figures share their love for watches through a series of drawings. Their lives shed a light on historical events as they experienced and influenced them. The book, illustrated by Neis, explores some of the finest timepieces sold at auction that have belonged to iconic figures of the 20th century: De Gaulle, Winston Churchill, Adenauer, Kennedy, Gandhi, Einstein, Andy Warhol, Lawrence of Arabia, Elvis Presley, Sir Edmund Hillary, Paul Newman and Henry Graves. While we appreciated the book’s creative, playful and informative approach, we found the illustrations distracting, particularly in terms of how some of the men were portrayed. 

For the time being, the book is available only in French, although an English version will be published in time for Baselworld. 

Watch books to go under the Christmas tree

F.P. Journe – Invenit et Fecit 

This book gives an intimate glimpse into the life of the young enfant terrible François-Paul Journe, his madcap exploits with his friends in Marseille, his doubts about the future, and his discovery of the new world of watchmaking, which would become his vocation and his passion. The author covers François-Paul Journe’s research on precision, his drive to create and innovate, but also his doubts, frustrations and rebellions. François-Paul Journe creates with his gut, and strives constantly to eschew the banal; for him, banality is death. Interestingly, the preface is penned by his son, the historian Charles Journe, who gives a different perspective on this highly personal story. 

In English.
In French.

Watch books to go under the Christmas tree

Your mechanical watch collection

Nicolas Esposito is a researcher in the field of user experience, and also a watch lover. This is his first book on watches. He takes an original approach that sets out to answer the question: how does one go about creating a coherent collection of mechanical watches? It’s thus aimed mainly at newcomers to the watch collecting world, on the understanding that experienced collectors will already have the knowledge they need. 

The selection of watches is thus also relatively approachable: Seiko, Alpina, Oris, Hamilton, Longines, Bremont, Stowa, Victorinox, etc., although the author doesn’t avoid some necessary diversions into the world of haute horlogerie. 

However, while the book is original and a good idea in principle, it is sometimes let down by its execution. First, there’s the quality of the photos, the majority of which were taken by the author. Yes, we understand the desire to look at real watches, worn by real people. But photography is a serious profession. 

In terms of the book’s structure, the way the watches are categorised sometimes seems arbitrary: why is there a category for “Luxury watches” and another for “Iconic watches”, as if there were no overlap? And what are supposed to do with “Other watches”? It’s also regrettable that the topics “Buying a second-hand watch” and “Copies and forgeries” are dismissed in 15 lines. These are vital areas for anyone venturing into the world of used watches. Perhaps these weaknesses are due to the volume of information that the author wanted to impart (57 sub-headings!), but unfortunately they let down the work as a whole. In conclusion, it’s an interesting approach to some smaller brands that are worth seeking out, but weaknesses in structure and content mean it’s not one of our top picks. 

Watch books to go under the Christmas tree

Audemars Piguet 20th Century Complicated Wristwatches

This is the only branded book in our selection this year, but its unusual angle makes it worth consideration. Audemars Piguet takes a look at its complicated watches, 550 of which were produced over the course of the 20th century: specifically, 35 minute repeaters, 188 calendars, 307 chronographs and 20 double complications (calendar and chronograph). The book was produced by the watchmaker’s heritage department, and we can surmise that the comprehensive archival work involved in setting up the soon-to-be-opened Audemars Piguet museum, had something to do with this book’s creation. It’s not cheap, but the quantity and accuracy of the information it contains make it an invaluable work of reference. 

English only.

Watch books to go under the Christmas tree

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Established in 1883, Alpina is recongised as the inventor of the sports watch as we know it today, having presented its Alpina 4 model back in 1938.

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Audemars Piguet is one of the few independent family-owned watch businesses and has been based in Le Brassus, in Switzerland's Vallée de Joux region, at the heart of the fine watchmaking industry,...

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The history of Hamilton is an exciting journey, spanning over 120 years from its foundation in Lancaster, United States to its present home in Biel, Switzerland – the capital of watchmaking. Today,...

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Based in St. Imier since 1832, Longines has a long tradition in watchmaking, characterised by the elegance of its watches. Using expertise gained as the company has evolved, Longines has gradually...

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