The best watch book for beginners
When I first became interested in watches and watchmaking, I started looking for books about watches, especially traditional timepieces like manual winding and automatic watches, and their history. So, I realized that there were mainly two types of books: on one end, many technical watch repair books, and on the other, books displaying beautiful photographs - coffee table books- but mostly devoid of any technical aspect.
The Watch Manual: a new kind of book
Therefore, those ones were not really useful books for people who knew little about watchmaking, and approached for the first time to this extraordinary world. Many people, in fact, are passionate about watches, but do not have much knowledge in the field. So, I asked myself: what if I wrote it?
At that point, I started to ask myself some questions. First question: what, primarily, does a person who starts to get interested in watches and clocks want to know? So, I began to rearrange what watchmaking consists of, to write the best book on watches for beginners.
To delve into the history of the clock, I started with the history of time measurement. Initially, people measured the passage of time with the sundial, an instrument that merely recorded the sun's position. For years, the sundial, on the wall or on the ground, was the only means of calculating the passing of time. The first clocks, properly so called, date back to the thirteenth/fourteenth century and were highly inaccurate and wall clocks.
The pendulum history
The first pendulum clocks date from the mid-17th century, and were also the first clocks to measure time accurately. In fact, pendulum clocks were accurate to the second. After pendulum clocks, came the first pocket watches and then the first wristwatches, in the first half of the 20th century. However, the history of the clock is not only a history of mechanisms and calibers. Straddling the line between instrument and jewel, the watch also has an essential history in its manufacture.
British watchmaking, for example, experienced a period of glory between the mid-17th century and the end of the 18th. Meanwhile, in about the middle of the 1700s, Lépine invented calibers, a revolution in watchmaking. Other important milestones in watchmaking include the discoveries of Abraham-Louis Breguet, a legendary figure in watchmaking history, like the automatic watch, the anti shock system, the tourbillon. In addition to patenting the tourbillon, Breguet founded in 1775 the famous Breguet watch manufactory, still in business today.
The tourbillon by Breguet
The history of watchmaking, told in the book The Watch Manual, the best book on watches, continues with the birth of mass-produced watches and the passage from the pocket watch to the wristwatch. An iconic watch among wristwatches is the Santos, made by Cartier in 1904 for aviator Alberto de Santos Dumont, who wanted a watch to view in flight easily.
The Art Déco period and the Bauhaus
The Bauhaus also produced several watches that would become icons, especially those designed by Max Bill, and the Reverso, produced by Jaeger-Le Coultre. It was the prelude to the "golden age of watchmaking," just after World War II. The star of that period was Gerald Genta, one of the most famous watch designers, who designed several icons and founded his own manufacture.
Reverso Tribute, 2023
The golden age of watchmaking ended with the arrival of quartz, which seemed to have permanently flattened the market for mechanical watches. On the contrary, in recent years, the mechanical watch has been experiencing a new life. With the arrival of smartphones and smartwatches, the mechanical watch gained a new status, which brings it closer to jewelry, rather than a simple device to tell the time. And that's why more and more enthusiasts, even very young people, are getting into watches and watchmaking. And that's why I had the idea to write a book about the noble art of horology, which many readers consider the best watch book.
2) Types of Watches
One thing that may be of interest to those approaching the world of watchmaking for the first time, is to learn more about what types of watches exist. In fact, it is not enough to say "watch." Watches can be grouped by styles, so that we will have pocket watches, ceremony watches, or even watches for different occasions, for example grand evening or wedding. Then, the book The Watch Manual, the best watch book for beginners, delves into the different types of watches, depending on the uses. For example, it illustrates chronographs, diving watches, regulators, antimagnetic watches, pilot's watches, trench and military watches, and military watches. But that's not all: a chapter is dedicated to calendars, a chapter to chronometers, then to ultra-thin watches, and skeletonized timepieces. Then, there is an in-depth look at tourbillons, carousels and open hearts, and exotic automations and complications.
3) Watch elements
In a best watch book, you cannot miss a section dedicated to the elements of which a watch is composed. In fact, to really understand what we're talking about when we consider the elements of a watch, you need to know the exact definitions of the pieces that make it up. This is a technical section, in which we analyze dials and hands, cases and materials, and the special crystals for watches. The chapter then delves into straps and bracelets, the various finishes and decorations, and the marks and inscriptions that you find in the typical watch.
4) How do watches work?
Knowledge of a watch starts with the understanding of how it works. For this reason, the best watch book devotes an entire section to understand how a watch works. First, it explores the difference between a mechanical watch and a quartz watch by studying their mechanisms. Then it looks at what elements make a watch work: mainspring, wheels, balance wheel, the jewels, the escapement. Then you analyze the anti-shock systems, and methods for winding, for manual and automatic watches. Finally, you delve into how watches have evolved, from the first wristwatches to smartwatches.
5) Do watches follow fashion?
The section of the best watch book dedicated to style lovers tackles the great debate of our day: do watches follow fashion? Or again: are watches jewelry? Of course, there is no answer, everyone looks at watches the way they prefer. However, it is essential to know the style and styles, choose the right watch for each kind of attire, and, of course, for each occasion. For example: what is the appropriate size for a wristwatch? How big should the dial be in relation to the wrist? What should the strap look like? Does it have to fit the clothing? And then: how to choose a watch? What are the rules?
How to start a watch collection
A watch lover generally passes seven phases, and The Watch Manual, the best book on watches, explains what they are. When approaching watches, in the beginning, it's not easy to find your way around brands and models, in a world that seems virtually endless. If you want to start a watch collection, it's good to get acquainted with the ten watches that made modern watchmaking history. Then, it would help if you considered how many pieces a minimum watch collection should/could contain. This section of the best book for watch collectors helps to deepen the motivations of a collection, therefore choosing how to invest in the models that best suit the collector's preferences.
Choosing the best watches to buy, in fact, is neither trivial nor straightforward. First of all, you have to learn to know them. And for this, you need to read, inform and study, and keep constantly updated. Collectible watches can be new, second-hand, vintage, historical. The Watch Manual, the best book on watches, helps to know and distinguish watches based on their origin. The origin and provenance of a watch help to determine the value.
How to maintain a collection of watches
Once purchased, it is necessary to maintain them in operation by taking care of them, keeping them constantly in order. The things to know, check, and control when buying a vintage, second hand or historical watch are different. For example, you need to know how to date correctly the watch, learn how to verify the origin. Or, be prepared for any problem, and know how to intervene with repairs. In addition, in today's world, you need to take some precautions when buying watches. The Watch Manual offers some advice on not taking too many risks when buying a watch online.
A person approaching the world of watches for the first time, sometimes feels a bit uncomfortable asking for things that seem obvious. The Watch Manual was created precisely to answer all the questions of newcomers, even those that seem more straightforward.
6) Watches practical infos
The best watch book, unlike coffee books, offers practical info. Do you want to start a watch production? The Watch Manual contains some guidance on watch production. Where are the most important brands, how to start production, and how to create a brand, through examples of real case histories.
7) The most famous watch brands
Finally, in a genuinely good best watch book, you cannot miss the icons of watchmaking, from designers to the most beloved and established brands. The book contains descriptions and a brief history of 65 of the most famous watch brands:
Audemars Piguet - Baume Mercier - Bell & Ross - Blancpain - Breguet - Breitling - Bulgari - Bulova - Cartier - Casio - Certina - Chopard - Citizen - Corum - Doxa - Ebel - Eberhard - Edox - Eterna - Fortis - FP Journe - Franck Muller - Frederique Constant - Girard Perregaux - Glycine - Hamilton - Hublot - Invicta - IWC - Jaeger Le Coultre - Jaquet Droz - Lange & Sohne - Longines - Louis Erard - Maurice Lacroix - Mido - Montblanc - Movado - Nomos - Omega - Orient - Original Glashutte - Oris - Panerai - Patek Philippe - Piaget - Rado - Raymond Weil - Richard Mille - Roger Dubuis - Rolex - Seiko - Sinn - Squale - Swatch - Tag Heuer - Tissot - Tudor - Ulysse Nardin - Universal Geneve - Vacheron Constantin - Vulcain - Wyler Vetta - Zenith - Zodiac
And at the end of all, the test to choose your ideal watch.
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The Watch Manual: the best watch book
History of watchmaking
1.0 – Introduction and history
1.1 – Measuring time: the beginning
1.2 – The evolution of time-keeping: days, hours and the first clocks
1.3 – Peter Henlein and the invention of the first portable clocks
1.4 – The rise and fall of British watchmaking
1.5 – Lépine and the revolution of calibers
1.6 – The genius of Bréguet
1.7 – Watches and serial production: the rebels of watchmaking
1.8 – Pocket watches go to the wrist
1.9 – Louis Cartier and the Santos
1.10 – The Bauhaus and Max Bill
1.11 – The Golden Age of horology
1.12 – Gerald Genta
1.13 – The Quartz Crisis
1.14 – The recovery of the watch market
1.15 – Horology today: the trends
Technique: how watches work
2.0 – How watches work
2.1 – How a mechanical watch works
2.1.1 – Mainspring and barrel
2.1.2 – Jewels
2.1.3 – Escapement
2.1.4 – Balance wheel
2.1.5 – Shock-absorbing systems
2.1.6 – Winding: manual and automatic watches
2.2 – Electromechanical watches
2.3 – How a quartz watch works
2.4 – Modern evolution in watches
3.0 – Watch elements, techniques and definitions
3.1 – Dials and hands
3.2 – Cases and materials
3.3 – Watch crystals
3.4 – Wristbands and bracelets
3.5 – Finishings and decoration
3.6 – Marks, brands, reference numbers
3.7 – What does Swiss Made mean
4.0 – Movements and complications
4.1 – Pocket watches
4.2 – Dress watches
4.3 – Marriage watches
4.4 – Chronometers
4.5 – Diver watches
4.6 – Antimagnetic watches
4.7 – Regulateurs
4.8 – Pilots watches and fliegers
4.9 – Trench and military watches
4.10 – Complicated watches
4.10.1 – Calendars
4.10.2 – Chronographs1
4.10.3 – GMT and world timers
4.10.4 – Chime repeaters, sonneries and alarm watches
4.10.5 – Tourbillons, carousels and open-hearts
4.10.6 – Automates and exotic complications
4.10.7 – Ultra-thin watches
4.10.8 – Skeletonized watches
The Watch Manual: the best book on watches
Style and manners
5.0 – Style and manners: the Seven Phases
5.1 – The great debate: fashion watches
5.2 – Ladies’ watches
5.3 – Watch etiquette
5.4 – Sizing a watch on the wrist
5.5 – Is a watch an investment?
5.6 – The aspiring collector
5.7 – How to create a collection
5.8 – The six-watch collection
5.9 – Ten watches you need to know
Buying. selling, servicing watches
6.0 – Knowing, buying and taking care of watches
6.1 – New watches and the waiting list
6.2 – Second-wrist, vintage and historical watches
6.3 – Haute horlogerie
6.4 – The shady world: homages, frankens and replicas
6.5 – Watch modding
6.6 – Refurbishing a watch
6.7 – Servicing a watch
6.8 – Buying and selling watches
6.8.1 – Dating the watch
6.8.2 – Checking a broken watch: the common problems
6.8.3 – The quick checklist of watch quality
6.8.4 – Buying a watch online
6.8.5 – Taking care of your watches
6.8.6 – Water resistance, dos and don’ts
7.0 – Modern watch manufacturing
7.1 – Creating a new brand: the trends of the industry
7.2 – Watch manufacturing case histories
7.3 – Crowdsourcing and its characteristics
7.4 – The big events in horology
Icons of horology
8.0 – Icons of horology
8.1 – People
8.2 – Brands
Audemars Piguet – Baume Mercier – Bell & Ross – Blancpain – Breguet – Breitling – Bulgari – Bulova – Cartier – Casio – Certina – Chopard – Citizen – Corum – Doxa – Ebel – Eberhard – Edox – Eterna – Fortis – FP Journe – Franck Muller – Frederique Constant – Girard Perregaux – Glycine – Hamilton – Hublot – Invicta – IWC – Jaeger Le Coultre – Jaquet Droz – Lange & Sohne – Longines – Louis Erard – Maurice Lacroix – Mido – Montblanc – Movado – Nomos – Omega – Orient – Original Glashutte – Oris – Panerai – Patek Philippe – Piaget – Rado – Raymond Weil – Richard Mille – Roger Dubuis – Rolex – Seiko – Sinn – Squale – Swatch – Tag Heuer – Tissot – Tudor – Ulysse Nardin – Universal Geneve – Vacheron Constantin – Vulcain – Wyler Vetta – Zenith – Zodiac
9.0 – Practical resources
9.1 – Notes on watch servicing
9.2 – Tools and supplies
9.3 – References and bibliography
9.4 – Glossary
9.5 – Test: find your ideal watch
The Watchonomicon is an independent blog, written and managed by The Watch Manual. The Watch Manual is NOT affiliated in any way with any brand mentioned in articles.