Seven Books Any Watch Collector Would Love To Find Under The Tree
These easy readers will fan any enthusiast’s fire for fine watches.
According to science, reading books is good for you. With every page we turn, researchers say, we improve memory and empathy while reducing depression and stress.
If we were to unscientifically extend the logic of this data, reading about watches has got to have even more benefits to the watch lover’s health and well-being. This is why we are recommending the following tomes about time for the book and watch lover on your list.
Andrew Grima: The Father of Modern Jewellery by William Grant
The first major monograph on Andrew Grima, this book covers the career of the most important British jewelry designer of the Swinging Sixties. Andrew Grima represents an era of daring design, and this substantial overview of his work is as opulent as his glittering creations.
Grima was at the forefront of the swinging 1960s London-based jewelry design movement, making over-the-top pieces for royals and the jet set alike. But for watch collectors, his collaborations with Omega provided the most audacious examples of his work.
In 1969, Omega commissioned Grima to design a collection called About Time. This collection’s almost free form, sculptural shapes were a testament to the designer’s artistic impulses. These pieces also alluded to his skills as a jeweler using faceted semi-precious gemstones faceted for crystals.
After Omega, Grima went to work for Hamilton’s Pulsar division in the mid-1970s to design upscale solid gold versions of the company’s pioneering digital electronic watches. These designs emphasized a cleaner, symmetrical style.
Not only does William Grant’s book feature many lush photographs and drawings of both of these collections to illustrate how versatile Grima was as an artist, but it also provides the reader with a new appreciation for the art of watch design in general.
Time to Race: Watches and Speed. Stories of Men and Machines by Cesare Maria Mannucci and John Goldberger
Time to Race is an exhaustive work celebrating the connections between racing and watches. It’s an entertaining read for more casual racing and watch fans, but it still has plenty of insight for those whose knowledge extends beyond the TAG Heuer Monaco or the Paul Newman Daytona.
A collaboration between racing authority Cesare Maria Mannucci and influential watch collector John Goldberger (with forewords by Piero Ferrari and TK Mak), Time to Race presents the stories of the drivers, the cars they drove, and the watches they wore.
Not only is it a worthy investigation of the intersection of automotive and horological innovation between the 1930s and the ‘70s, but it’s also lavishly illustrated with new and archival photos. Mannucci and Goldberger’s passion for automobiles and timepieces lifts off the pages, and that enthusiasm is infectious.
Watches: A Guide by HODINKEE
If you are looking for a book that will appeal to both newbies and more seasoned collectors, Watches: A Guide by Hodinkee provides a fun overview of all things horological.
Hodinkee teamed up with Assouline, the esteemed publisher of oversized and glossy coffee table books, to create this tome. Breaking it down into manageable blocks of information, Watches: A Guide is helpfully composed of nine sections: "A Brief History of Time," "Chronographs," "The Dive Watch," "Travel Time," "Military Watches," "High Complications," "Women and Watches," "Dress Watches," and "Icons." Each chapter is written by a different Hodinkee editor, so you get a lot of fresh takes on the subjects.
Pro-tip for frugal buyers: Watches: A Guide was released late last year, which means that you can now get this 261-page coffee table book for less than its original price tag of $140.
The Vintage Rolex Field Manual: Chevalier Edition by Colin A. White
The Vintage Rolex Field Guide was originally published as a paperback last year and quickly touted as the ultimate resource for Rolex collectors. And it is indeed jam-packed with chats and information on almost every single model the venerable brand has ever released.
This year, the Vintage Rolex Field Guide’s author, Colin White, went one step further with the Vintage Rolex Field Manual: Chevalier Edition – an elegant hardbound, 274-page, 2 lb. coffee table book.
This comprehensive compendium has been updated with images of the most in-demand Rolex models. But the most interesting addition is a section detailing the personal Rolex watches worn by professionals in aviation and spaceflight. Along with some gorgeous archival photography, visuals also include charts, timelines, and more.
Keep the original for fieldwork and add the Chevalier Edition to your library as an at-home reference.
Retro Watches: The Modern Collectors’ Guide by Josh Sims and Mitch Greenblatt
This book is a gift to fans of both design and timepieces. But beware! It might send you down a whole new collecting rabbit hole.
Mitch Greenblatt is the founder of Watchismo and Xeric watches, and his Instagram, @horolovox, is a must-follow for anyone who loves unusual timepieces.
Retro Watches is a modern collector's guide to a world of unusual, rare, and audacious, mostly mid-century models. The late 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s were a transformative time for design, and this book puts avant-garde watchmaking into context.
Not only is the writing clear-headed and the photography appealing, but the philosophy of the book is also intriguing. The book’s authors address the emotion of watchmaking as well as the functionality. Luxury watches sit side-by-side with fashion timepieces. And this book makes you want to collect them all!
Over one hundred watch models are featured, some from long-forgotten watchmakers, some cult models. There are also breakout chapters that discuss the cultural and fashion influences on watchmaking at the time.
ACCUTRON: From the Space Age to the Digital Age by Jack Forster and Aaron Sigmond
Speaking of space-age design, this big book by Jack Forster and Aaron Sigmond is an excellent exploration of Accutron's many amazing accomplishments.
Beginning with the history of Bulova – which created the Accutron as a sub-brand – this book traces the development of the Accutron’s ground-breaking, pre-quartz tuning fork technology to its technically-driven design of the iconic Spaceview model. Ultimately leading to its rebirth as a stand-alone brand.
This substantial book contains 150 pages of Accutron history, so even if you already thought you knew all about the Spaceview and its kin, you will still find yourself surprised with new information. And for the ultimate Accutron nerd, it is also available as part of a box set that includes a brand new Accutron watch for just $4,000.
A Man & His Car: Iconic Cars and Stories from the Men Who Love Them by Matt Hranek ($40, Workman Publishing)
Technically not a book about timepieces, but watch collectors enjoy the finer things in life, and their interests often cross over into things automotive.
Also, author Matt Hranek wrote the insightful A Man & His Watch a few years back, which featured stories that explored people’s connection to their timepieces in a very relatable manner. A Man & His Car provides a peek into the automotive connections of folks like actor/director Ed Burns and his 1969 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme and NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal and his passion for trucks.
Likewise, this book also acknowledges our emotional attachment to our cars with fascinating ephemera from the Henry Ford and Alfa Romeo/Fiat archives as well as original photographs, many taken by Hranek himself.
(Andrew Grima's Book Photography by Liam O'Donnell)