Our Top 10 Must-Read Watchmaking Books

It is well known that the journey to learn all you need to know about watchmaking is never-ending. There are plenty of schools that will teach you about watches, but most of the time, you will have to find the information by yourself. To support you on your quest, here is a selection of our Top Ten watchmaking books. 

By Audrey Humbert

Whether you're a beginner or real connoisseur in the watch industry, the quest for appropriate and relevant watchmaking knowledge is always present. Early on, I realized one way to do so was to read books. But within the overabundance of books that are available, not all of them are good or relevant.  Here is a selection of ten books that you need to have in your horological library.

Watchmaking by George Daniels

One of the leading authorities on independent watchmaking, Isle of Man's George Daniels uncovers the secrets of his masterful creations. Although I haven’t read the entire book, it is a reference that I keep going back to. A great starting point for your library!

Watchmaking by George Daniels – available at Watchprint.com

A Guide to Complicated Watches

While it is a bit technical, it is one of the very first books that I was recommended to read. An indispensable read if you wish to enter the exclusive world of complications.

Written by François Lecoultre – available at Edition A. Simonin

The Marine Chronometer, its History and Development

Between the primitive period of time-telling through the sun and the appearance of the wristwatch, there is an entire century of research and discoveries that have set the basis for modern watchmaking. It is, after all, the 18th century and more specifically, the quest for longitude that led to the development of the finest marine chronometers. Watchmakers mainly in France and England were fiercely competing to supply the most accurate tools to their respective Navy units. These marine chronometers were used to guide ships that were sent after the conquest of new territories.

Written by Rupert T. Gould – Available via Amazon

Tourbillon (French and German only)

Perhaps the only book where you can find anything, or almost everything about the invention of the tourbillon. Did you know that back in 1998, at a conference held in La-Chaux-de-Fonds, Jean-Claude Nicolet, master watch-craftsman, and professor in La Chaux-de-Fonds, dared to say that maybe certain inappropriate qualities are often attributed to the tourbillon? Because at that time, leading brands (also providers of financial support) were trying to reintroduce this complication on the market. Mr. Nicolet was subsequently excluded from the circle where he shared his opinion. However, today more and more people tend to agree that using a tourbillon in a wristwatch is more a matter of marketing than precision. But what is more mesmerizing than looking at a tourbillon? 

Written by Reinhard Meis, available at Abe Books or Amazon.com

Patek Philippe. Wristwatches and Pocket watches

During your quest, you will also have to focus on material related to brands. Some of it is pure marketing but among those are hidden some very valuable publications. For example, a history of Patek Philippe was released in two volumes (Pocket Watches and Wristwatches). A valuable reference when it comes to sharing a brand’s patrimony.

Written by Martin Brunner and Alan Banberry available on Patek.com

The Art of Breguet

Literature-wise, there is plenty that was written about Breguet and you will probably learn new things in each of them. However, The Art of Breguet,  by George Daniels published in 1974, distinguishes itself through its author and rich content. Indeed, George Daniels, an autodidact watchmaker, elevated Abraham Louis Breguet to the rank of a model. The book he wrote appears to be the most complete publication on the work of Abraham-Louis Breguet.

Written by Georges Daniels and available on Amazon.com

Steel Time edited by F.P. Journe

There are only a few keepers of watchmaking patrimony nowadays. These people are so passionate about watchmaking that they dedicate their ttoe on sharing their knowledge and findings. Mr F.P. Journe is one of them. Steel Time will plunge you to the origins of steel watches. This title is part of the collection of books edited by F.P. Journe.

Written by Jean-Claude Sabrier and Georges Rigot – Collection F.P. Journe Invenit et Fecit - available on Abe Books

Richard Daners. Sein Werk Son oeuvre (French and German only)

Language skills are key in your search for horological knowledge. Sometimes you may need to know how to read German, Italian or Japanese to be able to access the information that you are seeking. L’Institut l’Homme et le Temps (Musée International d’Horlogerie de la Chaux-de-Fonds) has released a number of documents that you may want to include in your collection. From Ferdinand Berthoud to Richard Daners, a whole range of watchmaking history is covered. So next stop, La Chaux-de-Fonds (Switzerland)!

Editions “Institut l’Homme et le Temps” available in German only at Amazon.com

Chefs-d’œuvre de la collection Sandoz

The most important collections in the world are key references and need to be considered by collectors of timepieces who would like to discover more in-depth information about their acquisition. This book rarely comes to market, but be on the lookout!

Musée d’Horlogerie Chateau des Monts / Le Locle (Switzerland)

Dictionnary « Le Berner »

It is not a book. It’s a dictionary. This one will help you understand the previously mentioned books unless you're already an advanced reader! 

Written by G.-A. Berner - Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry FH

Now, I have to warn you. Some of the books mentioned are extremely rare. They might prove harder to find than the rarest of watches. I personally am still missing some of them in my collection. So, if you find them, or if we missed one of your favorite books, please share your findings and drop us a line at contact@watchonista.com!




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