For the serious collector, a well-rounded library of watch books is a must. As timepieces continue to grow in popularity around the world, the market for fresh books about the genre keeps expanding. The latest wave includes more brand-specific explorations, like Reverso and Accutron that are ready for your coffee table, but we also find a deep family history in The Cartiers, as well as highly specialized round-ups of pilots watches in Air Time and some of haute horology’s best in Independent Watchmakers.
The Cartiers: The Untold Story Behind the Jewelry Empire
Written by Francesca Cartier Brickell—the granddaughter of Jean-Jacques Cartier, the last family member to own and operate any part of the eponymous business—this book offers fresh and compelling new insight into the jewelry empire. Brickell’s nearly 600-page family history is based on a trunk full of family correspondence going back generations and offers an in-depth look not only into the creation of the French luxury house, but also the inner familial dynamics throughout the generations. As much a portrait of the luxury markets of the 19th and 20th centuries as it is a family history, The Cartiers will draw you in for the watches and other magnificent creations, but will hold you until the end with the endless drama of creating one of the world’s greatest luxury brands while surviving multiple wars, economic downturns and much more.
Air Time: Watches Inspired by Aviation, Aeronautics, and Pilots
Author Nicholas Foulkes is an unimpeachable expert in Swiss Watchmaking (and cigars, and mens’ style, and so on). The multi-hyphenate scholar has a unique way of putting luxury products in their historical and cultural context. Together with Assouline, he has created a book worthy of any serious watch-centric library. It takes you through the journey of the instantly recognizable flip-face timepiece from its various iterations over the years to the incredible personal inscriptions and designs that have decorated its canvas. At its inception the Reverso was a sports watch that reflected the changing lifestyles of the early 20th century, but it continues to live on nearly 100 years later morphing into what is now regarded as a classic dress watch and Reverso will remain the definitive text on the topic for some time to come.
While Accutron wouldn’t find itself in the same company as many of the watches in the other tomes in this roundup, the book offers a fascinating window into the brand’s strange Space-Age world of the electro-static movements that pre-date the quartz movement. As one of the very few American watch companies to survive the quartz crisis, Bulova’s Accutron was a prescient and important development in watchmaking. The watches themselves are spectacularly avant-garde in style, and the old advertising and other goodies that litter this image-heavy publication from Assouline make for a rather unique vantage point from which to view America in the 20th Century. Written by watch expert and Hodinkee editor-in-chief, Jack Forester, and co-authored and edited by Aaron Sigmond, it offers palpable curiosity and encyclopedic knowledge, hooking us from the get-go.