Gifting A Book To A Watch Lover This Holiday Season? Here’s A Selection Of Horological Tomes To Consider
Any time is an appropriate time to gift a watch lover with a book containing well-written words and beautiful photos of watches.
At Quill & Pad we love reading books as much as we love writing them (on occasion). Here is a selection of inspiring books published in 2022, suitable for gifting or reading at any time of year.
Selling The Crown: The Secret History of Marketing Rolex by Brendan Cunningham, PhD
Brendan Cunningham is a passionate watch lover and professor of economics. What happens when you combine these two fields? Cunningham’s unique take on happenings in the watch world, that’s what.
Selling The Crown is Cunningham’s passion project come to fruition, one he started during the locked down days of COVID-19 as an “archival research project.” This very involved story traces the mid-twentieth century marketing activities of Rolex’s “Mad Men”-like agency J. Walter Thompson in the post-World War II era, showing how intricately laid the plans were and their long-lasting effects.
Industry insiders have always known how skillfully Rolex has employed marketing, but Cunningham’s revelations – which include information about British veterans of covert warfare and propaganda within the ranks of the advertising agency – take the whole thing to another level altogether.
This is a compelling tale religiously researched and skillfully woven without relying on conventional marketing or lore. Cunningham shows how Rolex’s reputation was at least partially built using “strategies and tactics sharpened through secretive global conflict,” certainly an angle no pure watch writer would have ever thought of.
Selling The Crown: The Secret History of Marketing Rolex by Brendan Cunningham, PhD can be purchased through Amazon for $39. You also won’t want to miss Cunningham’s own blog, Horolonomics; his one hour-long appearance on Tim Mosso’s podcast; or his writings here at Quill & Pad.
Horological Alchemy by Denis Flageollet
Denis Flageollet is a deep thinker, which is most certainly one of the big reasons that De Bethune has such an avid following among the modern crop of independents. Well, that and the Star Trek-like visuals that grace the watches and greatly appeal to us watch “nerds.”
Horological Alchemy physically looks like a notebook, and in a sense it is a notebook – chock full of Flageollet’s personal musings on the craft of watchmaking and how it relates to the materials used. So if you were expecting to see big, beautiful glossies of De Bethune’s greatest hits, this book is not for you. It is for those intensely fascinated by watchmaking and the thoughts of perhaps one of the greatest watchmakers of our time as they pertain to his calling.
I love how Flageollet names the people who influenced his career and explains who they are in footnotes right on the same page – even if these people were or are associated with other brands. It is refreshing to see Flageollet as he is without worrying about marketing and the way that he praises his contemporaries. For example: “. . . Philippe Dufour . . . highly talented and recognized as a creator of watches with grandes complications. Dufour is undeniably a role model; he embodies the spirit of independence in watchmaking. . . “
Illustrated with numerous archive sketches and drawings, this book also delves deep into Flageollet’s thoughts on the current industry, perhaps best exemplified by the sections entitled “The Swiss Made charade” and “The vagaries of perception and communication.” Critical? Very.
With 188 pages and a price of CHF 48, this book is well worth an afternoon of any watch lover’s time. Catch a glimpse inside the ticks and tocks of Flageollet attempting to make sense of watchmaking in the twenty-first century.
For more information, please visit www.editionsfavre.com/livres/horological-alchemy.
MB&F: The First Fifteen Years, a Catalogue Raisonné by Suzanne Wong and William Massena
What is a catalogue raisonné? It’s a comprehensive, annotated listing of all the known works of an artist or sculptor, including the details of each work. Relatively common in the art world, such a document has never been made for a watch brand. But it is a fitting thing to do in celebration of 15 years of one of horology’s most creative brands.
The MB&F Catalogue Raisonné contains information about every single MB&F timepiece produced from the years 2005 to 2020, including prototypes and pieces that were never officially announced, for a total of 160 product variations.
The Catalogue Raisonné begins with 30 pages about the history of MB&F and its founder Maximilian Büsser written by journalist Suzanne Wong. The book is then divided into chapters on the Horological Machines, the Legacy Machines, and the co-creations. These were documented by William Massena working closely with the MB&F team.
Even if you think you know everything about MB&F, you will still find some surprises here among the more than 400 photos and 312 pages of creative text.
MB&F: The First Fifteen Years, a Catalogue Raisonné was published in a first run of 2,000 copies for CHF 198 that is now sold out. A new edition has been promised for spring of 2023. You can put your name on the waiting list here: https://shop.madgallery.ch/products/mb-f-catalogue-raisonne.
The Watchmakers by Harry Lenga and Scott Lenga
It would be nice if The Watchmakers by Scott and Harry Lenga were a work of fiction, but (unfortunately) this book details the true story of Harry Lenga’s survival in the ghettos and slave labor camps of occupied Poland and Austria during World War II.
Against the backdrop of the soul-crushing, heart-wrenching threat of death every single instant, Harry Lenga and his brothers survived against all odds thanks to their ability to repair watches.
This fast-paced book reads fluidly like a novel, but it is in reality a memoir and an important historical document. And a fascinating read for anyone interested in history or watchmaking – or both.
Order it in paperback, hardcover, or as a Kindle edition on Amazon.
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