The Watch – A Twentieth Century Style History

The Watch – A Twentieth Century Style History

A Tome for All Time

With Christmas, Chanukah and other gift-giving/receiving events nearing, note please the timely (see what I did there?) arrival of a superb new book you’ll want both for yourself and to present to a fellow watch lover. Published this week, The Watch – A Twentieth Century Style History serves both the newbie and the seasoned enthusiast, and it’s a book you’ll leave on coffee-table or bedside for constant referral.

Written by Alexander Barter, its theme is defined by the subtitle, which nicely encapsulates the period it covers, and which celebrates the wristwatch’s birth and ascent to its current desirability. Barter worked for more than a decade at Sotheby’s watch division, becoming its Deputy Worldwide Head in 2005. A member of the Antiquarian Horological Society, je is also a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers, the oldest surviving horological institution in the world.

Patek Philippe Chronometro Gondolo, sold by Gondolo & Labouriau in 1924. An 18 ct yellow gold oversized curved rectangular wristwatch
The American astronaut Donn Eisele’s Omega Speedmaster wristwatch, worn on the Apollo 7 mission in October 1968. Omega Speedmaster Ref. S105.012-65, made c. 1965. A stainless steel chronograph wristwatch with black dial and registers

As both an introduction to the subject and a cornucopia of information, the volume is a delight: 336 pages, filled with glorious images and covering a broad selection of pieces to create a comprehensive overview of modern horology. Barter recounts the evolution of the watch from its transition out of the pocket and onto the wrist, through to the advent of electronic watches, ending with the resurgence of mechanical watches since the 1980s. As a handy reference for historians, the content is arranged chronologically, with each decade also presented in the context of international events and trends.

A full review will appear in Revolution’s UK print edition, No 24, but for the time being, note that the book is, in addition to being of impossibly high print quality, is also a bargain at a mere £45. Visit or your country’s Amazon site for further information and ordering instructions.