If you own several watches, then mazel tov — you’re a watch nerd. And wear that term as a badge of honor, because that’s how it’s meant! You’re of a high caliber. (“Calibre?”) You’re part of a movement. You’re strapped.
Fine, enough with the horological dad jokes. But if you’re gonna be a watch nerd, you need to look the part — and to know your stuff. Which is where books come in. You know, the ones that are printed on actual paper? From trees? (Hopefully not too many trees — we need to watch out for the planet.) The Greater Internet is fantastic and all, don’t get us wrong — but having a few well written tomes on your coffee table allows you to really get into the weeds of what makes this hobby so appealing. (Reference numbers. Tables. Histories. Nerd stuff.)
So without further ado, here are a handful of our favorite watch books. Collect ‘em all!
A Man & His Watch
by Matt Hranek
A modern classic. Seriously — upon this fun book’s release, every watch guy and gal and their mother bought a copy. (I think I own two?) The premise is pretty straightforward: gentlemen (and several rogues) discuss a single watch that’s important to them, and each page/story is accompanied by a hi-res photograph of said watch. And we’re talking about interesting people and personal friends of the author, menswear connoisseur and man-about-town Mr. Matt Hranek — business owners, artists, bellhops who have met just about everywhere. Just buy this book, and then buy one for your watch-loving friend. He/she will thank you for it.
The Watch: Thoroughly Revised
by Gene Stone and Stephen Pulverint
This comprehensive tome, organized by brand, was already a classic when it received a thorough revamping in 2018. Original author Gene Stone was joined by Stephen Pulverint, then of HODINKEE — together, these two experts offer insight on everything from the history of timekeeping to a guide for collectors. There are even short profiles of notable watch lovers and several “top 10” lists meant to jump-start one’s knowledge and spark conversation. Accompanied by photographs, annotations, and more in-depth knowledge than you can shake a stick at, this is truly one of the “classic” books on horology that every watch lover should have in their library.
Watches: A Guide
If you’re a regular consumer of the internet’s most prolific watch resource, then chances are you’d be thrilled with this paper version. Written for both the jaded connoisseur as well as the complete newbie and divided into chapters on different types of watches — as well as larger historical and philosophical questions — it’s a beautifully produced work that draws from the experience and expertise of HODINKEE’s editorial team. It’s also published by Assouline, makers of some of the best hi-end art books in the world, so it’ll look great on your coffee table — and make for a fantastic gift for the horologically inclined.
American Wristwatches: Five Decades of Style and Design
by Edward Faber and Stewart Unger
In the first half of the 20th century, the United States fielded a powerhouse industry that was able to compete with the best of European watchmaking for sheer volume and ingenuity of design. This comprehensive book details that history, highlighting with over 600 color photographs the models, brands and stories that make up American horology over 50 years. Whether you’re a dedicated collector of American watches or simply interested in the “hidden” history of this once formidable watchmaking enterprise, American Wristwatches is a book to own.
Drive Time, Sea Time and Air Time Trilogy
by Aaron Sigmund and Mark Bernardo
Noted authority on watches, cars, cigars and more Aaron Sigmund is joined by long-time watch journalist Mark Bernardo on this journey into the minutiae of three different types of tool watches: timepieces for racing, for diving, and for flying. Each book in the series focuses on a different watch type, diving deep into the specifics of brands, history, milestones and more. Heavily illustrated with color photographs and produced by art book powerhouse Rizzoli, these are books geared toward those who are looking to deepen their knowledge within the tool watch realm, and who appreciate a good ol’ utilitarian timepiece.
Retro Watches: The Collector’s Guide
by Josh Sims & Mitch Greenblatt
Not everything in watch collecting is about pricey vintage Rolex and stratospheric, untouched Patek. In this fun book, über-collector Mitch Greenblatt (and founder of Xeric Watches) details 100 of the quirkiest watches in his collection from the 1960s and 1970s. Though it has a heavy emphasis on Swiss watchmaking, it’s a wildly fun romp through the stranger corners of (semi-)modern horology. Wonky colors, odd case shapes, funky dials — this book has it all, and authors Greenblatt and Josh Sims have peppered it with a plethora of detailed information as well as ample color photography.
The Concise Guide to Military Timepieces
by Z.M. Wesolowski
Though pricing information is wildly outdated and the black-and-white photography is…not great, this book still packs tons of useful information on military watches both familiar and obscure. Divided into type (i.e. pocket watches, marine chronometers, dive watches, etc.), it touches upon timepieces from all over the world, from the 1880s through the 1990s. A modern update would be welcome, but still — if you’re into military timepieces, this book is a must-own. There are several obscure watches in here that don’t have very much written about them on the internet at all.
by Alistair Gibbons
Covering watches — mostly chronographs and divers — from between approximately 1930 to 1980, Gibbons' excellent tome offers copious images, text, vintage advertisements and more. A collector and restorer of vintage watches, the author conveys a deep love and appreciation for some of the "deeper cuts" in the watch world. (The Rolex Submariner is of course covered, but so is the Gallet Multi-Chron, and the Universal Genève Space Compax.) Though there are certainly more "scholarly" works available with slicker presentation, Gibbons enthusiasm, choice of references, and knowledge make for a wonderful read for someone deep in the watch hobby.