Monday, August 1, 2016

Book Review - Legendary Wristwatches: From Audemars Piguet to Zenith by Stefan Muser

***From Apprentice Corner

Legendary Wristwatches, written by watch expert and auctioneer Stefan Muser of the Auktionen Dr. Crott auction house, provides an overview of some of the most beautiful and important timepieces to have emerged in the last one hundred years.

The book is largely pictorial, most watches having an entire page photograph accompanied by a short description of the piece. It uses a 6-star rating system; a 1-star watch being an 'interesting and trouble-free entry level wristwatch', whilst 6-stars represents an 'exceptionally rare delicacy for ambitious collectors'.

Rolex Reference 6542, the most sought after Oyster Perpetual GMT-Master of them all, featuring the classic blue and red "Pepsi" bezel.

The author has gone to great lengths in order to photograph some of these watches. Many of them are extremely rare, being either museum pieces or very limited in number, such as the Patek Philippe Chronograph Ref. 130, of which only three white gold copies are known to exist. The Ref. 130's movement leaves one lost for words at the mere sight of it. Finished to the highest possible standard, few other movements even come close.

I’ve actually owned this book for a while now, having flicked through it countless times, so I didn’t need to read through it to write this. It's one of those books you'll forever find yourself coming back to, surely finding something that piques your interest each time. Though I've seen many of these types of books, this one remains my favourite because of its carefully curated collection. Indeed, most 'best of' type books read like huge catalogues, with hundreds of watches but no real focus.

The sporty, the elegant, the complicated and the downright zany - it includes them all, but the author's expertise allows him to narrow the watches featured to those that best represent the zeitgeist of their time, doing an excellent job of tracing the key developments over the last one hundred years whilst capturing the trends and events that influenced them.

This can be seen in sections like 'On the Way to Automatic', which documents some of the pieces that emerged shortly after the period when Rolex's patent on the automatic movement expired. It was a time of great innovation in the industry in which many brands produced some of their most technical and notable pieces. Rolex itself, not one to be left behind, was to produce some of its most iconic pieces in this era, such as the fabled
"Pre-Daytona" Chronograph Ref. 6238:

The Mechanical Renaissance section goes on to show some of the responses from various brands to the flood of quartz watches. Those that doubled-down and continued in the mechanical tradition were to produce some of the finest - and rarest - pieces to ever emerge. The Breguet Tourbillon (a tourbillon by the inventor of the tourbillon) and the Audemars Piguet Perpetual Calendar pictured below are two such examples, likely to be highly coveted by collectors into perpetuity.

Every watch enthusiast should own a copy of Legendary Wristwatches. It'll look damned nice on your coffee table and serve as a conversation starter for years to come.

The only downside is you'll start lusting after that which you can't afford or that which money can't buy. Well, we can all dream.

Until next time,

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