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Todays Date
22 February 2018

The Wristwatch Handbook: REVIEW

From the Publishing house:

Publisher: ACC Art Books
ISBN: 9781851498291
Pages: 352
Illustrations: 470 in color, most press photos and some original photos sourced from interesting photographers
Binding: hardcover
Price: $85 / £50

  • A fantastic reference work for the novice or the seasoned watch enthusiast
  • Fully illustrated with 470 color photographs
  • Brand-Agnostic. Features a vast array of timepieces from over 90 manufacturers

Despite the functional obsolescence of the mechanical wristwatch (our phones and computers tell more accurate time) the early 21st Century has seen a boom in the development, production, and appreciation of all things horological. Whether it is presented to the collector as an alternative investment, as a feat of micro-mechanical technology, or as a showcase of artisanal mastery, the mechanical wristwatch has never possessed more forms, functions or facets than it does today. The Wristwatch Handbook is written from the epicenter of a renaissance, a place in time between the Quartz revolution and the rise of the smart device – where the mechanical wristwatch is the antidote to the microprocessor and the permanent buzz of your inbox. From the multi-axis tourbillon, to the split-second chronograph, to the sidereal sky chart, The Wristwatch Handbook covers it all and does so with more than 470 rich illustrations from over 90 of the World’s leading brands.

The book is separated into two sections. The first section provides the reader with a comprehensive understanding of the mechanical movement. Its chapters explore power, transmission, distribution and regulation illustrating the basic concepts before considering the innovation and complexity that takes place further toward the cutting edge. From the fifty-day power reserve, to the constant force mechanism, and the 1,000Hz mechanical escapement, section 1 will allow the reader to understand and appreciate what is happening beneath the dial of their watch. Section two allows the reader to take this understanding and apply it to the vast range of complications (functions) that exist in modern horology. Each chapter showcases a distinct category of complication. For example, the regatta timer, pulsometer, and monopusher chronograph join a host of others in a chapter entitled ‘Recording Lapses of Time’; The power reserve indicator, dynamograph, and crown position indicator are featured in a chapter for ‘Power and Performance Indication’; The moon phase indicator, annual calendar, and planetarium can be found in the ‘Astronomical Complications’ chapter. Once the functional categories are exhausted, the final three chapters explore whimsical complications that have little regard for practical function, novelty time indication, and the ‘super-complicated’ watch – a rare breed of timepiece that houses an intimidating host of complications featured throughout the book. Upon completion of The Wristwatch Handbook the reader will be able to identify even the most exotic complication from across the room, and be able to share their appreciation and understanding of what makes it so useful and compelling.

The Wristwatch Handbook is “brand agnostic”, using only those watches that most aptly illustrate the given subject-matter. As a consequence the book places equal emphasis on the classic and the cutting edge, on watches produced in large volume or exclusive runs, by industry-leading technology or at the hand of a master. In doing so the book provides an unparalleled range of watches from over 90 brands, allowing the reader to determine for themselves which brands, complications, and styles they will build their collection from.


I have always had a fascination with watches and clocks. I have disassembled dozens of watches in an effort to understand their inner working and much to my dismay, my education about clockwork mechanisms is severely lacking. Discovering, The Wristwatch Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide to Mechanical Watches, by Ryan Schmidt, was one of the best treats of 2016.


A 300 page+ encyclopedia of painstakingly accurate detail that will teach you to understand watches in a way that only a true master of clockwork mechanisms could possibly know. To be honest, the book is so detailed that it is overwhelming. I found myself spending hour after hour looking at the artwork, and trying to figure out what watch I had to get for my collection. I discovered so many wonderful pieces from companies that I never knew existed. I gained new respect for many fine instruments of temporal monitoring.


Several items of note about the book. It is not backed by any brands and this means the author can write without prejudice and detail time pieces that are serious as well as those that are full of whimsy. A true delight. Technical diagrams abound as well as more images than any book should ever possess. It is hard not to get excited every-time I see the book and I find myself looking at people’s watches as I meander about the city.


Even if you never had a thought about collecting watches, you will discover after a casual glance at the book, that you just have to go buy a good watch and then you will discover the ones that you want cost more than a good car. I am placing my copy on my coffee table with the hopes of sparking conversation with guests.


About the Author

Ryan Schmidt has spent over a decade cultivating his enthusiasm for mechanical wristwatches. Through his travels, scholarship, and endless curiosity he has amassed a network of industry insiders from brand CEOs, to watchmakers, journalists, auction specialists and fellow enthusiasts.

A qualified management accountant with a diploma in law and a masters degree in human rights, Ryan has worked in internal audit for a range of global corporations in both London and New York. On occasion he writes articles for the watch press. Born in the United Kingdom to US parents, he currently lives with his family in New York. Ryan is a member of the Horological Society of New York and holds a certificate in watchmaking knowledge issued by the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie.

Ryan Schmidt

You can learn more about the author at his website:




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