We often write about cool watches of both the modern and vintage variety. For a true appreciation of the context of these creations by Rolex, Omega, and company, however, it's best to view them as merely the most recent developments in an obsession with mechanical timekeeping that has obsessed innovators and inventors for centuries.
Switzerland's Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH), which stages the annual SIHH watch extravaganza, is dedicated to safeguarding fine watchmaking. They've partnered with authors and experts François Chaille and Dominique Fléchon and publishing house Flammarion on a new volume called The Beauty of Time that examines the traditions of the trade from the Middle Ages to the present day.
Take the skeletonized Rebillier Quarter Repeating Watch (above), which looks incredibly contemporary but was designed in 1855 for the Exposition Universelle in Paris. Or the Lip MACH 2000 (below), designed by Roger Tallon in 1975 to "sweep aside the shackles of classic watchmaking forms."
From incredibly complex pendulum clocks to pocket and wristwatches that are simply stunning, this catalog of lavishly photographed horological wonders is accompanied by text that "elucidates the cultural and artistic contexts" in which they were created, providing perspective on the technical advances of each period and the "evolution of aesthetic tastes over time."
Be it the pocket watch that Napoleon wore into battle or one of MB&F's fanciful robot-like "time machines", each piece is chosen for its unique design as much as its contribution to the art of timekeeping which FHH has sworn to advance and uphold.
Enthusiasts, collectors and lovers of history and beautiful objects will want to add this book to their library before much more time has elapsed. Amazon currently has it for just $59, which is $25 off its MSRP.