Thursday, May 15, 2008

Cult Watches by Michael Balfour

If you think you know about watches, think again. Internationally respected watch geek Michael Balfour here brings us the watch book to end all watch books. And though the spirit is all things watch-related, the focus is quite different: Balfour takes intimate, elegant, stylish looks at 30 “cult” watches and though he never quite gets around to explaining how the 30 he chose managed to make this particular cut, we can extrapolate -- by what he says about them and by which ones he chose -- that, for his purposes, “cult” is somewhere outside of the mass market. Something special, in many cases handmade and in all cases, highly collectible. And thus we get up close and personal with the Cartier Tank; the Bulova Acutron; the Hamilton Electric; the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona; the Vacheron Constantin Toledo; the Swatch and 24 others.

The chosen 30 get their tea leaves read, in a sense. Balfour profiles each of them in great detail, bringing us history where appropriate, engineering background where called for and throughout provides visual information above and beyond the call.

Cult Watches (Merrell) is beautiful, memorable and deeply interesting. Students of design and those with an interest in modern history will be fascinated. Those who share Balfour’s passion for watches and who love and collect them might just be moved to tears.

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