Hands of Time
A Watchmaker’s History
by Rebecca Struthers
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Pub Date 13 Jun 2023 | Archive Date 08 Aug 2023
An award-winning watchmaker—one of the few practicing the art in the world today—chronicles the invention of time through the centuries-long story of one of mankind’s most profound technological achievements: the watch.
Timepieces have long accompanied us on our travels, from the depths of the oceans to the summit of Everest, the ice of the arctic to the sands of the deserts, outer space to the surface of the moon. The watch has sculpted the social and economic development of modern society; it is an object that, when disassembled, can give us new insights both into the motivations of inventors and craftsmen of the past, and, into the lives of the people who treasured them.
Hands of Time is a journey through watchmaking history, from the earliest attempts at time-keeping, to the breakthrough in engineering that gave us the first watch, to today – where the timepieces hold cultural and historical significance beyond what its first creators could have imagined. Acclaimed watchmaker Rebecca Struthers uses the most important watches throughout history to explore their attendant paradigm shifts in how we think about time, indeed how we think about our own humanity. From an up-close look at the birth of the fakes and forgeries industry which marked the watch as a valuable commodity, to the watches that helped us navigate trade expeditions, she reveals how these instruments have shaped how we build and then consequently make our way through the world.
A fusion of art and science, history and social commentary, this fascinating work, told in Struthers’s lively voice and illustrated with custom line drawings by her husband and fellow watchmaker Craig, is filled with her personal observations as an expert watchmaker—one of the few remaining at work in the world today. Horology is a vast subject—the “study of time.” This compelling history offers a fresh take, exploring not only these watches within their time, but the role they played in human development and the impact they had on the people who treasured them.