About my Watch Collector Books
The selection of Books is as personal as the selection of watches. I have not read all those books page by page. Mostly I use them as references.
"Must Have Periodicals"
The most popular periodical is probably THE COMPLETE PRICE GUIDE TO WATCHES by COOKSEY SHUGART. The book contains an unbelievable wealth of information, charts, tables, drawings besides its reference pages for each brand. What is missing is an index, that is a disadvantage, but as soon as you have quickly read it, you will familiarize yourself with the book's structure (the table of contents is quite detailed) and find quickly what you are looking for. I remember several TimeZone threads on the Public Forum where people complained that Shurgarts prices where at least 30% to 50% too low and said that the watches at local watch fairs were never as low as indicated in the price guide. I am not a watch fair visitor, so I cannot really comment from my own experience but since those statements on TZ where made by "old boys" I found this worthwhile mentioning.
Another popular publication is the WRIST WATCH ANNUAL. Probably like the Shugart (no idea why this seems to be the book's short name) a must in every WIS' bookshelf. However, by far not all brands are represented in the book. Very valuable again, the little historic summary about each brand at the beginning of that brand's model overview. In my opinion, the Wrist Watch Annual is definitely worth buying.
Besides those popular books or annuals, I have been buying the watch books as I found them. Bangkok is in Thailand, in Thailand people use dominantly the Thai script which is derived from Sanskrit. This explains why there is a lot less variety here in the book shops and also the very expensive prices. The books are probably flown in, at least the price in Thai Baht strongly suggests that. Luckily Kinokuniya, a Japanese book store chain opened a couple of shops in Bangkok in the early 90ies and suddenly, there were a lot more books in Latin script available. Latest Update March 2006: our Japanese bookshop Kinokuniya opened a huge new shop in the latest shopping mall Siam Paragon and that shop now carries a lot more watch books.
Facit: You probably want to have the Shugart if you are into buying/selling or collecting. And if you are thinking about getting a new model, the Wrist Watch Annual seems to be the most convenient way to get an overview over the current offerings, even it focuses on more expensive watches. Maybe the time is right now for a "Poor Man's" Wristwatch Annual? Because I do not believe that the global economy will undergo a peaceful change back to a time when a CEO was happy if he earned 20 times the salary of one of his moving belt workers (citing Peter Drucker). It seems that rich and poor will be further drifting apart, one reason why the "Poor Man's" Watch Forum - created in a turning point of the global economy in 2001 - is continually growing.
"Must Have References" for collectors - well, this depends on what you are collecting!
Foreword - "What is a Collector?"
Please let me note that I am very
open when it comes to the definition of "the collector". I believe that a
collector that collects e.g. inexpensive Russian time pieces - a theme collector
- is as legitimate as the collector that only collects USD 100'000 plus
complications, e.g. Tourbillions or Minute Repeaters. Also someone that simply
buys watches he likes and ends up with a rather large collection (that would be
my type of collector, someone said not collecting, but amassing watches) is in
my eyes not much different from a professional collector that browses watch
fairs and buys only watches that increase in value. If it is the passion and
love for watches that relates us, then I do not really see why we need to have a
segmentation or a categorization.
There are as many opinions as there are collectors, I simply wanted to stress, that I have always refused of being "categorized" and that I have always bought the watches I liked plus a lot of impulsive buys of course. Also what might be a bit different to many collectors is that I have - with maybe 5 exceptions - kept all the watches I have bought. Except for very few of my watches, future resale value was not a buying criteria, I simple wanted something new to play with.
Whatever you are collecting (remember, we talk wrist watches), I think the following 3 books make excellent additions to any watch book shelf. I personally would buy those again without hesitating. Please click on the links to go the pages describing each of those books.Wristwatches - Armbanduhren - Montres (English, German, French next to each other!) - I really like to get this language training while browsing this very well made watch book. It discusses current brands and I think of one this book's strength is the short history that preceeds nice pictures of typical models for each brand. A classic!
AUTOMATIC Wristwatches From Switzerland - this is another must have for its lists of calibers and functions for each brand. Even only movements until 1970 are listed, I found the caliber tables plus the watch photos from the front and the movement with removed rotors have often helped me to identify watches where www.google.com has failed filter information from the web. This is in my eyes a great complement to finding information online.AUTOMATIC Wristwatches From Germany, England, France, Japan, Russia, & the USA - as much as the Swiss book above is a must have, if you are interested in non-Swiss watches, then this book is a must have. The book also offers a great historical insights and often compares caliber development between e.g. Switzerland and Japan.
Facit: since in my personal opinion, there is no "one collector definition", it will very much depend on your preferences which books to add to your collection. For myself, an often impulsive and passionate "watch amasser", the three classics above have been and are great resources. Also when "hanging out on the forum" I was often able to help people identifying movements or models or e.g. find an older name for "Jaeger-LeCoultre" (LeCoultre) or find the date when the winged Longines logo was introduced. The list goes on, often you will have no problem finding information about things that happened after 1990 online, but a lot of the information from the watch times before is still in printed books.
Picture from Feb 2005, later additions not shown