The Best Vintage Watch Books To Buy

The Best Vintage Watch Books To Buy


Whether you’re looking for a beautiful coffee table book or a gift for a vintage watch enthusiast, here you’ll find a curated collection of the best vintage watch books out there according to expert Alan Wood.

From reference books to more generalist titles, Alan has selected books that will enrich every vintage watch lover’s life, providing expert knowledge while celebrating the fascinating history of vintage watches.

Celebrating the Captivating Stories of Vintage Watch History

Good vintage watch books reveal the pioneering feats of craftsmanship, historical significance, and the evolution behind some of the world’s most celebrated brands.

Through these enjoyable and informative watch books, you can immerse yourself in the fascinating world of watchmaking heritage as both a source of enjoyment, education and entertainment.

Patek Philippe Investing in Wristwatches

by Osvaldo Patrizzi and Mara Cappelletti

Patek Philippe: Investing in Wristwatches offers detailed insights into the world of authenticating and pricing high-value wristwatches, for all collectors from amateur to connoisseur.

This publication includes the vast majority of key Patek models, along with their relevant auction results. Each timepiece has been carefully selected by legendary horological expert Osvaldo Patrizzi. These wristwatches excel for a diverse range of reasons, including technical excellence, auction records, design and anecdotal history. A description of each watch is accompanied by its picture, reference and sales values

Moonwatch Only: The Ultimate Omega Speedmaster Guide

by Grégoire Rossier and Anthony Marquié

Anthony Marquié is a collector of both modern and vintage watches, including many icons from the Omega production. In his knowledgeable guide, he tells the captivating tale of the Omega Speedmaster. With encyclopaedic detail, the book chronicles the Speedmaster’s extraordinary journey, its lunar connection, and myriad variations that evolved throughout its history.

The 494-page book is divided into 5 chapters, which range from Introduction, Main Components and Accessories (a mere 190 pages), The Models (240 pages), Choosing and Using, and finally, Appendices with a useful 3-page, fold-out Identification Aid that summarises all models and main specifications.

Moonwatch Only is a must-have for Speedmaster enthusiasts and is one of the best books ever written about a single watch model.

Vintage Rolex Sports Models, A Complete Visual Reference & Unauthorised History

by Martin Skeet and Nick Urul

This unauthorised history is a page turning exploration into vintage Rolex sports watches. Lavishly illustrated, it delves into each model’s evolution, providing the reader with invaluable insights and a glimpse into Rolex’s fascinating past. Colour photographs vividly depict each watch model, while a multitude of diagrams offers valuable insights into the evolution of each design.

The publication features an assortment of twenty-two elusive Rolex brochures. Each is accompanied by an abundance of catalogue snapshots and recorded transaction values for sports models auctioned between 1997 and 2017 at global venues such as Christie’s and Sotheby’s. Furthermore, there’s a contemporary pricing guide for all showcased models thoughtfully incorporated within the book.

The Wristwatch Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide to Mechanical Wristwatches

by Ryan Schmidt

Schmidt’s comprehensive handbook seamlessly blends technical depth with accessibility, guiding readers through the history of mechanical wristwatches.  From the multi-axis tourbillon to the split-second chronograph, to the sidereal sky chart, The Wristwatch Handbook covers it all.

The book is separated into two sections. The first section provides 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. Section two allows the reader to take this understanding and apply it to the vast range of complications (functions) that exist in modern horology.

The final three chapters explore whimsical complications that have little regard for practical function but inspire nonetheless. After reading this book you’ll 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 volume boasts 470 colour illustrations, showcasing timepieces from an impressive array of 90 distinct watchmaking brands. This is definitely a coffee table book that will pique the interest of watch connoisseurs and collectors.

Wristwatches: A Connoisseur’s Guide

by Frank Edwards 

This book is a practical and informative source of reference to the best in wristwatches. It tells the story of the development of the timepiece from sundial to solar-power, providing hints on starting a collection and what to look for in a good watch.

The main directory lists over 50 prestigious watch brands, from the Swiss watchmakers who make and finish watches by hand, to the high-tech companies whose multi-functional timepieces are marvels of scientific ingenuity. Each entry gives the history of the manufacturer and discusses the flagship watch and product range, with advice on the hallmarks of a good watch.

A great all-around book for watch enthusiasts and new collectors.

The Best of Time: Rolex Wristwatches: An Unauthorized History

by James M. Dowling and Jeffrey P. Hess

Dowling and Hess deliver another unauthorised historical gem that explores Rolex’s legacy through anecdotes and expertise. The Best of Time casts a spotlight on the brand’s remarkable journey, making it an essential addition to any Rolex enthusiast’s library.

This lavishly illustrated classic, now in a revised and expanded third edition, details over 30 newly discovered wristwatches in the new volume, along with new information and a revised value guide. In addition, there are detailed looks at some of Rolex’s legendary movements.

The authors have captured the beauty of Rolex watches in colour photography and present the most thorough and extensive history written about the company. Information for collectors and current market values of the watches make this a truly useful volume and one that will be cherished by watch lovers around the world.

The Book of Rolex

by Jens Hoy

The Book of Rolex demonstrates how each model fits its social milieu, present and past. It also addresses the multitude of fakes on the market, including the so-called ‘Frankensteins’ – watches made from a mixture of real parts and forgeries, which are notoriously hard to spot – imparting all the skills needed to pick counterfeits out of a line-up.

A holistic view of Rolex watches, this book promises to be as timeless as the brand itself.

Should you be considering a Rolex, this book will convince you of its worth as an investment.

Heuer Monaco: Design Classic

by Richard Crosthwaite

Collector Richard Crosthwaite shares his passion with this 120-page book, Heuer Monaco – Design Classic, featuring high-resolution images of all 15 known production and test dial executions for the vintage Heuer Monaco (1969-1975).{image: heuer-monaco-design-classic-cover_600.jpg}

The book tells the story of the inception of the Monaco, how the watch is perhaps best known – in Le Mans with Steve McQueen), and the start of the world’s first automatic chronograph – the Chronomatics.

The book is packed with pertinent information, such as how to spot fake or repainted dials, a list of correct serial numbers and numbers known, and production estimates on the rare variants. You won’t find another book out there that can give you such detail on the Heuer Monaco.

100 Years of Rolex. 1908 – 2008

by Guido Mondani

Weighing in at 4kg, it is a hefty 338-page hardback published in 2008 and is packed with information that’s perfect as a coffee table book. Created to celebrate 100 years of the Rolex wristwatch brand, this book describes and illustrates many of the fine watches produced, together with period advertisements, etc. A ‘must have’ for Rolex enthusiasts.

100 Years of Rolex is a prestigious edition which explains all Rolex watches, showing their technical characteristics through high quality images and detailed descriptions. This is the clearest and most complete work to understand a century of collectable Rolex watches. Packed with useful information and curiosities such as for example: – Rolex watches sold at auction,  Rolex on small and big screens and special Rolex watches. The results of the international auctions are highlighted for many of the watches highlighted and the book also provides the updated Rolex price list.

Perhaps one of the most comprehensive books about Rolex ever published, this vast title will bring joy to Rolex lovers for years to come.

Timeless Treasures The Fascination of Certified Pre-Owned Watches

by Ralph Jahns

In a 2021 study, McKinsey describes Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) within the watch market as ‘the industry’s fastest-growing segment’. The trade in pre-owned watches is expected to overtake that in new watches by the middle of the decade.

‘Certified Pre-Owned’ is thus a booming trend. Pre-owned watches are becoming increasingly popular for various reasons: CPO makes classic watches and exclusive rarities accessible to connoisseurs, but also to new customers.

Since the fine pieces are authenticated by experts, the market offers security. Above all, however, the CPO business enables an emotional approach: buyers get watches with a history that they can perpetuate themselves and then pass on to the next generation. Dive into the fascinating world of watches and watch collecting with Timeless Treasures.

The Watch Book Compendium – Revised Edition

by Gisbert L. Brunner and Christian Pfeiffer-Belli

The Watch Book I and II provides expansive knowledge from renowned watch expert and historian Gisbert L. Brunner. Alongside almost 1,000 high-quality colour photographs brings together the latest innovations and most important names in top-end timekeeping in one masterful publication.

Readers can feast their eyes and minds on a magnificently illustrated and well-documented chronicle of the world’s best timepieces. Portraits of more than 40 watch brands, from premium manufacturers such as Patek Philippe, Rolex, and Cartier to watches from the affordable luxury segment, and all the way through to timepieces from the chronometric creme de la creme. The book explores their unique features and quirks and learns about the remarkable breakthroughs and innovative technical developments that have contributed to the history of the watch.

This volume also includes a helpful glossary of important terms, making it an absolute must for both timepiece experts and collectors and those new to the world of watch artistry.

Omega: A Journey Through Time

by Marco Richon

This book is a captivating chronicle of Omega’s evolution. From its inception to modern innovations, Marco Richon’s book paints a vivid portrait of Omega, making history come alive on each page.

The book contains photos and information about nearly every model of watch ever produced by Omega. Packed with thousands upon thousands of photographs in full colour, it faithfully records the timeless beauty that drove so many collectors to purchase their first Omega watch.

Omega created more than 15000 main models, which is why the current edition represents only the tip of the iceberg. Nevertheless, page after page, chapter after chapter, it is jammed with photos, advertisements and descriptions of watches from all eras. The technological achievements by Omega and the pieces worn by celebrities and heads of state are noted as well.

Chronograph – Wristwatches To Stop Time

By Lanf Gerd R & Meis Reinhard

Wrist chronographs are one of the most popular collecting areas in the broad spectrum of wristwatches due to their reasonable price and large numbers. Until now, they have not been studied systematically. Land and Meis offer this outstanding identification book. The text deals with the dial of the chronograph and all the indications that can possibly be read from it. There is also a technical section that shows the historical development of the chronograph mechanism.

With collectors in mind, the authors have arranged the illustrations by the indications on the dials. Pictures of the movements are always included with those of the chronographs. This outstanding identification book is particularly useful as a reference for collectors, dealers, and auction houses.

Jaeger-LeCoultre: A Guide for the Collector

by Zaf Basha

This comprehensive guide is an invaluable resource for Jaeger-LeCoultre admirers. Written by long-time Jaeger-LeCoultre enthusiast Zaf Basha, the breadth of technical information in this authoritative volume is the only work of its kind. It covers over 140 vintage wristwatch models in exhaustive detail, including their movement calibres, case references, production figures and repair notes, all with stunning colour photographs in this 204-page hardback.

While the author covers the history of LeCoultre from its founding in 1833 to the present, he concentrates on the time period from 1925 to the mid-1970s. This “Golden Age” of LeCoultre is what interests the author the most, and, likewise the bulk of LeCoultre and JLC collectors.

After giving us a brief history of the company, the author takes us on a chronological journey of the company’s major accomplishments in wristwatch manufacture, starting with the Duoplan, and ending with the Caliber 906 chronometers. In between, we find a full and rich discussion of such famous LeCoultre models as the Reverso; the Calendar watches (including triple date moonphase); chronographs; military watches; the Memovox (alarm); and the famous Futurematic.

This is undeniably a great read for enthusiasts of Jaeger-LeCoultre timepieces. Basha’s astute suggestions empower collectors to use this publication as a definitive manual for authenticating genuine Jaeger-LeCoultre timepieces as it meticulously unveils the intricacies of more than 140 vintage Jaeger-LeCoultre watches.

Sourcing Rare Vintage Watch Books

Bear in mind that some of the vintage watch books recommended here may be hard to find. At Vintage Gold Watches, we have an extensive library of vintage watch books, even out-of-print or hard-to-find titles. In some cases, we may have only one or two copies, so you might be able to snap one up. However, if you tell us about a book you are trying to get hold of, we will do our best to source it for you.

Whether buying for yourself or a loved one, no matter what your level of knowledge and interest, these watch books will elevate your appreciation with their rich content.

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Alan Wood, founder of Vintage Gold Watches is a trusted vintage watch dealer with over 35 years of private collecting experience. His deep knowledge and infectious passion for mechanical timepieces have earned him a highly respected reputation in the industry. Vintage Gold Watches, established in 2011, has become a reputable dealer thanks to Alan’s expertise and a skilled team of restorers. Alan’s love for vintage watches started as a young Mechanical Engineer and grew into an obsession. He believes the finest watches were made in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, and he is thrilled to share them with others.