Brendan’s Alternate Tagline for Hands of Time:
Watch this! (I’ll see myself out.)
The story of the watch by a horologist.
Fact for Non-History People:
That weird little pocket inside the pocket of your jeans? It was put there to hold a pocket watch.
Fact for History Nerds:
As of 2020, the most complicated watch in the world has nearly 3,000 parts.
My Take on Hands of Time:
History can sneak up on you. For instance, I had no idea I would read a book about watchmaking this year. I am equally as surprised that I loved it.
Hands of Time by Rebecca Struthers seems like the type of idea which is not going to work unless it’s thousands of pages. After all, how do you write about how humans deal with keeping time? It’s inconceivable that a narrative can discuss the origins of Rolex and Swatches. And yet, here we are. Struthers approaches this history with an eye for interesting stories which sum up large portions of the human relationship with time. And yes, you do learn about both Rolex and Swatch. Long live terrible fashion choices from the 80s and 90s.
The one criticism I have is actually a compliment. Struthers points out how particularly “uncool” her choice of profession is. She has quick asides about her own journey, but she often pivots back to the main story. I disagree with her “uncoolness.” Her passion for what she is doing alongside her husband is exceedingly cool and I would have loved a bit more on her own journey to being a master watchmaker. However, if she was trying to leave the reader wanting more, then she nailed it.
(This book was provided as an advance copy by Netgalley and Harper Books.)
A fun book which is interesting all the way through. Buy it here!