A renowned watchmaker unfolds horological history from the sundial to the atomic clock, accenting the inventions and artistry of the craft in a colorfully attractive book. Numerous diagrams show various versions of a device called the escapement, which meets watchmaking's central challenge: the even, continuous release of stored energy to track time. Although the escapement is about 500 years old, improvements have been made to it as recently as 1981. Christianson pairs technical aspects of the craft to the organizational side of watch manufacturing, describing how early modern guilds regulated it and also relating the eclipse of the individual craftsman by the mass production of the industrial age. Portraits and thumbnails of those prominent in this process, such as John Harrison, the hero of Dava Sobel's Longitude (1995), populate the work, which palpably bears the author's enthusiasm for his subject--except for modern innovations: "It's hard to love a quartz watch," he writes. However, all who are seduced by the aesthetics of a watch will find it easy to love Christianson's account. Gilbert Taylor
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