Marie Antoinette's Watch: Adultery, Larceny & Perpetual Motion Kindle Edition
|Length: 244 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
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|Age Level: 18 - 18|
|Grade Level: 9 - 12|
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About the Author
- ASIN : B011224PPK
- Publisher : Ray Bridge Press (July 5, 2015)
- Publication date : July 5, 2015
- Language: : English
- File size : 616 KB
- Simultaneous device usage : Unlimited
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 244 pages
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #686,619 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The book combines several narratives:
- About A.L. Breguet, perhaps the most iconic individual watch maker of all time, and his life and career. I enjoyed this a lot. I did not know that Breguet created the first wristwatch in 1810, for example. I wish there was more detail about his work on escapements and springs.
- About Marie Antoinette, her lover, and Revolutionary France. Fascinating mention: she and the king bought and owned hundreds of timepieces in their lifetimes!
- About the theft and eventual recovery of the largest Beguet collection which happens to be in Israel. This I found to be by far the most dry and least interesting part of the story, wishing it weren't a major part of the book.
- Documentary style exposes about horology or the watch industry. This part was most frustrating in its lack of detail and accuracy.
I think that as a novel for general audiences, the book falls short of the fluidity and historical suspense one could find in the DaVinci Code.
For watch and clock aficionados, this is a rare treat and glimpse into history. I admit I wasn't aware that Paris and France were the center of watchmaking in the late 1700s. Or that watches were so important back then. So it was a fascinating read and I learned a lot.
However, as I was filling the blanks in my own knowledge of horology, I realized one needed some prior knowledge to appreciate the book (which I had) and I also found inaccuracies which were annoying.
Some problematic examples:
"Rolex ... is now joined by relative upstarts like Panerai, Omega, and Breitling" -- hmm, Omega and Breitling are older than Rolex, and especially Omega has been bigger than Rolex in many respects throughout most of its history until the quartz crisis.
"Seiko with its Seiko Grand watches and Citizen ... with their higher end wrist computers with features including barometers, altimeters" -- the brand name is Grand Seiko, and Citizen is not known for their altimeter watches.
"Omega, Breitling, and Movado all use ETA movements in even their most expensive watches" -- not entirely true for Omega in the past 10+ years with coaxial. In general the history and role of the Swatch Group and Swatch quartz watches are brushed over with a very, very broad brush.
"When Rolex began using silicon ... collectors sold or shelved their old models and picked up new ones - the equivalent of a Lexus owner selling or or garaging his hat because the company added a different trunk release button" - where do we even begin on this one? First of all, many people prize their old Rolexes and view silicon with suspicion, and secondly silicon is a major upgrade to the "engine" making the mechanical watch more accurate and less susceptible to magnetic fields, so it's worth an upgrade.
Lastly, George Daniels is not given much credit as a watchmaker and is instead referred to mostly as a Breguet historian.
Recommended only for watch lovers who can read with a critical eye. Overall, I expect you will enjoy it.
Although Biggs claims at the end to be a watch fancier, his mistakes are unforgivable. He says that "solar mean time" (actually called "mean solar time") is the time indicated by the sun. In fact, it's the time indicated by clocks and watches, which are adjusted to average out the annual deviation of the solar day from 24 clock hours. He makes similar errors in describing watch movements, not understanding that the escapement regulates the beat, for example.
The editing was non-existent: mistaking 1793 for 1783 (a huge difference in the Paris of the Revolution); Baron RM de Klinckowstrom was described in 1878 as the great-uncle of Axel Fersen, who died in 1820, instead of the great-nephew of Fersen; he writes of "braising" metal--that's what you do to meat; you "braze" metal.
Bottom line: the errors and typos are sufficiently annoying to significantly diminish the pleasure of reading this book.
It is not four stars because while the author leary has done research and spoken to experts, he does not seem to have talked to many avid collectors. In his writing on more mundane watches and their collectors he has made what I consider some very minor but significant errors.
I doubt this reflects on his treatment of the title topic but he should have stayed with it and not gone off into other areas.
In the watch itself, it technology and history it's a wonderful book. A lot os speculation but very well informed and thought out.
Top reviews from other countries
The book spins together a variety of remarkable stories around an enthusiasm for classic watches, and the people involved with them. This is a short pacy book, and despite a range of topics it never drags.
I would query the cover and the marketting, while plenty of folk will love this book, trying to present it as a historical romance is probably over-stretching it. The book is potentially that most difficult of genres, popular science. It does succeed for the most part in being clear and convincing, but it really needed a decent subeditor to sort out a few things. One character’s surname switches from Speer to Spear regularly, the exact prevalence of watches was hard to gauge, and it was not entirely convincing on the detail of what watchmakers actually did. However these are minor quibbles, this is a remarkably entertaining and well put together book, that plenty of folk will enjoy greatly.