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Catalogs

by J.Peter

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I’m not just a watchmaker. I love watches too. I try not to dwell on them too much here because if you check out the blogroll there are plenty of people blogging about every new watch that hits the market. I do however want to spend today writing about watch catalogs.

As a watchmaker I like watch catalogs for several reasons:

  1. They make great reading material at lunch :)
  2. They help fill my dreams at night.
  3. The serve as a historical reference of watch models. It is important for me to know if a watch is authentic or not. I’m pretty good with Rolex, but when it comes to other brands it becomes more tricky. Catalogs prove to be a great reference.

There are also some other great references. Every watch collector and watchmaker needs a copy of Cooksey Shuggart’s Complete Price Guide Watches 2008. I also like the Wristwatch Annual. For Vintage Rolex Sports Models the book with the same name works well. I don’t have a really good reference for other Rolex models yet, if you can recommend one please feel free to comment.

Gerald Genta CatalogBack to Catalogs. The holy grail of watch catalogs is the Rolex Master Catalog which is difficult to get because Authorized Dealers (in the U.S.) are required to return their previous year’s catalog to get a new one. Many watch companies make beautifully bound catalogs available to their customers, simply by asking for one on their web page. Today, I received in the mail a beautiful catalog from Gerald Genta (those aren’t noises in your head when you visit the site- they come from the web page). I could never afford one of their watches (see Watchmaking Injustice) but they are things of beauty as is the catalog. If I could afford one I would definitely go for the Fantasy Model RSF.X.10.143.LB.BA featuring jumping hour, retrograde minutes, sweep seconds and Mickey Mouse in an aviator’s theme. About a year ago I received a beautiful hard bound catalog from Jaeger-LeCoultre. In order to get Rolex’s customer catalog you will need to hit up your local authorized dealer, it is beautiful as well, but very incomplete. Some dealers also have great catalogs like Hamilton Jewelers in Princeton, NJ and Wempe. One last place to get great catalogs are auction houses. The catalog for Antiquorum’s upcoming Rolex themed auction The Evolution of the Rolex Sports Watch” is 488 pages of fabulous Rolex knowledge and it’s available online and for download as a pdf file or you can purchase the catalog in hardcover. Oh, and if you want to make my day bid on those Rolex cufflinks (Lot 10, pg 20) and send them my way :)

Whenever I see a beautiful catalog available I try to get one to add to my collection, I’d like to build a historical record because I know it will be valuable in my profession. Oh and they are fun too.

Update: Thanks to Prem for suggesting The best of time ‘Rolex’ An unauthorised history by James Dowling and Jeffrey Hess. I haven’t checked it out yet but it available used and new from Amazon. Available Here

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