About the Book

Despite the functional obsolescence of the mechanical wristwatch (our phones and computers tell more accurate time) the early 21st Century has seen a boom in the development, production, and appreciation of all things horological. Whether it is presented to the collector as an alternative investment, as a feat of micro-mechanical technology, or as a showcase of artisanal mastery, the mechanical wristwatch has never possessed more forms, functions or facets than it does today. The Wristwatch Handbook is written from the epicentre of a renaissance, a place in time between the Quartz revolution and the rise of the smart device – where the mechanical wristwatch is the antidote to the microprocessor and the permanent buzz of your inbox. From the multi-axis tourbillon, to the split-second chronograph, to the sidereal sky chart, The Wristwatch Handbook covers it all and does so with more than 470 rich illustrations from over 90 of the World’s leading brands.

The Contents page of The Wristwatch Handbook

The Contents page of The Wristwatch Handbook

The book is separated into two sections. Section 1 provides the reader with 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. From the fifty-day power reserve, to the constant force mechanism, and the 1,000Hz mechanical escapement, Section 1 will provide the reader with an understanding and appreciation of what is happening beneath the dial of their watch.

Hacking seconds, zero-reset, and constant force mechanisms are discussed in Section 1

Hacking seconds, zero-reset, and constant force mechanisms are discussed in Section 1

Section 2 allows the reader to take this understanding and apply it to the vast range of complications (functions) that exist in modern horology. Each chapter showcases a distinct category of complication. For example, the regatta timer, pulsometer, and monopusher chronograph join a host of others in a chapter entitled ‘Recording Lapses of Time’; The power reserve indicator, dynamograph, and crown position indicator are featured in a chapter for ‘Power and Performance Indication’; The moon phase indicator, annual calendar, and planetarium can be found in the ‘Astronomical Complications’ chapter. Once the functional categories are exhausted, the final three chapters explore whimsical complications that have little regard for practical function, novelty time indication, and the ‘super-complicated’ watch – a rare breed of timepiece that houses an intimidating host of complications featured throughout the book. 

The perpetual calendar, in its many forms, is discussed in Section 2.

The perpetual calendar, in its many forms, is discussed in Section 2.


About the Author

Ryan Schmidt has spent over a decade cultivating his enthusiasm for mechanical wristwatches. Through his travels, scholarship, and endless curiosity he has amassed a network of industry insiders from brand CEOs, to watchmakers, journalists, auction specialists and fellow enthusiasts.

A qualified management accountant with a diploma in law and a masters degree in human rights, Ryan has worked in internal audit for a range of global corporations in both London and New York. On occasion he writes articles for the watch press. Born in the United Kingdom to US parents, he currently lives with his family in New York. Ryan is a member of the Horological Society of New York and holds a certificate in watchmaking knowledge issued by the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie.

Ryan Schmidt

Ryan Schmidt


Praise for The Wristwatch Handbook

"Today's mechanical watch enthusiasts stand for a dilemma with regard to deepening their horological knowledge: on the one had there is a plethora of so-called coffee table books filled with many pages of large glossy pictures and close-ups of fabulous, mouth-watering timepieces, and at the other end of the spectrum are many highly esoteric and explicatory tomes, filled with data and material only a horological fanatic could love and cherish.

However, for those who want to increase their knowledge of mechanical wristwatches in a balanced manner, the middle ground remains a rare territory. With this new release by Ryan Schmidt, that lacuna has now been filled with a comprehensive overview of every type of wristwatch and mechanism that could interest collectors."

Theodore Diehl, Spokesman & Horologist at Richard Mille, and Author of 'Kari Voutilainen Horlogerie d'Art'

"Ryan Schmidt is a passionate watch lover, and his dedication to the field shows through in this book, which can be described as nothing short of a labor of love. Despite the heavy subject, he exhibits a surprisingly light and witty ability to describe the inner workings of a mechanical wristwatch, providing historical context where needed and wanted.

He explains the at times complex mechanical concepts by using easy, visual language, which is certain to be of great assistance to the layperson in grasping them.

I am particularly impressed by the diversity of examples and meticulous attention to straightforward representation made interesting. This book is an excellent launch pad for the budding enthusiast."

Elizabeth Doerr, Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder at QuillandPad.com, and author of ‘Bridging Art and Mechanics: The Unabridged Story of the Corum Golden Bridge’

“When I joined the watch industry some 30 years ago, quartz had superseded mechanical movements,  leavinga complete trail of wreckage in its wake. Like the evolution of man, the watch is now continuing to evolve yet further in what must be deemed the digital revolution. 

As another chapter begins to be written in this fascinating story The Wristwatch Handbook offers a comprehensive overview of the mechanical watch, and does so free of the barriers of a particular style, era, or brand.

In almost every corner of the book is a little gem about a particular watch or mechanism, something that you will not have learnt from a press release or article elsewhere. It is very clear that Ryan has trawled the depths and left little out. What makes this book so important and enjoyable is not just that he knows watches like few others, but that he knows how to share it with us.

Robert Dreyfuss, Chief Executive Officer, Eterna SA

"It is positively rejoicing to discover such works. The book provides a sound basis of needed references and guidance for the watch collector to make educated choices."

Vianney Halter - Watch Maker

"One of the most common questions I receive as a watch specialist is ‘Where do I start to learn about collecting watches?’

Finally, I have an answer. The Wristwatch Handbook is the gateway to informed wristwatch collecting that will open up the world of watches to you in a concise and enjoyable way.

This book brilliantly mixes vintage and modern watches in a visually accessible way with useful and informative reflections on what makes watches unique and special. The diagrams are especially useful and fun way to educate the reader in how watches work and the correct nomenclature for watch parts.

As one of the first books written from the heart of today’s collector that mixes the traditional watchmaker with the rise of the modern independent watchmaker, you will be surprised to see the juxtaposition of old and new together within this books pages."

John Reardon, International Head of Watches, Christie's

The Wristwatch Handbook

The Wristwatch Handbook