The Horological Society of New York has an extensive horological library containing a selection of rare and important texts. To check out books from the library, contact us, or inquire in person at a meeting. All items must be returned one month after check out. Items marked “Research” are for research only and are not allowed to leave the building. This is because of the condition, value or rarity of the item. The Horological Society of New York gratefully accepts horological book donations for our library.
The Watch Repairer's Instructor - F.W. Britten, 1944
Mr. Britten is knowledgeable and well spoken in matters of horological history, especially specific to British history, which there is much of. He also talks a great deal with machining pinions, cylinder escapements and winding stems - which adds another level of information that is much needed on those subjects. However, he talks of "knocking" steady pins in bridges in order to gain correct depth of penetration between wheels, as well as bending bridges to make a watch "work."
While this type of workmanship is sometimes acceptable for lower-end mechanical watches, the watchmaker of today (who is almost always in the high-end) cannot stoop to such levels. This is a most informative read, but it must be taken with a grain of salt. - LCB 5/15
Rules and Practice for Adjusting Watches - Walter J. Kleinklein, 1920
Rules and Practice for Adjusting Watches is a discussion on the finer points of adjusting watches - previous to the use of timing machines. Particular emphasis is put on isochronal errors (caused by temperature and position) with detailed examples locating where a watch would be affected by these errors. In each example, an adjustment is then recommended to remedy the error.
There is also a distinction made between the lone watchmaker in a jewelry store compared to a watchmaker in a large shop or factory. Kleinklein emphasizes that though practices might change between different watchmakers, the theory and knowledge must stay the same.
While not the most in-depth and technical of books, it does provide important theory that is mostly forgotten by watchmakers of today. - LCB 4/15
Prize Essay on the Balance Spring - Moritz Immisch, 1872
Isochronism as applied to a mechanical watch is a theoretical state in which oscillations of the balance take place at exactly the same time interval. The concept of isochronism is what watchmakers strive for when adjusting a watch for better timing characteristics. In Prize Essay on the The Balance Spring, Moritz Immisch introduces his goal for the text with the following: "There are those who are not satisfied simply to know what is to be done to procure isochronism, but are desirous to learn upon what principles these manipulations are based, why a change of form should produce isochronism, and why did it not exist before the change."
Immisch goes on to describe the different types of balance springs commonly found in use (flat, cylindrical and helical) and the specific advantages and disadvantages of each. Beyond these values, it is explained how to make each of these types of balance springs.
A thorough explanation of isochronism as applied to pendulums is included. I found this particularly useful as it lays a foundation for understanding the balance wheel and it's spring in their entirety. Specifically, Immisch explained how the balance spring configuration is dependent on the balance wheel's center of gravity, and how that center of gravity is most often not the rim of the balance wheel.
Finally, Immisch describes factors contributing to loss of isochronism and the adjustments that should be employed to address those issues. This text is valuable to anyone looking for a deeper understanding of the balance spring and isochronism. - NM 3/15
THE WATCH FACTORIES OF AMERICA – HENRY G. ABBOTT, 1888
The Watch Factories of America is a thorough account of America’s golden age of watchmaking, the late 19th century. Henry G. Abbott takes the reader through the development of the watchmaking industry in America, starting with Aaron L. Dennison’s interchange system.
The interchange system may seem obvious today, but it was revolutionary in 1850. Before it was developed, a watchmaker could not trust with full confidence that a replacement part would work in a watch without adjustment. Dennison joined the Howard & Davis watch factory and began work on implementing the interchange system. Eventually, Howard & Davis would be known as the American Waltham Watch Company.
Many more factories would follow this model successfully. Brands such as Elgin, Illinois, Rockford and Hampden are detailed in the text. Abbott gives detailed business information that shows exactly how the factories ran. An interesting outsourcing arrangement often appears. Some American watch factories of this time outsourced work to Switzerland, as the labor there was cheaper.
The Watch Factories of America is highly recommended for anyone wishing to learn about the history of American watchmaking. - NM 2/15
JOHN HARRISON AND HIS TIMEKEEPERS – LIEUT.-COMMANDER RUPERT T. GOULD R.N.
Up until the mid-1730’s the technology to calculate longitude at sea did not exist. These pages contain a brief history on this topic in the form of a lecture given by Lieutenant-Commander Rupert T. Gould R.N. to the Society for Nautical Research from February 21st, 1935. Not only does the lecture introduce the audience to the efforts of John Harrison, who ultimately solved the problem along with his inventions. It also provides a simple concise explanation of how his Timekeepers were able to overcome the obstacles that stumped so many before him. In the end readers will be treated to the Lieutenant-Commanders own account of bringing these masterpieces back to working condition, years after they were forgotten and left in horrible states of disrepair. – MF 1/15
CHATS ON OLD CLOCKS – H. ALAN LLOYD, 1951
From the title it is apparent that this book is not a technical treatise, but rather an informal discussion about old clocks. Lloyd takes on a conversational tone, presenting a large collection of clocks. The reader is guided through the historical development of these clocks, starting in the 14th century and progressing to the 18th century. Interesting technical anecdotes are included along the way. Have you ever wondered why some early clocks had no screws? How about why long-case clock came into fashion? Both questions are answered in Chats on Old Clocks along with much more. – NM 12/14
THE WATCH ESCAPEMENT – HENRY FRIED, 1959
There are plenty of watchmaking books with technical escapement diagrams. Unfortunately those diagrams are not always easy to follow or reproduce. The Watch Escapement is different. The majority of the book is a step by step guide on how to draw a lever escapement, which is very easy to follow and understand. In addition, there are two additional sections on diagnosing and repairing issues with both the lever and cylinder escapements. Henry Fried was a past president of HSNY. – NM 11/14
WATCHES – CECIL CLUTTON & GEORGE DANIELS, 1965
The history of the technical development the watch is a broad subject that has the potential to be difficult to explain neatly. In Watches, Daniels & Clutton present the progression of horological technical development in an approachable and understandable manner. Clutton & Daniels start with detailing the earliest spring-driven clocks around 1500, and move all the way to an in-depth explanation of escapement development in the 19th century. A large section of color and monochrome plates are included, which are referenced throughout Watches. Watches does not describe how to make watches, rather it explains the reasoning and history behind horological technical development. Watches is highly recommended for all skill and interest levels. – NM 10/14