From Working on Watches to Writing About Them

BIRMINGHAM, England — Rebecca Struthers, the British watchmaker and restorer who earned her doctorate in horology in 2017, is attempting her hand at one thing a bit completely different: She is writing a e book.

“Hands of Time: A Watchmaker’s History” is a take a look at the historical past, artwork and science of horology, together with her experiences with a number of the watches she writes about. The e book, delayed a 12 months by the pandemic, now could be scheduled for publication in May 2023 by Hodder & Stoughton in Britain and by HarperCollins within the United States.

Dr. Struthers and her watchmaker-husband, Craig, function Struthers Watchmakers from their small studio in Birmingham’s Jewelry Quarter. (His horological drawings will illustrate the e book.)

During an interview and in follow-up emails, Dr. Struthers described a number of the watch world’s eccentric characters, what it’s like to be a lady within the trade and her fondness for Casio. Her feedback have been edited and condensed.

Your web site says your e book will focus on “one of the most culturally significant objects in modern history.” What’s so important a few watch?

Watches are our approach of capturing the occasions of the universe, occasions we now have no management over, in one thing we will put on on our our bodies. They’re objects that may challenge details about who we’re and the way we would like to be perceived as a lot as they regulate our lives.

You additionally promise a narrative of “adventure and innovation, full of eccentric characters.”

One of my favorites is Abraham-Louis Breguet, who labored via the French Revolution as watchmaker to the French aristocracy, and for Napoleon Bonaparte, King George III and the Duke of Wellington — all while protecting his head. There’s Ruth Belville, who — from the late-19th century proper up till the Second World War — trekked the streets of London “selling time.” She’d take her very correct chronometer to the Royal Observatory in Greenwich within the morning to set it exactly to the time on the meridian. Her subscribers would pay her to go to them so they may appropriate their timepieces. There’s additionally the curious case of John Wilter, a reputation related to 18th-century pocket watch forgeries that have been signed as being made in London, however which have been really low-cost continental European watches. There’s no proof John Wilter ever existed.

There aren’t many feminine watchmakers. Has your gender helped or hindered your profession?

Being not solely feminine, however younger, tattooed, working class and having a thoughts of my very own was undoubtedly a hindrance initially of my profession. Although I’m now on the stage the place it’s swung the alternative approach, and being a minority in my subject makes it simpler to get seen, it’s additionally a place I’ve earned. Breaking down the boundaries I skilled for future generations of watchmakers is essential to me. The trade continues to be extremely male, white and center to higher class, and with that we’re dropping a lot potential expertise.

Is it arduous to half with a watch you’ve made?

When watches take years to construct they mark parts of your life. It’s odd giving them away. I work with my husband so we see it as being a bit like our youngster going off to faculty. You can’t assist however look again at what you have been doing when the construct began, how a lot has modified, what you and the world has been via.

What’s on your wrist?

My on a regular basis watches have to be workshop suitable, or in different phrases, OK to knock round. I’m a giant Casio fan and I’ve fairly a couple of Swatches, that are nice for work. My costume watches are all classic. They don’t have to have a reputation: I search for components of their design that enchantment to me moderately than observe huge manufacturers. I’m undoubtedly a fan of the strange!