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Hands of Time

On sale

27th April 2023

Price: £22

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Selected: Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9781529339031

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‘An exquisite book, beautifully put together… What a very wonderful book.’ STEPHEN FRY
‘Forty-thousand years of our relationship with time condensed into 288 pages: a hugely entertaining achievement.’ ESQUIRE
‘5/5 A true joy. A work of staggering complexity and bewildering economy.’ TELEGRAPH
‘A rattling, wonderful read.’ OBSERVER
‘Every page glitters’ SPECTATOR
Mesmerising’ NEW STATESMAN
‘Absolutely gorgeous. It blew my socks off’ JAY BLADES
‘An intensely personal, finely-tuned meditation. A beautiful book’ EDMUND DE WAAL
‘Beautiful, bewitching and brilliant’ LARA MAIKLEM

In Hands of Time, watchmaker and historian Rebecca Struthers welcomes us into the hidden world of watchmaking, and to a history of time that spans centuries and continents.

The invention of timepieces was more significant for human culture than the printing press, or even the wheel. They have travelled the world with us, from the depths of the oceans to the summit of Everest, and even to the Moon. They regulate our daily lives and have sculpted the social and economic development of society in surprising and dramatic ways.

From her workshop bench, Rebecca explores the ways in which timekeeping has indelibly shaped our attitudes to work, leisure, trade, politics, exploration and mortality, and introduces us to some extraordinary devices, each with their own story to tell. Hands of Time is an intricate exploration of the history, science, philosophy, and craft of timekeeping.

What's Inside

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Edmund de Waal
An intensely personal, finely-tuned meditation on making and time-keeping. This is a beautiful book.'
Jay Blades
An absolutely gorgeous book about craft, time and history. Hands of Time really captures what it means to be a craftsperson and why it matters. It blew my socks off.
Lara Maiklem
'Rebecca Struthers dismantles and reassembles time as she would an antique pocket watch. Beautiful, bewitching and brilliant.'
Simon Winchester
As impeccably crafted and precisely engineered as any of the watches on which the author has worked so lovingly over the years, this book is a joy to behold and a wonder to enjoy.
James Fox
A masterpiece. As intricate and impressive as the watches it describes.
Rebecca Wragg Sykes
From 40,000 year old bone etchings, through the first tick-tock and into the nanoscale atomic world of 21st century clocks, Hands of Time is a meticulously written and captivating history. Struthers brings her unique perspective as artisan and engineer to explore both the evolution of mechanisms and the complicated ways in which timekeeping has changed human life: the more we measure this intangible cosmic property, the more precious it becomes.
Tracy Borman
'As exquisitely-crafted as a Georgian pocket-watch, this fascinating book weaves the threads of personal memoir with the story of a profession that has until now been almost entirely overlooked. Through the lens of watch-making, a new understanding of our world history emerges. Beautifully written and endlessly fascinating, it feels like this was a story waiting to be written.'
Roma Agrawal
As an engineer I was enthralled by the intricate mechanisms Dr. Struthers brings to life so vividly. But what really struck me is her personal journey in horology, and her fascinating stories of how timepieces affected society and culture, ultimately shaping our modern lives.
Gavin Francis
An enthralling story of time, and of the human passion to understand and control it. Anyone who enjoyed Dava Sobel's Longitude will love it.
'Every page glitters with details of her experience and the people she has learned from. The book is evidence of a lifelong labour of love, and reading it is time well spent'
'5/5 A true joy - an enchanting mixture of memoir and history... A work of staggering complexity and bewildering economy - highly deserving of the time you give it.'
Stephen Fry
'What an exquisite book, as beautifully put together as one of the watches whose mechanisms Rebecca Struthers describes with such eloquence and authority. In a world whose digital workings are invisible to us, the joy and genius of craftsmanship, artistry and skill with materials is all the more welcome. What a very wonderful book.
'A rattling, wonderful, decidedly non-nerdy read for anyone with an interest of how time made us who we are.'
Country Life
'The history of timekeeping is treated with a light touch, consisting of one fascinating and frequently romantic story after another... She brings the craft of making and repairing watches to life and even the glossary is an engaging read. Be warned, however: if Hands of Time affects you as it has me, you may find yourself taking up what could be an extremely expensive hobby.'
'The only book on watches you need to read... a hugely entertaining achievement'
Mr Porter
'A gripping history of timekeeping that starts with the personal, but then embarks upon a journey spanning centuries of modern humanity, examining how timepieces have shaped us - not just in service to our quotidian lives, but politically and economically, too. With a scope that reaches from prehistoric 40,000-year-old bone etchings recording lunar cycles to the Dutch horological "forgeries" of her thesis, it is all addressed with a lightness of touch that has seen Dr Struthers' debut scoring "Book of the Week" on BBC Radio 4.'
'Full of tales of royal intrigue and social history, it charts the story of watchmaking through the centuries and reflects on how time affects us all'
Irish Examiner
'This engaging, rewarding book is full of mechanical complexities and wonderfully interesting details.
Skilfully moving between the miniscule world of watchmaking and the sweep of history, Hands of Time is an enlightening study.
New Statesman
'Mesmerising, almost hypnotic... well worth your time.'
Daily Mail
'BOOK OF THE WEEK: The sights, smells and sounds of a watchmaker's workshop in Birmingham's jewellery quarter come to life in Rebecca Struthers's fascinating book'
'An absorbing and precisely researched journey around the importance of horology in measuring time... at the heart of the narrative is a historical account of how timekeeping has shaped the development of pretty much every aspect of social and economic life: trade, politics, leisure, exploration and mortality.'
An exquisitely crafted history
Telegraph best summer reads
Taking us from the earliest lunar calendar (a notched baboon fibula found in the Lebombo mountains) to today's quartz watches... This brilliant history of clocks and timepieces is a miracle of concision.