'A grand complication' by Stacy Perman

I just finished this book and thoroughly enjoyed it. It primarily focuses on James Packard and Henry Graves Jr and how both men pushed the boundaries of mathematics, astronomy, craftsmanship and creativity to create complicated watches. While the book primarily focuses on Patek Philippe and Graves Supercomplication it does refer to VC on numerous occasions. A great read for those that are interested.
Thanks for the recommendation Hamish
07/28/2013 - 03:01
Did the book reveal those who actually developed the Graves and Packard super-watches?  It has been said theses two men were not technical experts in horology and would simply request that some world-beating timepiece be constructed for ultimate bragging rights.  It was then left to the Swiss designers to actually conceive and develop the watches.  Also, would it be fair to say that Packard was more a fan of V&C than Graves?
Re: Thanks for the recommendation Hamish
07/28/2013 - 04:38
Hi Dean, From my understanding Packard was a genius and a very competent engineer from a very early age. His understanding of horology was excellent and in my mind he was the pioneer in pushing Patek and VC to develop watches with very specific complications. Over a number of years he continually asked both Patek and VC to push the envelope with his requests. When his famous Packard watch was delivered it was the most complicated watch ever made and a real tour de force. It is important to point out that his requests only stopped due to illness and his eventual death. To me Packard really understood the difficulty in making these watches and what his requests meant in terms of the advancement of horology. In contrast to this was Henry Graves Jr, who was born entitled and extremely wealthy. I do not feel that he appreciated the technical mastery of what he was buying or ordering from the manufacturers. Like many very wealthy people he was motivated by collecting and collecting the very best at whatever the cost. His only requirement when collecting was that it was the best, the most complicated or the most rare. It appears to me that he was the follower and not the pioneer. He was always trying to best Packard but because he lacked the technical understanding that Packard had he was always at a disadvantage. It is also important to point out that the Graves supercomplication was only ordered because Graves learned of the Packard watch and asked Patek to make him the most complicated watch ever made. It was Patek who conceived, designed and developed the complicated watch not Graves whereas Packard always advised what he wanted. I do not think that either man was interested in bragging rights more in Packard's case the advancement of horology and in Graves case the pursuit of the very best. The two other interesting things that I learnt was about secular calanders which I had never heard of and that a second more complicated Graves watch may have been made and delivered to Graves but only Patek woud be able to confirm if this is fact or fiction. The book did not really elaborate on either man's VC patronage but both men appreciated and owned VC watches. What the book does not elaborate on is how aware both men were of the others accomplishments and to what degree this motivated the other with his next order or purchase. That said it appears to me that Graves was the follower and Packard the pioneer. I hope you enjoyed my summary but te above is only my humble opinion and my interpretation of the book. Hamish
Thanks for these additional insights
07/28/2013 - 05:32
Your comments are much appreciated.  Perman has credibility as a researcher so I'm sure the book has many interesting tidbits.
Thanks Hamish for the summary
07/30/2013 - 06:30
...I think that I've found the book to read on my next vacation :-)
Stacy spoke at a VC event last year
07/28/2013 - 14:14
It was a very interesting talk complete with some projected photos.  She seemed to indicate that there was some competition, but that it was not the only motivating factor.
07/28/2013 - 15:55
Hi Michael, That is an event that I would have love to attended....... Did you enjoy the book? HM
Just starting to read it
07/28/2013 - 21:48
I set it aside as I was already reading something at the time, and your post reminded me that I had not read it, so thank you for that!
Link to Sotheby's expert talking about a recent auction
07/28/2013 - 15:57
Sorry guys
07/28/2013 - 16:35
This was a bit dum of me to post this link that features another watch brand on a VC sponsored site. What I was trying to illustrate was the Graves history and great photos. When I stated please delete I was referring to the Sotheby's link it was only after I posted the link did I think about the other watch brand. Please accept my apology.
No no no
07/28/2013 - 19:00
Hamish, this is a WIS forum and all relevant discussions are appreciated smiley.  Explaining the context is always helpful, but only shills and trolls will be pounced upon no.
Thank you
07/29/2013 - 02:12
Thanks Dean
Thanks for the heads up and additional info, just ordered a copy!
08/05/2013 - 09:34