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  1. #1

    Thumbs up BOOKREVIEW: Giulio Papi – High-end horological finishing and decoration (English edi

    Bookreview by Fortunat Mueller-Maerki

    Giulio Papi – High-end horological finishing and decoration (English edition)

    High-end horological finishing and decoration. By Giulio Papi (with Caroline Sermier). Several hundred illustrations, many of them in color. 215x275mm (landscape). 128 pages. Hardcover. Published 2006 by Audemars Piguet, Le Brassus, Switzerland. Available through Editions Simonin, Neuchâtel (Switzerland) www.booksimonin.ch for CHF 90 (ca. US$70) plus postage. [Simultaneously published in several language editions (no ISBN)]. Glossary.

    When I first learned about this new addition to the horological literature I was quite excited. There is - to the best of my knowledge - no other in-print book (and hardly anything in the historic literature) devoted to this subject area. Publications covering manual finishing processes for watch movements are rare. George Daniels in “Watchmaking” briefly covers some of the techniques, but not all of them, and in less detail.

    The techniques covered (corresponding to chapter headings): 1. Bevelling, 2. Flanks, 3. Specular Polish (black polish), 4. Finishing drilled holes, 5. Engraving, 6. Chasing, 7. Engine Turning, 8. Côtes de Genève, 9. Stippling, 10. Openworking (skeletonizing), 11. Sunray-brushing, 12. Snailing, 13. Circular graining and 14. Electroplating are what distinguishes a superb, high-end, hand-finished watch from your run-of-the-mill products. The author clearly knows his subject well; he was the principal of an independent Swiss workshop (Renaud & Pappi) that –as a subcontractor- for many years specialized in carrying out these operations for a small number of exceptional pieces on behalf of high-end Swiss luxury brands. (More recently, that firm was acquired by Audemars Piguet, and now works mainly for that brand).

    Mr. Papi (with the help of writer Caroline Sermier) describes each of the 14 techniques (often both in their original manually applied ways and with their modern machine approximations) and illustrates the procedures with numerous, clear and helpful photographs and line drawings. He describes how and why these steps are applied to wheels, pinions, plates, screws, pins and pivots. He comments on both the functional and the aesthetic benefits of each technique. In the opinion of this reviewer, the book would have been a most valuable addition to the horological literature had the text been limited to that.

    But apparently the marketing staff at Audemars Piguet had higher aspirations: They wanted a fancy, high class publication which they could distribute worldwide (there are six different language editions) to all purchasers of their hand-finished, ultra high grade watches. What could have been simply a technical, factual, and descriptive text on hereto poorly documented watchmaking techniques was “augmented” to primarily serve as a book that would help increase the mystique and prestige of a hand-finished watch, and justify the extremely high prices charged for such products. In the view of this reviewer this secondary mission is now too obvious and too transparent in the finished book, and in my opinion the book would have turned out more “high class” and more valuable, if it had strictly limited itself to technical content, and avoided editorializing on the merits of hand finishing. Maybe I am overestimating the intelligence and level of horological interest of the buyers of such watches, but a more subtle approach would achieve more. If you are a perfectionist you can simply describe what you do, and don’t need to talk negatively about the less exacting technology used by your competitors.

    Somewhat surprising for a high quality firm like Audemars, the publication apparently did not get the same kind of attention to detail as is given to their watches: The English text is obviously a translation from the French, and the language does not always flow smoothly. While the translator obviously knows the horological terminology (and the narrative is perfectly understandable), this reviewer got the impression that the text was never reviewed by a native English speaker who is also a practicing, watch-making professional. Reading some sentences feels as if the translator had translated all the facts of the sentence, rather than the feeling expressed in the original version. Furthermore there are a few silly, obvious errors, which careful proofreading or copyediting should have caught (e.g. on pages 56 and 79).

    That said, the book remains a unique and most valuable source of information on its subject and warrants careful study by anybody seriously interested in hand-finished, high grade watches; there is no other serious, comprehensive text available on this subject

    Fortunat Mueller-Maerki (Sussex, NJ), April 10, 2007


    Fortunat Mueller-Maerki, -Chair NAWCC Library Com./ Editor & Publisher of BHM
    Mem.NAWCC Mus.Coll.Com. / VP, USA Sect. Antiq.Horolog.Soc.

  2. #2

    Default Re: REVIEW: Giulio Papi – High-end horological finishing and decoration (English (By: Fortunat Mueller-Maerki)

    Would you recommend this book to somebody that wanted to learn how to do finishing?
    Thanks
    Todd W

  3. #3

    Default Re: REVIEW: Giulio Papi – High-end horological finishing and decoration (English (By: Fortunat Mueller-Maerki)

    Finishing a watch movement is primarily a skill.

    Books can convey knowledge but never skills. Skills are only acquired through practice, and more practice.

    Nevertheless a basis of knowledge is a prerequisite to acquiring skills, and given that there are no other books on the subject of finishing watches that I know of, this book could be a highly important elelement for the base upon which to build such skills.

    In other words it will give you a base of knowlede that is a necessary - but not sufficient - ingrediant to building the skill.

    Fortunat
    Fortunat Mueller-Maerki, -Chair NAWCC Library Com./ Editor & Publisher of BHM
    Mem.NAWCC Mus.Coll.Com. / VP, USA Sect. Antiq.Horolog.Soc.

  4. #4

    Default Re: REVIEW: Giulio Papi – High-end horological finishing and decoration (English (By: Fortunat Mueller-Maerki)

    "Books can convey knowledge but never skills. Skills are only acquired through practice, and more practice."

    Truer word were never spoken.

    Todd

  5. #5

    Default Re: REVIEW: Giulio Papi – High-end horological finishing and decoration (English (By: Fortunat Mueller-Maerki)

    You can view the forward from the book if you
    Click Here. It is the second article and it is in English even though it say it is in French.
    [edit=6120=1176509017][/edit]
    [edit=6120=1176509378][/edit]

  6. #6

    Default Re: REVIEW: Giulio Papi – High-end horological finishing and decoration (English (By: Fortunat Mueller-Maerki)

    When clicking on the link I get nothing

  7. #7

    Default Re: REVIEW: Giulio Papi – High-end horological finishing and decoration (English (By: Fortunat Mueller-Maerki)

    Sorry Second time the charm.

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