100 Breakthrough timepieces

The 100 pioneering watches developed since the advent of the 20th century, weighing the virtues of rarity, cost, innovative functions, historical significance, great provenance and design, have been selected by British historian and journalist Nicholas Foulkes for the deluxe, updated edition of The Impossible Collection of Watches, published by Assouline. The watch – a microcosm of hundreds of delicate components interacting harmoniously with each other bound together in a precious metal case – has the power to evoke emotions, stimulate the imagination and inspire the same passion as great art. The beautiful clocks invite us to join in a story, and the narrative that unfolds in these 100 examples in the book is that of one of the most exciting and dynamic periods in human history.

These tiny machines reflect the incredible technological advances and social changes of the 20th and 21st centuries, from the invention of the aeroplane to the impact of two world wars to the advent of space exploration and the dawn of the digital age. Featuring prominent brands such as Audemars Piguet, Cartier, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Richard Mille, Rolex and Vacheron Constantin, these 100 watches include new additions such as the 1925 Patek Philippe Ref. 97975, the oldest known perpetual calendar wristwatch, the 2014 Van Cleef & Arpels Midnight Planetarium and the 2022 Jacob & Co. Opera Godfather Musical Watch. This hand-crafted Ultimate Collection volume features hand-drawn illustrations and is presented in a deluxe clamshell case. Author, historian and journalist Nicholas Foulkes is a contributing editor to Vanity Fair, Financial Times How to Spend It, GQ and The Rake.

Photos Courtesy of Assouline