Book Reviews


Chronograph Wristwatches: To Stop Time, by Gerd R. Lang and Reinhard Meis. 246 pages. 200 illustrations. 1993. $79.95. (JCK Data Center CN-048)

Here is probably the most comprehensive book-cataloging of wrist chronographs dating from the early part of this century.

It’s divided into six main sections including The Precision Chronograph, The Face of the Chronograph, The Technology of the Chronograph, The Chronograph Case and Illustrations. Also we find a caliber directory, bibliography, index and one-page price guide, showing values from $200 (SORNA) to $125,000 (Patek Philippe).

The opening chapter on precision covers temperature compensation with various formulas and graphs, together with magnetism, amplitude control and compensation charts. A half-page concerns “How accurate is clocked time?”

The Face of the Chronograph shows the many timing services to which the chronograph may be put, including types of split-seconds-hand systems.

The Technology of the Chronograph features 103 under-the-dial views with factory drawings, plus some 100 subsidiary and patent application drawings.

A 17-page section here shows Valjous ebauche models, some in full color, and the factory method of testing and repair procedures.

Split-seconds wrist chronographs and those with date features comprise four pages. There are 34 models of self-winding wrist chronographs and 34 with pin pallet escapements. Here, too, are the specialized products of 51 makers, including those who used others’ calibers, which are noted in the caliber directory.

A page on history notes that Adolph Nicole introduced a controlled chronograph in 1862 and received a patent in 1888 for a pocket-sized chronograph. The first wrist (13 ligne) chronograph is credited here to Moeris, followed in 1913 by Omega with a rebuilt pocket watch.

Two-button chronographs appeared in 1923, but then it took 11 more years before these advancements were applied to wrist models.

This huge, well-organized book with good binding, heavy-duty, glossy paper and A-1 illustrations is highly recommended for the repairer and dealer-collector.

Gerd R. Lang is a master watchmaker and proprietor of the Chronoswiss Co. He owns a large collection of chronographs and has a fine reputation for repairing them. Richard Meis, also a master watchmaker, has authored such books as The Old Clock, The Tourbillon and IWC Watches.

The modest price of $79.95 for a book of such contents should make it attractive to all sectors of interested horologists. – Henry B. Fried, Horological Editor; JCK book judge.


The GIA Diamond Dictionary, 3rd edition, edited by Richard Liddicoat with John Hummel and David Avshalomov, with contributions from GIA staff and Howard Vaughan of CSO, London. 275 pages. 1993. $45.00. (JCK Data Center BV-026)

With new words and names coined almost daily by the trade, it is a given that, like a computer, a diamond dictionary is a bit out of date the moment it appears. It has been some time since the revised second edition (1977) was printed and there was certainly a need for updating The GIA Diamond Dictionary, what with the plethora of new names, new localities, new treatments, new cuts, new players and new grades.

As with all specialized dictionaries, this is much more than a dictionary; it is an encyclopedia of the trade, for it both explains and defines. Take, as a random example, blackened culet, a phrase which hardly seems to need defining. But we read and learn: “culet to which a pot of black paint or pitch has been applied. Usually seen on older cuts, it may have been done to eliminate the bright flash or read-through effect produced by the large culets characteristic of early cutting styles.”

Bombay might seem superfluous, but reading further we find that it is a “city in the state of Maharastra on the west coast of India; that country’s financial capital and a major diamond marketing center. Bombay’s diamond and diamond manufacturing industry involves American, Indian, Japanese and European companies. Construction of a new Diamond Center is scheduled for completion in 1997. See Bhavnagar, Golconda, India, Krishna River, Navsari, Panna, Surat.”

Many words have more general usage – Barion cut, for example – so the field covered is actually far greater than the name suggests. A tremendous work and infinitely more erudite and distinguished in format than the earlier editions. One can unequivocally say that is is really an essential volume in the library of every gemologist.

At the end there are eight appendices. A is an alphabetical list of notable diamonds not discussed in the definition pages. B enumerates significant or historically interesting American diamonds. C lists by weight 23 large diamonds that were in the Bank of Iran, seen and studied by the Toronto group. D and E are diamond-grading scales used by various organizations and very valuable for equating the different systems employed here and abroad. Appendix F grounds the flights of fancy employed by promoters of imitations. G compares the ages of various deposits. H lists several cities’ metric weights of an old carat, before standardization.

To summarize, this is a must book for those in the trade. – Frederick H. Pough, Ph. D., Reno, Nev.; JCK book judge.


Master Gemcutting Tips, by Gerald L. Wykoff, G.G., CMG. 166 pages. 190 black/white illustrations. 1992. $17.95 softbound. (JCK Data Center JR-005)

There are now well over 300,000 active participants in the lapidary arts in America. Gemcutting is easy to start; there are clubs in hundreds of communities, all eager to guide the beginner.

Many high schools and colleges offer courses. The William Holland School in Young Harris, Ga., is the only one devoted exclusively to lapidary, with, incidentally, a beautiful campus.

Many gemcutters, however, are self taught. This book offers a multitude of ideas of value to both the inexperienced and the long-time cutter. Acknowledgments are made and numerous other books and magazines recommended.

Recent advances are explained. The new De Beers designs, originally meant to promote lightly-colored diamonds, are found to be excellent for use by colored stone cutters, with only slight modifications.

For cutters who sometimes repair gems for others, Phil Thompson of Springfield, Mass., offers a good release form for customers to sign in case of breakage.

The book would have been easier for me to use as a beginner if sawing, cabbing, tumbling, faceting, polishing, etc., had been treated separately, instead of scattered through the text.

That said, it is a great source of tips, techniques, methods and procedures. – Robert K. Jeffery, Milford, Conn.; JCK book judge.