Hodder has acquired the rights to "a history of time" from watchmaker and historian Rebecca Struthers following a "fiercely fought", seven-way auction.
Non-fiction publisher Kirty Topiwala bought UK and Commonwealth rights from Kirsty McLachlan at DGA. Italian rights have been pre-empted and German rights sold at auction. US rights were also won at auction, by HarperCollins.
Due to be published in 2022, the book is an exploration of history, science, art, and craft, focusing on watches. Each chapter will start with a different timepiece, as seen through the eyes of a watchmaker.
According to Hodder, it will take readers "from mankind’s earliest attempts to measure time as it relates to celestial bodies, to the first watches emerging out of the Black Forest at the beginning of the 16th century, to Rebecca’s own work in the 21st century" as "a story of adventure and innovation, full of eccentric characters and fascinating detail".
Struthers is the first watchmaker to earn a PhD in horology (the study of time). She co-founded her own workshop in Birmingham’s jewellery quarter at the age of 26 with her husband and fellow watchmaker, Craig. Together they use heritage machines and equipment and traditional artisan techniques to restore heritage pieces and craft their own bespoke watches.
Topiwala said: "this is a very special book, at once intricate and expansive. Just as every tiny watch cog relates to a much larger mechanism, Rebecca connects her craft to themes like time, mortality, gender-politics and exploration. It is this blend of precision and sweeping ambition, as well as Rebecca’s unique voice and perspective, that made me fall completely in love with Hands of Time."
Struthers said: "the world of the watchmaker is very solitary and incredibly focused, working with complex mechanisms that are often smaller than a thumbnail. The inspiration of horology is the universe, its physical manifestation is the watch, and the journey between the two has taken tens of thousands of years. I have always loved this contrast between the macro and the micro. I’m very much looking forward to sharing this world and all of the wonderful stories that go with it."
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