he exhibit explores the evolution of timepieces ranging from time-only pocket watches to inventive escapements, gem-encrusted cases and highly complicated pieces.
"Pocket Genius” highlights timepieces dating from the 1690s to the 1990s, examining the role that watches have played in society, from their use in navigation and timekeeping to their use as status symbols and works of art. Highlights include a dumb quarter-repeating jump-hour pocket watch by Abraham-Louis Breguet, a co-axial escapement by Charles Fasoldt, complicated timepieces like Louis Chanson’s skeletonized perpetual calendar with a lunar indicator, and enameled masterpieces by Patek Philippe for Tiffany & Co.
The collection is on loan from Alex Ku, a California-based watch aficionado. Although Ku has only been collecting watches for seven years, he has amassed a curated arsenal of some of the most important and impressive watches in horological history.
“To carry a pocket watch crafted by a historical master watchmaker is to feel that you hold a piece of horological history in your hand,” said Ku. “For many pieces in my collection, the mission to discover their stories really began only after acquiring them. I’m proud to share pieces from my collection for all to view and learn from, as I have.”
The exhibit, on display at HSNY’s Jost Bürgi Research Library, is divided into four sections: “Historical Watchmakers,” “Escapements,” “Complications” and “Aesthetics.” Bonus material includes a George Daniels co-axial escapement model, on loan from British independent watchmaker and Daniels protegee Roger W. Smith OBE.
“The watches in this exhibit represent the pinnacle of watchmaking craftsmanship and are a testament to the ingenuity of the human mind,” said Nicholas Manousos, HSNY Executive Director. “I extend my sincere thanks to Alex Ku for his vision in collecting important pocket watches and for his enthusiasm in making this exhibit happen.”
The exhibit is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalog, which includes macro photography by Atom Moore and Collector Notes from Ku. The catalog is available for purchase in-person and online at hs-ny.org/shop. Proceeds from the sales go towards meeting HSNY’s mission of advancing the art and science of horology.
“Pocket Genius” is open to the public Monday through Friday from 10AM to 5PM. Admission is free. HSNY is located at 20 West 44th Street, Suite 501, New York, NY 10036. Learn more at https://hs-ny.org/exhibits.