A Grand Complication: The Race to Build the World's Most Legendary Watch

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Two wealthy, powerful men engage in a decades-long contest to create and possess the most remarkable watch in history.

James Ward Packard of Warren, Ohio, was an entrepreneur and a talented engineer of infinite curiosity, a self-made man who earned millions from his inventions, including the design and manufacture of America’s first luxury car—the elegant and storied Packard. Henry Graves, Jr., was the very essence of blue-blooded refinement in the early 1900s: son of a Wall Street financier, a central figure in New York high society, and a connoisseur of beautiful things—especially fine watches.

Then, as now, expensive watches were the ultimate sign of luxury and wealth, but in the early twentieth century the limitless ambition, wealth, and creativity of these two men pushed the boundaries of mathematics, astronomy, craftsmanship, technology, and physics to create ever more ingenious timepieces.

In any watch, features beyond the display of hours, minutes, and seconds are known as “complications.” Packard and Graves spurred acclaimed Swiss watchmaker Patek Philippe to create the Mona Lisa of timepieces—a fabled watch that incorporated twenty-four complications and took nearly eight years to design and build. For the period, it was the most complicated watch ever created. For years it disappeared, but then it surfaced at a Sotheby’s auction in 1999, touching off a heated bidding war, shattering all known records when it fetched $11 million from an anonymous bidder.

New York Times bestselling author Stacy Perman takes us from the clubby world of New York high society into the ateliers of the greatest Swiss watchmakers, and into the high-octane, often secretive subculture of modern-day watch collecting. With meticulous research, vivid historical details, and a wealth of dynamic personalities, A Grand Complication is the fascinating story of the thrilling duel between two of the most intriguing men of the early twentieth century. Above all, it is a sweeping chronicle of innovation, the desire for beauty, and the lengths people will go to possess it.
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About the author

Stacy Perman is an award-winning journalist and the author of the New York Times bestseller In-N-Out Burger. The recipient of a MacDowell fellowship, she is a former writer with Business Week and Time. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, and many other publications. She lives in New York City.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Simon and Schuster
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Published on
Feb 19, 2013
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Pages
352
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ISBN
9781439190104
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Rich & Famous
History / General
History / United States / 20th Century
Technology & Engineering / History
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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In Spies, Inc. former Time and Business 2.0 writer Stacy Perman reveals the spellbinding story of the Israeli military and 8200, the ultra-secret high-tech intelligence unit whose alumni helped create a number of the groundbreaking technologies behind today's information revolution. An incredible tale in its own right, 8200 is also a remarkable case study in innovation, offering compelling lessons for every business.

Likened to the NSA in the U.S., 8200 was established to capture, decipher, and analyze enemy transmissions. But unlike the NSA, 8200 did not have an endless font of resources at its disposal...and, due to secrecy, it couldn't generally buy "off-the-shelf" as a matter of procedure. Instead, it invented and customized many of its own technologies around the unique challenges of a nation that exists on a constant war-footing.

Along the way, its soldiers learned to come up with breakthroughs under crushing pressure and challenges. They brought this same sense of purpose under fire and creative improvisation in creating complex systems to the civilian world where they created top-line technology companies in a number of areas, including wireless communications and security.

Whispers of these secret Israeli electronic warriors swept venture capital circles in the 1990s, as a stunning number of Israeli tech startups bore fruit...many founded by 8200 veterans. Now, Stacy Perman tells this incredible story...revealing the techniques of entrepreneurship on the fly, when failure is not an option.

In Spies, Inc. former Time and Business 2.0 writer Stacy Perman reveals the spellbinding story of the Israeli military and 8200, the ultra-secret high-tech intelligence unit whose alumni helped create a number of the groundbreaking technologies behind today's information revolution. An incredible tale in its own right, 8200 is also a remarkable case study in innovation, offering compelling lessons for every business.

Likened to the NSA in the U.S., 8200 was established to capture, decipher, and analyze enemy transmissions. But unlike the NSA, 8200 did not have an endless font of resources at its disposal...and, due to secrecy, it couldn't generally buy "off-the-shelf" as a matter of procedure. Instead, it invented and customized many of its own technologies around the unique challenges of a nation that exists on a constant war-footing.

Along the way, its soldiers learned to come up with breakthroughs under crushing pressure and challenges. They brought this same sense of purpose under fire and creative improvisation in creating complex systems to the civilian world where they created top-line technology companies in a number of areas, including wireless communications and security.

Whispers of these secret Israeli electronic warriors swept venture capital circles in the 1990s, as a stunning number of Israeli tech startups bore fruit...many founded by 8200 veterans. Now, Stacy Perman tells this incredible story...revealing the techniques of entrepreneurship on the fly, when failure is not an option.

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