Do timepieces help us feel a bit more in control? Foulkes certainly thinks so. Clocks, he says, became status symbols because 'they bolstered the illusion that man had domesticated the terrible predator time'. In the chapter about the Antikythera Mechanism, an ancient Greek device that portrayed astronomical movements, he writes that 'recreating the journeys of the planet and stars through the celestial vault brought man a step further away from the beasts and a step closer to the divine'. The book is beautifully illustrated. I spent ages gazing at the photograph of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso, as well as the opposite page, which shows the watch's technical drawings.