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Prototype of the Daniels’ Co-Axial 35th Anniversary Edition Watch

by Michael Weare
3 January, 2011
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About the author

Michael Weare has been a professional writer for 30 years, writing about Japanese technology, German and Italian cars, British tailoring and Swiss watches. Michael manages the editorial content of Click Tempus and will be keeping the magazine fresh and informative with regular features, as well as bringing great writers to the magazine. Email: michael@clicktempus.com

Prototype of George Daniels 35th Anniversary Co-Axial watch

We begin 2011 with a small hurrah for English watchmaking.

Throughout his career George Daniels has applied himself relentlessly to the major task of redesigning the mechanical watch escapement to compete on equal terms with the quartz watch which had threatened its future. Now George, in association with his former protégé Roger Smith, have recently released a prototype of the Co-Axial 35th Anniversary Edition Watch, designed by both masters and manufactured in Smith’s Isle of Man workshop.

The watch is based on Daniels’ 1994 one-off tourbillon chronograph pocket watch.

Co-Axial 35th Anniversary Edition Watch

 

Prototype of George Daniels 35th Anniversary Co-Axial watch

George Daniels pocket watch

The two most successful of his revolutionary escapements are the co-axial and the independent double-wheel, both of which have found international support in the notoriously conservative watch industry. These escapements represent the first advance in the practical design since the invention of the lever escapement by Thomas Mudge in 1754.

Drawing on Daniels’ unique body of work, George and Roger have worked together to create a new English calibre, cased, dialled and finished to Daniels exacting standards and classic style. It will be a manual wound wristwatch with power reserve indicator, calendar mechanism and seconds dial in a style reminiscent of the appearance of the famous tourbillon chronograph pocket watch created by Dr. Daniels in 1994. This new timepiece will be created in a Co-Axial Anniversary Edition of 35 pieces in 18ct yellow gold, with a case diameter of 40mm, individually numbered from 1 to 35. An additional 16 watches, created in 4 sets comprising 4 watches each in 18 carat yellow, red, white gold and platinum with a separate numbering will also be created as a special request item.

The manually wound movement is fully styled according to traditional English watchmaking: gold-plated, frosted surfaces emphasise the free-sprung balance and – naturally – the co-axial escapement. The time, date, and power reserve displays of this 35-piece limited edition housed in a 40mm case are found on a hand-guilloché solid silver dial with 18ct gold chapters. “Simplicity is seen as the keynote of enduring beauty,” explain Daniels and Smith.

 

roger-smith-and-george-daniels

George Daniels is considered by many “the greatest living watchmaker.”

Now 84 years old, he made all his watches by hand.

Daniels celebrated this escapement not only in his own Millennium wristwatch series (completed with his former protégé Roger Smith’s involvement), it also continues to live on in Roger Smith’s own handmade bespoke watches. Smith was Daniels’ only apprentice, and it is he, working from his Isle of Man workshop, who now almost single handedly carries the torch for traditional English watchmaking.

It’s a far cry from the days in the Fleet Street area of London when it resembled the watch industry that is Switzerland today. Components for watches were manufactured in separate workshops (plates, pinions, cogs, and hands) then assembled by a watchmaker. The names of Tompion, Graham and Mudge were held in scientific and artistic esteem. England produced watches that were the envy of the world.

But like many things the English invented or first developed, the British watch industry lost out to the Americans and then the Swiss. In turn the mechanical watch industry lost out to the quartz industry; and the mechanical watch industry in England reverted back to hand-made pieces with minimal machine input and the product of a sole watchmaker.

George Daniels has stood out as one of the few watchmakers showing the world it is possible to survive as a sole manufacturer of mechanical watches. From his small workshop, first in London, then on the Isle of Man, he believed he could restore the mechanical watch with an ability to outlast and outperform what appeared as a superior timekeeper. The Co-Axial 35th Anniversary Edition celebrates this achievement.

The price for each of the individually numbered watches is £142,000 excluding VAT, but getting your hands on one of the 35 limited edition timepieces is likely to be as tough as mastering time itself.

Michael Weare | Website

Michael Weare has been a professional writer for 30 years, writing about Japanese technology, German and Italian cars, British tailoring and Swiss watches. Michael manages the editorial content of Click Tempus and will be keeping the magazine fresh and informative with regular features, as well as bringing great writers to the magazine. Email: michael@clicktempus.com

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