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Vintage watch Wednesday: George Daniels, A Master Watchmaker & His Art

by Michael Weare
19 December, 2012
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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

George Daniels, A Master Watchmaker and His Art

A watchmaker of the calibre of George Daniels comes along maybe once in half a dozen generations, and even though some of George Daniel’s beautiful hand-made watches won’t count as vintage just yet, they will certainly become pieces as important and valuable as anything Breguet ever created in time to come. As the recent auction of his watches at Sotheby’s showed, they are already well underway, and the value of them will head steadily skywards.

A tough North London childhood had given him a nose for a deal and a sharp sense of the value of everything. But his pieces were private experiments, not commissions. He wanted to build watches that kept better time than any in the five hundred years before, and he succeeded.

To celebrate the work of the master watch designer and inventor who was regarded as the finest exponent of his craft in the world, a new book has been published. It’s an elegant volume, replete with detailed photographs of all Daniels’s unique watches (both dial and movement) alongside rare and previously unseen images from Daniels’s own archive of photographs and working drawings.

George Daniels

George Daniels

Over the course of his career Daniels meticulously constructed 25 unique mechanical watches using antiquated tools, creating almost every component by hand. Each is a work of great originality and exceptional beauty, and each of his creations are appreciated as milestones in the art of watchmaking

While admired for their lucidity of appearance and unadorned dials, Daniels’s watches often house a raft of exquisite complications, such as tourbillons, thermometers and power reserve indicators. His more intricate designs also incorporate perpetual calendars and minute repeaters, as well as indictors displaying mean solar and sidereal time, the age and phases of the moon, and the equation of time. This from a man who for a time worked as a tyre fitter and in a mattress factory.

Most significant of all Daniels’s contributions to the field of mechanical horology was a revolutionary invention of his own: the co-axial escapement. This, the first noteworthy advance in practical watch design since Thomas Mudge’s lever escapement of 1754, saved a mechanical watch industry in danger of being overwhelmed by mass-produced, quartz-controlled wristwatches.

The author Michael Clerizo worked closely with George Daniels in the preparation of this book, the watchmaker recounted episodes from his life and career over their innumerable conversations at his home on the Isle of Man. This ample biography is also contained within the book, ensuring a fitting and authentic tribute to the greatest watchmaker of the modern era. The book is expected to be published in February 2013, and the book can be ordered at Watchprint.com. Price: €93.00

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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