George Daniels is often referred to as one of the most influential watchmakers of the last one hundred years. He was self-taught in making classic men’s watches, and pocket watches with the iconic horologist only making just short of thirty timepieces on his own before his passing back in 2011.
George Daniels was different from many of the contemporary luxury watch makers. He had some tuition in the art of watchmaking from a few evening classes in London, but relied on his trial and error at first as he meticulously used jewellery and precise watchmaking tools in the confines of his bedroom, he soon got the hang of it… to say the least! In the last twenty years of life, he graduated from the bedroom and made his watches in his spacious studio on the Isle of Man.
Now, two of his expertly crafted watches are heading to iconic auction house Sotheby’s, much to the delight of collectors and watch lovers around the world.
David Newman, chairman of the George Daniels Educational Trust, said:
“It’s not a lot, but every one was different, and every one superseded the previous one in design and novelty. He made everything in his workshop: He made the dials, he did the engraving. It would be about a year per watch, from start to finish.”
On April 25th, Sotheby’s London auction house will see the first watch go under the hammer; a white gold Daniels Millennium wristwatch which was created as part of a series between Mr Daniels and his apprentice, Roger Smith. Then on July 6th, during “The Celebration of the English Watch Part IV: George Daniels, 20th Century Innovator” will see the fourth watch George Daniels created; an exquisite gold tourbillon chronometer.
Senior Vice President at Sotheby’s and chairwoman of its international watch division, Daryn Schnipper added:
“He was sort of the father of independent horologists in the 20th and 21st centuries. In the late ’60s and ’70s, there was no such thing as an independent watchmaker”.
She also spoke of his ingenuity of thinking up and making the Co-Axial escapement in the 70’s, at a time when the watch industry was going through a mini-crisis by the expanding popularity of low-maintenance quartz watches, saying:
“His answer was the Co-Axial escapement, which could run for years with no oil, and is non-friction”. Leading watch manufacturer Omega purchased the rights to this movement in 1994, and in 1999 the movement was added to their own watches.
It’s not the first-time George Daniels’ beautiful mechanisms have been in the auction rooms at Sotheby’s. In 2012, nine of his watches were bid on, the most expensive one, a yellow gold chronograph pocket watch, sold for more than £1.3 million! He also worked as a watch consultant for Sotheby’s for nearly forty years.
We will keep you updated when the hammer drops on these wonderful watches next month.
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