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British pocket watch maker remembered (part I)


While the items we normally look boast an inscription or engraving to speak of, this week we cannot help but marvel at the bespoke pieces of George Daniels.

George Daniels was a British watch-maker who died in 2011 at the age of 85, and was considered to be the best in the world during his lifetime.

Making only 37 watches, every piece was custom made for each client. All the parts were made individually by hand and would involve up to 2,500 hours of work to complete.

They were totally unique creations that reflected the character of the owner – if Mr Daniels didn’t like the person, then he wouldn’t make the pocket watch.

As well as crafting complete time pieces, George Daniels also invented the coaxial escapement in 1974.

This has been considered as perhaps the most significant advancement in horology in the last 250 years as it eliminated the need for lubricant in the mechanism of a watch.

Where oil tends to thicken over time and cause friction which brings timing inaccuracies, a coaxial movement works with radial friction instead of sliding friction, and so reduces the wear.

Despite this, it was first met with a lukewarm reception by the watch industry, and it was not until the 1980s that the Chairman of the Swatch Group recognised its significance and incorporated the technology in their models.

It was later still in 1999 that the Omega brand (part of the Swatch Group) unveiled its first automatic watch to great acclaim.

However, it is for his pocket watches that George Daniels is perhaps best remembered and which holds his legacy.

Having reported from an auction house recently on the record sale of Paul Newman’s timepiece, Mr Daniels can claim some auction records of his own.

Next week, we look forward to bringing you a condensed history of the George Daniels pocket watch name and how it commands the price that it does.

But in the meantime, do browse some of our own mechanical pocket watches which recall the spirit of one of this country’s greatest watchmakers and offer a taste of the passion of the great man.