Famous British Watchmakers – George Daniels

George Daniels (1926-2011) stands as an iconic figure in the realm of horology, leaving an indelible mark on the world of watchmaking. Born in London, Daniels embarked on his journey into the world of timekeeping at the age of 15, commencing an apprenticeship that would shape the course of his illustrious career.

Despite lacking formal education in watchmaking, Daniels exhibited an innate talent and an insatiable curiosity for mechanical devices. His early twenties saw him gain recognition as a skilled and inventive craftsman.

One of his most groundbreaking contributions was the invention of the Co-Axial escapement, a transformative breakthrough that significantly enhanced the accuracy and efficiency of mechanical watches. Initially met with scepticism, Daniels’ invention ultimately revolutionized modern watchmaking, showcasing his prowess in pushing the boundaries of what was achievable in timekeeping mechanisms.

Daniels was not merely a technical innovator but also a passionate advocate for preserving traditional craftsmanship in an era dominated by mass production. Faced with the encroachment of quartz watches, he staunchly defended the art of handmade watchmaking. As documented in the excellent film “The Watchmaker’s Apprentice”, Daniels’ acted as a mentor to Roger Smith who has continued with George Daniels’ work on the Isle of Man. Roger Smith has further developed and refining the co-axial escapement in his own fantastic range of handmade watches.

One of the masterpieces that exemplified Daniels’ technical and artistic brilliance was the Space Traveller watch. This double-dial timepiece featured both mean solar time and sidereal time, along with various astronomical indications, showcasing Daniels’ ability to blend functionality with intricate design.

Daniels’ commitment to craftsmanship extended beyond his own creations; he penned the authoritative book “Watchmaking,” a seminal guide in the field that shared his knowledge and insights with aspiring watchmakers. His teachings became essential resources, ensuring that his legacy would continue to shape the next generation of horologists.

Unsurprisingly George Daniels has received numerous accolades throughout the years. These include the prestigious Gold Medal from the British Horological Institute, Gold Medal from the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers, Gold Medal from the City and Guilds of London Institute, a CBE in 1981 and even a Gold Blue Peter Badge.

In essence, George Daniels’ story is one of innovation, craftsmanship, and an unwavering dedication to the art of watchmaking. His technical brilliance and commitment to preserving tradition have left an enduring legacy that continues to inspire and guide watchmakers worldwide. Daniels’ contributions have ensured that the timeless beauty and appreciation of mechanical timepieces will persist for generations to come.

Yours sincerely

David Clark FGA DGA MJVA PJDip. PJGemDip.

Managing Director, JVA Registered Valuer®

W.E. Clark & Son Limited