A Sotheby’s auction on 6th November 2012 will offer up a private collection of clocks and watches belonging to pioneering British watchmaker and inventor George Daniels (1926-2011), most of which have never before been available on the open market.
George Daniels was often described as ‘the world’s most important watchmaker of his lifetime’. A self-taught genius, his work inspired generations of young watch smiths to try their hand at making their own timepieces, and the scope of his influence led him to be bestowed the title of ‘Commander of the Order of the British Empire’. Daniels worked as a horological consultant for Sotheby’s for over 40 years, and it was prearranged in his will that the hallowed London auction house should serve to ensure his collection ended up in the best of hands.
A lifelong passion
By his own account, George Daniels began his lifelong obsession with time at the age of five, when he first pried apart a broken pocket watch he found in his parents’ home. Fascinated by the miniature world he found inside, he began repairing watches of all kinds, his interest centered on the work of his idol, Breguet. Eventually however, he grew tired of adapting his ideas to the style of another makers and began creating his own watches. In his lifetime, he would go on to build a total of 37 watches entirely on his own, manufacturing each and every component down to the screws himself.
Part of the enigma of George Daniels’s success and reputation as a watchmaker is due to the intense perfectionism that pervades his work. The meticulous attention to detail that went into creating each and every component of his works entirely by hand led him to search for new and better ways to keep time. His invention of the Co-Axial escapement mechanism in 1976 marked the first new development in the field of mechanical timekeeping in over 250 years, eventually becoming the standard design for all Omega mechanical wristwatches. Daniels was also known for a mechanical watch he created in the mid 1970s that remained accurate to within a second for 32 days – better than the performance of a modern quartz watch.
Under the supervision of Roger Smith, George Daniels’s only student, and an equally famous watchmaker in his own right, Sotheby’s of London will be auctioning 137 pieces from his private collection. These include Daniels’s Grand Complication watch, Space Traveller watch (created to celebrate the first moon landing), and his very first wristwatch. All proceeds from the auction will be donated to The George Daniels Educational Trust.
More information about the George Daniels Horological Collection auction.