Fascinated by watches, George Daniels chose to devote his professional life to them. A repair craftsman of great skill, he became a specialist of Breguet and then made his own watches with an increasing complexity.
In the era of quartz watches, Daniels managed to demonstrate that mechanical watches could still be fully competitive. His invention of the co-axial escapement which suppresses the need for a lubricant is one of the most important advances in watchmaking since Breguet.
In a career that began in 1970, Daniels has completed 37 watches made entirely in his workshop from elementary components to final assembly. Sotheby's devoted an exhibition to them in London in 2006.
Daniels was a lover of great mechanics. The remarkable Bentley Blower racing car sold for £ 5M including premium by Bonhams on 29 June 2012 came from his deceased estate.
I am listing below four watches from his personal work. These 2012 results include the premium.
Made circa 1982, the Space Travellers' watch including a double-wheel escapement was sold for £ 1.33M.
Made around 1987 the Grand Complication watch is a very good example of Daniels' co-axial escapement. It was sold for £ 920K.
As its name suggests, the First wristwatch made circa 1991 is a rare example of a wristwatch incorporating the co-axial escapement. It was sold for £ 385K. A more recent watch made in 1994 was sold for £ 660K over an estimate of £ 300K.
The Space Travellers' watch comes back to Sotheby's in London on September 19, lot 121 estimated £ 1.2M. It is a great opportunity to revisit its remarkable complication. Made in 1982 the only other example is simpler, without a chronograph function : the 2012 catalogue reminded that it was sold for CHF 220K by Sotheby's on November 17, 1988.
Based on a different denting of the two wheels Daniels had been able to realize a watch compensating at the will of the user the difference of 3.555 minutes per day between solar and sidereal times. Well aware that it was a sensational horological feat Dr Daniels exhibited it sometimes at events as a dress watch, stating that it was the suitable instrument to control the time in a long telephone conversation during a trip to Mars.
Please watch the video shared by Sotheby's before the 2012 sale.
SOLD for £ 3.2M including premium