Daniels was one of the few watchmakers who ever lived who was able to create a complete watch by hand, including the jewels, case, dial, and hands. The only component he admitted to never having access to the technology and raw materials to produce was the hairspring. However, very few watchmaking companies are capable of producing their own hairsprings either (or even the mainspring or jewels for that matter). All of his watches feature masterly engine-turned dials, clearly laid out and strongly influenced by the work of Abraham-Louis Breguet.
Daniels first watch was commissioned by his good friend, Samuel Clutton, for £1000 in 1970. George Daniels later bought it back from Clutton for £8000. It was later sold again by Daniels and purchased back numerous times. The value of Daniels' life's work, of 37 timepieces, is estimated to be worth more than £3,000,000.
Contributions to Modern Escapements
George Daniels was perhaps most famous for his development of the co-axial escapement. The idea of using a co-axially mounted escape wheel was not original to Daniels' work, however the layout and adjustment of his version of the escapement was perfected to such a degree that it eliminated the need to lubricate the escapement, while still allowing it to be self-starting. As lubrication is the primary cause of degradation of the precision timekeeping of a timepiece, his escapement was a novel breakthrough.
In 1999, Omega introduced the escapement into limited number of their line-up of mass produced watches, employing a modified version of Daniels' original escapement that unifies the function of the pinion and upper escape wheel into a single unit. Although Daniels original escapement had proven to run without oil for more than 30 years, Omega stipulates in its technical documentation, for watches with a escapement, that the escapement must be lubricated; albeit very minimally.
Daniels' independent double wheel escapement has also found international support in the watch industry.
George Daniels authored and contributed to a number of books on horology, including:
- Watchmaking, published in 1981, is considered one of the best books on making a watch by hand (ISBN 0-85667-497-4).
- The Art of Breguet, published in 1974 (ISBN 0-85667-004-9).
- Watches, published in 1965 and co-authored with Cecil (Sam) Clutton. (Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 65-15108).
- English and American Watches, published in 1966.
- The Practical Watch Escapement, published in 1994.
- All in Good Time: Reflections of a Watchmaker, Daniels auto-biography, published in 2000 (ISBN 0-85667-680-2).
- Watches & Clocks in the Sir David Salomons Collection, published in 1980 and co-authored with Ohannes Markarian.
Merits, Honours, and Awards
- Pastmaster of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers
- Tompion Gold Medal
- The British Horological Institute Gold Medal
- The City and Guilds of London Gold Medal
- The Arts, Sciences and Learning Award of the City of London
- The Victor Kullberg Medal of the Stockholm Watchmakers' Guild
- Member of the Order of the British Empire
- Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Elsewhere on the Web
- Official George Daniels website
- Video interview with George Daniels on the Web of Stories Website
- Pictures of his Watches on Watchmaking.com
- Short Biography and Photograph on OmegaWatches.com
- An animation of George Daniels' co-axial escapement
- Interview with the BBC after being awarded the title Commander of the British Empire (CBE)
- Inside the Workshop of George Daniels
- All in Good Time: Reflections of a Watchmaker, George Daniels, Isle of Man, 2000, ISBN 0-85667-680-2
- Watches, Clutton, Cecil and George Daniels, B. T. Batsford, Ltd., London, 1965
- English and American Watches, George Daniels, 1966
- The Art of Breguet, George Daniels, Sotheby Parke Bernet, London, 1974 ISBN 0-85667-004-9
- Watchmaking, George Daniels, Sotheby's, London, 1981 ISBN 0-85667-150-9 (2002 edition ISBN 0-85667-497-4)
- The Practical Watch Escapement, George Daniels Isle of Man, 1994
- The Great Breguet Book Reference
- About George Daniels at DanielsLondon.com