Sadly, one of the greatest watchmakers of the 20th century, George Daniels, OBE, FBHI, FAWCI, has passed away today, at the age of 85.
Born into a poor family in London just two years before the Great Depression, Daniels overcame great odds to become one of the most renowned and respected watchmakers of the past century.
A great craftsman and admirer of mechanical excellence, his estate on the Isle of Mann is home to one of the finest collections of vintage Bentleys in all of the United Kingdom. He has also had in his possession, over the years, watches from each of the greatest English watchmakers of all time, including those from Tompion, Mudge, and Arnold, and even more from the French born, Abraham-Louis Breguet, who many consider to be the greatest watchmaker who has ever lived. To Daniels great credit, no one else knew the work of Breguet more intimately than he, and no one else carried Breguet’s philosophy and spirit of watchmaking further in the last 100 years than Daniels himself; having handcrafted more than thirty, immaculate and sublimely complex timepieces from raw material through to final conception in his lifetime, and also having realized the successful execution one of Breguet’s lifelong pursuits — a lubrication free escapement — in his development of the co-axial escapement.
In the past decade, Steve Jobs has numerous times been compared to Breguet. He has even been dubbed by the likes of TechCrunch as the modern day Breguet. Watches were the pinnacle of technical excellence, artistry, and scientific discovery in the 19th century, and Breguet’s timepieces were the first to not only push the boundaries of what was possible, but also to perfectly marry these technical breakthroughs with beautiful, thoughtful design.
Having bested Breguet and built on his legacy, Daniels’ death marks a month of great loss for our little blue orb, with the passing of not one, but two great minds.
Top image from the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers