It has been a historic month for watch auctions. A Rolex Single Red, Sea-Dweller prototype sold yesterday at Antiquorum for half a million dollars (yes, that is a time only, stainless steel watch). J.B. Champion’s Observatory Chronometer from Patek Philippe also sold yesterday at Christies in Geneva for nearly $4 million, as did a Perpetual Calendar Chronograph from Patek, owned by Eric Clapton, for just north of $3.6 million.
One of the most historic horological auctions of all, that took place this month, however, was that of the late George Daniels’ Horological Collection, by Sotheby’s in London, last week. To gain some firsthand perspective of his work and the significance of some of the timepieces that were up for auction I recommend watching this video, from the Wall Street Journal, featuring several of Daniels’ timepieces explained by Michael Clerizo, journalist & author of Masters of Contemporary Watchmaking.
George Daniels was, arguably, the most impactful watchmaker of the 20th century. He was also an inventor, author, mentor, and avid collector and racer of vintage Bentleys. Many of the independent watchmakers who are members of the AHCI list him as the watchmaker who inspired them most. F.P. Journe – a most remarkable watchmaker in his own right – gifted George Daniels with a specially crafted Chronometre Souverain a year before Daniels passed away last October. Engraved on the balance cock of the watch were the words “FP to George Daniels My Mentor”. George Daniels’ legacy lives on in the spirit of fellow English watchmaker Roger W. Smith, who apprenticed under him directly, as well as the countless other watchmakers inspired by his thoroughly descriptive book, Watchmaking.
Where Watchmaking details the craft behind George Daniels’ timepieces, his autobiography, All in Good Time, details their history and the story of the man who made them. Hot on the tail of last week’s George Daniels auction, his publisher has recently rereleased All in Good Time: Reflections of a Watchmaker. The title went back on sale at the end of October in the UK and just hit store shelves today in North America. Amazon’s first round of stock sold out in just a few hours, but there are still some copies showing as available over on Amazon.co.uk.
For a small taste of another, up-and-coming book on the life of George Daniels, written by Michael Clerizo, I highly recommend reading this article from last week’s Wall Street Journal. Clerizo’s forthcoming book, entitled George Daniels: Master Watchmaker & His Art will go on sale in 2013 and is available for pre-order now.