NEW YORK - The international watch world descended on Sotheby’s London yesterday to witness an extraordinary auction. It was standing room only as the horological collection of George Daniels sold for £8,285,139 (more than doubling the pre-sale low estimate), a testament to the expertise and formidable reputation of this fabled maker and cementing his legacy as truly one of the greatest British watchmakers of all time.
However, the collection encompassed 400 years of clock and watch history with timepieces by such legendary names as Joseph Knibb, Thomas Tompion and Abraham-Louis Breuget. One hundred and thirty-seven lots were offered – with some 98.5% selling – and perhaps fittingly the highest price was reserved for one of the nine watches in the auction made by Daniels himself. His Space Traveller’s Watch sold for £1,329,250, setting a record not only for a Daniels watch at auction, but also a record for an English watch and for an independent watchmaker.
All of the proceeds from the auction will serve to benefit the George Daniels Educational Trust. To me it is a fitting tribute for a man whose love of watchmaking did so much not only to sustain the creation of handmade timepieces, but also to advance the technology of this historic field so it is truly thriving in the 21st century.