- George Daniels
- Breguet et fils No.3225; a replica weight-driven three-wheel skeleton timepiece with equation, Gregorian & French Revolutionary annual calendar and days of the week
Sotheby’s London, The George Daniels Horological Collection, 6th November 2012, Lot 3
Daniels, G., The Art of Breguet, Sotheby Parke Bernet, 1974, pp 81-82 & col. pl. VIII p. 100
Daniels, G., All in Good Time, Reflections of a Watchmaker, 2013, p. 83, plate 18
Sotheby's, George Daniels Retrospective Exhibition Catalogue, Sotheby's, London
2006, p. 10-11
Completed by George in 1968 whilst working as an agent for Breguet (in London), this piece was completed fifteen years after the Mercer chronometer and a year prior to the making of his first pocket watch. The supreme mastery of George as a maker is now inherent with its exquisite execution.
It is of little surprise that this clock was accepted onto the books of Breguet by the then proprietor, George Brown and therefore has the accolade of being associated with one of the finest makers of the 19th Century and the finest maker of the 20th Century. This piece sat on the mantelpiece of George’s residence, Riversdale in the Isle of Man.
[The above extract was written by Roger Smith]
George’s fascination and admiration for the genius of Breguet is well known. As the world’s leading expert on Breguet, George examined, restored and photographed a vast array of Breguet clocks and watches. His study and expertise was shared in his important book, The Art of Breguet, which was published in 1975. It was during the early 1960s that Daniels first met George Brown, the then proprietor of Breguet in Paris. The pair soon became friends and Brown allowed Daniels access to the famous Breguet archives which recorded the date of manufacture of every Breguet clock and watch. This of course was an invaluable resource for George, as he noted in his autobiography, All in Good Time, “this information was important to my personal Breguet records in that it helped to give perspective to Breguet’s system of manufacture” [op. cit. p. 82]. It was during Brown’s visit to Daniels’ workshop to examine the present three-wheel timepiece, that George mentioned he was starting the manufacture of his first watch. Clearly impressed, Brown asked Daniels if he would consider making new Breguet watches. For Daniels this was of no interest for, as he later explained “this would have meant burying my own name under the Breguet mantle” and he later recounted telling Brown how “much as I admired Breguet, who was a direct inspiration for my detrmination to make my own watches, I was, in the modern context, inclined to prefer ‘Daniels of London’ to ‘Breguet of Paris’ "[All in Good Time, p. 83].
Breguet’s Pendule à Trois Roues
“As the name implies they have only three wheels to the train, but the gear ratios are such that the clocks will run for eight days between winding. The largest of the wheels rotates once in twenty-four hours and indicates the hour in sub-divisions of ten minutes. The next rotates in thirty minutes and by means of the three-spoked pointer indicates minutes on a ten-minute scale. In this way the ten-minute intervals of the hour dial are sub-divided for closer indication. The dial at the bottom rotates once each year and carries the equation cam for solar time. It has three hundred and sixty five teeth and is advanced one tooth each day by a pin in the largest wheel. It indicates the date and month of the Gregorian calendar and Revolutionary calendar by means of the cord crossing its upper surface. This cord suspends a plumb bob which in conjunction with a point carried on a bracket below is used also for setting the clock level. The column to the left has two pointers. One of these, in rising and falling relative to the other fixed one, indicates the equation for the day. The column on the right has one pointer for mean time. The indicators are fitted to a concealed arm behind the chapter ring and the solar indicator follows the curved edge. Compensation for the pendulum is by a bi-metallic strip above the knife-edge suspension. A weight on this is adjustable and can be moved along the strip to vary the effect of the compensation; screwing it up or down its threaded pillar will adjust for mean time. Changes of temperature are indicated on a scale at the free end of the bi-metallic strip by a pivoted pointer and scale seen at the top. There are two driving weights wound by a single square, and maintaining power prevents the clock from stopping during winding. The dials are silvered and the engraved divisions and numerals are filled with black wax. To avoid the confusion of a twenty-four-hour dial the twelve-hour periods are repeated.”
Extract written by George Daniels, The Art of Breguet, Sotheby Parke Bernet, 1975, p. 81
George Daniels was appointed London agent to Breguet in 1967 and had visited their Paris workshops where he had seen an original three-wheel timepiece. "Before that trip to Paris I had never seen one of these clocks. As far as can be determined Breguet made four: But when I saw it I was very struck by it. You could see how it worked in an instant” [Clerizo, George Daniels, p. 110]. His admiration was such that he asked George Brown (the then proprietor of Breguet) for permission to measure the original with a view to making a copy. Permission was granted and when George Brown visited George Daniels' London workshop he was so impressed with the copy that he suggested granting it a Breguet certificate so that it would be a genuine Breguet. This was agreed upon in exchange for the profit that Breguet would have achieved had they sold the timepiece, a practice that Breguet himself had engaged in. Daniels made just two examples of the three-wheel timepiece and each were entered into the Breguet records under numbers 3224 and 3225. Dr Daniels retained the present example, no. 3225, and it took pride of place on the mantelpiece in the drawing room of his Riversdale home until his death.
The original three wheel clocks, known as pendule à trois roues, were made by Breguet between 1795 and 1818, two are illustrated in Daniels’ book, The Art of Breguet, 1975, plates 104 & 99 – the former is unnumbered and the latter, which Daniels dates to c. 1795, is numbered 111.