Lot 121
  • 121

George Daniels

1,200,000 - 1,800,000 GBP
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  • George Daniels
  • yellow gold
  • diameter 63mm
• gilt brass movement with Lepine calibre construction, 32-hour duration, two going barrels with contra-rotating trains driving the two escape wheels of the Daniels independent double-wheel, incorporating a 'Y' shaped central locking detent with three pallets, mono-metallic stainless steel four-arm balance with gold adjusting screws and Daniels auxiliary compensation, free-sprung overcoil balance spring, the two trains calculated for mean-solar and sidereal time including seconds, annual calendar ring with kidney-cam and equation of time indication, accurate lunar dial driven from the sidereal train and indication of the age and phase of the moon, centre-seconds chronograph mechanism engaging either train, selected by a lever on the movement • silver engine-turned dial with 24-hour chapter ring to the left for sidereal time, 12-hour chapter ring to the right for mean-solar time, each with overlapping subsidiary seconds dials below, roman and arabic numerals, outer seconds track for chronograph, aperture in the mean-solar chapter ring for the annual calendar, apertures in the sidereal dial for the age and phase of the moon, fan-form sector above for equation of time, signed Daniels in a cartouche below the seconds rings, gold Daniels hands to the mean-solar dials and blued-steel Daniels hands to the sidereal dials and chronograph • case with engine-turned bezels, glazed back with two round buttons in the band for chronograph, Daniels pendant and bow • dial and movement signed • attached yellow gold double-link chain and gold and blued steel double ended key


George Daniels' Personal Collection
Sotheby’s London, The George Daniels Horological Collection, 6th November 2012, lot 9
Private Collection


George Daniels Retrospective Exhibition, Exhibit No.16, Sotheby's London, 18-23 July, 2006
Salon QP, Saatchi Gallery, London, November 2010


Clerizo, M., George Daniels, A Master Watchmaker and His Art, 2013, front cover illustration & pp. 142-145
Daniels, G., All in Good Time, Reflections of a Watchmaker, 2013, pp. 112-113, 214-215 & plate 44
Daniels, G., The Practical Watch Escapement, 1994, p. 78
Daniels, G., Watchmaking, 2014, plates XV, XVI, XVII, XVIII
Sotheby’s, George Daniels Retrospective Exhibition Catalogue, London, 2006, pp. 15 & 54-57


The movement is running. Chronograph is functioning. Calendar and moon-phases advancing. Dial in good condition. Some minor scuffs to the case but overall in very good condition. A service was carried out approximately five years ago by Roger W. Smith. For further information on this important lot please contact one of the specialists in the department. The watch has not been tested to determine the accuracy of its timekeeping. Please note that Sotheby's does not guarantee the future working of the movement and that a service may be required at the buyer's discretion.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. All dimensions in catalogue descriptions are approximate. Condition reports may not specify mechanical replacements or imperfections to the movement, case, dial, pendulum, separate base(s) or dome. Watches in water-resistant cases have been opened to examine movements but no warranties are made that the watches are currently water-resistant. Please note that we do not guarantee the authenticity of any individual component parts, such as wheels, hands, crowns, crystals, screws, bracelets and leather bands, since subsequent repairs and restoration work may have resulted in the replacement of original parts. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue. In particular, please note it is the purchaser's responsibility to comply with any applicable import and export matters, particularly in relation to lots incorporating materials from endangered species.NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."

**Please be advised that bands made of materials derived from endangered or otherwise protected species (i.e. alligator and crocodile) are not sold with the watches and are for display purposes only. We reserve the right to remove these bands prior to shipping."

Catalogue Note

Accompanied by a George Daniels presentation case.

This piece holds special memories for me for this was more often than not George’s dress watch of choice at events and was the watch that he wore during his visit to the then Manchester School of Horology where I studied. It was the sight of this watch which steered me from the repair of watches to their making. The watch was made in circa 1982 and very quickly achieved its iconic status for its stunning aesthetic appeal and fascinating movement.

In 2012 I was fortunate enough to have been given the opportunity to refresh the piece which resulted in a complete strip down of the mechanism. It was whilst working on the piece that my view of George changed dramatically, for the mechanism was like no other that I have seen before, or since.

The level of creativity throughout is out of this world, and you can see how George circumvented a potential design issue with simplistic brilliance. One of the stand-out features for me are the two escape wheels, which drive the common balance. This is George’s unique double-wheeled escapement but with this piece the Sidereal train has an escape wheel of fourteen teeth, whereas the Solar train has just thirteen. The geometric difficulties that this feature creates are mind boggling and I am sure the very idea would have stopped most makers in their tracks. For George however, it was simply another challenge that had to be overcome.

Another interesting feature is the chronograph mechanism which allows the user to switch between recording solar or sidereal seconds. In order to achieve this the maker developed a clutch system which was the genesis for his unique compact chronograph mechanism which would feature in two further watches.  

This watch was the culmination of thirteen years of making highly original one-off pieces and went on to be the catalyst for many future developments.

[The above extract was written by Roger Smith]

In 1974 George Daniels invented the independent double-wheel escapement; the movement was to captivate collectors with its visual appeal of symmetrical trains. 
George Daniels was on a trip to Zurich where he met an important collector for dinner.  The collector nudged him and said ‘what do you have in your pocket’, so he took out his watch, a gold Daniels pocket watch with independent double-wheel escapement. The collector said he had to have the watch and asked him to sell it to him. Daniels said it was not for sale but the collector persisted. Thinking this was an enormous compliment as the collector had not even asked the price, Daniels sold him the watch. Immediately regretting his decision, Daniels decided to make another watch which would be an improvement on the first both in terms of complication and accuracy. Having not fully exploited the first watch, the second watch would have separate calculations for each train, it was therefore possible to indicate both mean-solar and sidereal time.
In the 18thcentury, to check the accuracy of your watch, you had to have a precision clock which was set by a star. This watch, by means of having solar and sidereal time, could make the calculation for you, the difference being 3.555 minutes per day.

To try and improve the calculation of the train which allowed for an error of 0.8 seconds per year, George Daniels contacted a friend at Cambridge University to ask if they knew of a mathematician interested in watches. He received a response almost immediately and extraordinarily enough the mathematicians name was Professor Daniels.  The professor was able to calculate a better ratio of 0.28 seconds per day, which George Daniels was very happy with.

George Daniels used to say to people, ‘when you are on your package tour to Mars you need a watch like this, and when using the telephone for long distance calls you could switch the chronograph into sidereal time to cut your bills by 3.555 minutes per day’.

Originally the watch had been referred to as the Daniels squared (2) because of the assistance he received from Professor Henry Daniels, but George Daniels did not think this was good enough, so re-named it the ‘Space Travellers'’ watch in honour of the American landing on the moon which was the greatest space exploratory journey of the century.

George Daniels made two Space Travellers' watches. The first, originally sold by Bobinet in 1982, was subsequently sold at Sotheby’s Geneva to a private collector, on 17th November 1988. The present watch, the Second Space Traveller, is the most complex of the two watches, having the addition of the chronograph function. Viewing the two movements side by side, one is immediately struck by the added complexity of the chronograph work visible to the backplate of the Space Traveller II. The central bridge work on the Traveller II is noticeably slimmer than Traveller I, this is in order to incorporate II's chronograph work. It is also interesting to note that the case back of the Space Traveller II is fully glazed – as Roger Smith has observed, this was Daniels' dress watch of choice, especially at events. Of course everyone was always keen to see what watch George Daniels was wearing – the design of this watch meant that, not only could the viewer marvel at the beauty of its dial, but they could be equally mesmerised by the complexity and wonder of the movement, clearly visible through the exhibition case back.