Important Watches: Part I

Important Watches: Part I

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 51. Millennium | A limited edition yellow gold wristwatch with date | Made in 1999.

George Daniels, London

Millennium | A limited edition yellow gold wristwatch with date | Made in 1999

Auction Closed

May 12, 11:39 AM GMT


350,000 - 550,000 CHF

Lot Details


Dial: silvered engine turned, brushed chapter rings

Calibre: automatic, gilt brass co-axial escapement, engraved 'English' floral decoration by Charles Scarr

Case: 18k yellow gold, snap-on sapphire crystal display case back

Case number: 99

Closure: 18k yellow gold George Daniels pin buckle

Size: 37 mm diameter

Signed: case, dial and movement

Box: yes

Papers: no

Accessories: photocopy of a handwritten letter confirming sale, Christmas postcard from George Daniels congratulating the new owner of the watch and George Daniels presentation box 

Please note the leather strap derived from endangered species is for display purposes only and is not sold with the watch. The watch will be shipped with a Sotheby’s branded calf leather strap.

George Daniels began making watches in 1967 as he was motivated by, and deeply sceptical of, the rise of the quartz watch movement; one entirely reliant upon a battery. Never one to shy away from speaking his mind, he admitted that he was, "incensed by the hysterical adulation of the quartz watch by people who didn't really understand it's failings". One of these failings he went on to describe, stating that, "it is the dedicated ambition of every battery to commit suicide as soon as possible." To Dr Daniels, watches had historic, intellectual, technical, aesthetic, useful and amusing qualities and with this in mind there is perhaps no watch that embodies his mantra quite as well as the present lot.

Of all the watches made by George Daniels, the Millennium wristwatch collection are some of the most iconic and immediately recognisable, carrying the co-axial escapement, arguably Daniel’s most important contribution to watchmaking. With less than 50 produced the extreme scarcity and incredible workmanship of this watch places it in an extremely small camp of historic watchmaking, to which some of the most revered contemporary watchmakers aspire and pay homage, most notably Roger Smith and F.P. Journe.

Instantly recognisable, it is fair to say that Daniels, in his creation of his Millennium wristwatch, produced a 20th Century horological icon. The dial is a perfect combination of form and function in the quintessential Daniels style, clearly influenced by the aesthetic of his pocket watches. Of course, as with any of his work, the beauty of this watch continues beneath the dial, as Roger Smith describes -

"... [the Millennium] houses some of the first co-axial movements off the Omega production line and is the culmination of a lifetime's work by George to convince a reluctant Swiss watch industry that his escapement was the future for mechanical timekeeping."

The co-axial escapement, which was initially devised by Daniels in the mid 1970s, was an attempt by him to improve the longevity of the mechanical watch movement. This was achieved by creating a mechanism that ran virtually without sliding friction so that, unlike the lever escapement, the rate remained constant, regardless of the viscosity of a lubricant. The Millennium as a collection can be described as a celebration of the industrialisation of Daniels new escapement by the watchmaking mammoth Omega.

The present watch was made in 1999 and is one of only 47 yellow gold examples ever produced and is being offered by the vendor who was heavily involved in the world of Historic racing and who had a friendship with Daniels himself. Although the consignors are not the original owners, the watch comes accompanied by a Christmas card from Daniels, citing that he was pleased to learn that they had become the new owners of the A.J.H Millennium piece.

This lot presents an exciting opportunity to add an important example of British watchmaking with fantastic provenance to any contemporary or vintage collection.