An exceptional collection of watches and clocks belonging to the great British watchmaker and inventor George Daniels (1926 2011) will be sold at Sothebys
in London on 6th November. George Danielss life story is an extraordinary rags to riches tale that begins in poverty and neglect, and ends under the worlds spotlight. He became the greatest British horologist of the 20th century, an important collector and innovator, who was welcomed into the families of the celebrated European watchmaking dynasties. Sothebys sale of his personal collection comprising timepieces he made himself as well as fine examples of antiques watches and clocks- is a major auction event. With estimates ranging from £200 to £900,000, the majority of the 137 lots have never before been offered on the open market.
Indeed, George Daniels only ever sold his watches to those people he liked for he only created 27 watches over a forty year period, carefully making each of these by hand. He was one of only a few people able to handcraft an entire watch, including the screws, which can take some 3000 hours. The sale will include nine prized timepieces handmade by Daniels himself, and all of the proceeds will go to benefit the George Daniels Educational Trust.*
At the age of five, George Daniels found a broken watch in his family home. When he opened up the back of the watch to reveal the complex mechanism beneath, a new universe was opened up to him, which he said transformed his life. The expertise and formidable success he later achieved in creating, piece by piece, watches which rival those produced by the greatest makers in history, enabled him to acquire exemplary timepieces made by his illustrious forbearers. The auction will comprise over 100 antique clocks and watches, showcasing over 400 years of master craftsmanship.
Among connoisseurs, he is perhaps best known for rejuvenating the market for the mechanical wristwatch and for inventing the Co-Axial escapement the first new watch mechanism created since 1754. His expertise earned him the respect and friendship of the leading figures in watchmaking today and inspired and influenced a generation.
Geoffroy Ader, European Head of Watches It is a huge honour to present George Daniels' personal collection featuring watches and clocks of key periods of horology history. George Daniels was a Master watchmaker and this single owner sale is a unique opportunity to celebrate his extraordinary contribution to watchmaking. We look forward to sharing our enthusiasm with many collectors around the world.
Jonathan Hills, Director, Sothebys Clock & Barometer Department George was a consultant at Sothebys for over 40 years during which time I was lucky enough to observe his fascinating and meticulous mind at work. It is wonderful to have been entrusted with selling the collection of a dear friend and colleague, and to have been given access to the fabulous clock collection that formed part of his extraordinary world.
Jo Lewis, Head of Sothebys London Watch Department Watches made by George Daniels rarely come on to the auction market, and to have nine of his handcrafted timepieces in one sale is unheard of. This is an exceptional opportunity for people who love watches to acquire unique pieces which are unlikely to return to the market anytime soon.
The George Daniels Collection of Antique Watches and Clocks Highlights
A small silver-mounted ebony roman striking table clock, London, dated 1677. ESTIMATE £600,000900,000*
Born in 1640, Joseph Knibb was the most famous and inventive member of the celebrated Knibb watchmaking family. This roman-striking clock, with its velvet dial and silver mounts is extremely rare. It will be sold with a type-written statement from a previous owner detailing that this clock was given as a gift to his Great Grandfather, the surgeon Thomas Beckett by King George III.
An ebony month going roman striking longcase clock, London, circa 1685. ESTIMATE £200,000300,000
Standing at six foot seven inches tall, this ebony longcase clock is one of just a small group of similar clocks with Knibbs intriguing Roman striking system. Knibb made clocks for Windsor Castle and for Charles II. This particular clock was once the property of the 13th Earl of Erroll and was kept at Slains Castle in Scotland.
BENJAMIN HILL, LONDON
A silver and pique pre-balance spring verge astronomical watch, 1650. ESTIMATE: £15,00025,000
A mid-seventeenth century astronomical pocket-watch created in London by Benjamin Hill, former Master of the Clockmakers Company. The watch, made from silver and gilt, bears the days of the week, the hours of the day, days of the month, the waxing and waning of the moon and the signs of the planets.
An ebony quarter-repeating table clock, No. 287, London, circa 1697. ESTIMATE £150,000200,000
Thomas Tompion is the most highly respected of English clockmakers. Born in Bedfordshire in 1639, he moved to London and became a favourite of Charles II. This clock has an unusual form of quarter repeating and is finely crafted - the movement is engraved with cherubs, flowers, leaves and scrolls. The clock will be sold with a very rare contemporary oak travelling case.
Timepieces by George Daniels
GEORGE DANIELS THE GRAND COMPLICATION WATCH
An 18K yellow gold one-minute tourbillon with Daniels slim co-axial escapement, circa 1987. ESTIMATE £500,000800,000
A masterpiece of engineering. This watch was designed to showcase the skills of the watchmaker as an artist craftsman, and, as a result, is highly complex. The watch incorporates an impressive number of complications including a one-minute repeating tourbillion, equation of time, state of winding, thermometer, the phases of the moon and the perpetual calendar.
GEORGE DANIELS SPACE TRAVELLERS WATCH
An 18K yellow gold chronograph with Daniels independent double-wheel escapement, circa 1982. ESTIMATE £400,000600,000
The Space Travellers Watch was named in honour of the American landing on the moon in 1969. Most importantly, the watch shows both the mean solar and the sidereal timeaccording to Daniels, you may need a watch like this on your package tour to the moon.
GEORGE DANIELS, THE FIRST WRISTWATCH
An 18K yellow gold four-minute tourbillon wristwatch with Daniels slim co-axial escapement, circa 1991. ESTIMATE £150,000250,000
The first wristwatch George Daniels ever made. It was designed to demonstrate to the Swiss watch industry that his new experimental invention, the Co-Axial escapement, was suitable to be used in wristwatches. This was the first new watch mechanism anyone had created since 1754. Today, Daniels revolutionary escapement is used in all Omega wristwatches.
BREGUET ET FILS NO.3225
A replica weight-driven three wheel skeleton timepiece by George Daniels. ESTIMATE £60,00080,000
Daniels was appointed London agent to Breguet in 1967. Having much admired an original three wheel timepiece he sought permission to make a copy. This copy was so much admired that the piece was granted a Breguet certificate so that it would be a genuine Breguet. This lot, along with all the Breguet pieces in the sale, will be sold with its certificate.