Continuing the legacy
“My final collaboration with my great mentor Dr. George Daniels began in 2008. A series limited to 35 pieces numbered appropriately to commemorate the 35th Anniversary of George’s invention of the co-axial escapement.
The Anniversary is a manually wound wristwatch with power reserve indicator, calendar mechanism and seconds dial in a style reminiscent of the famous tourbillon chronograph pocket watch created by George in 1994.”
Featuring – hours, minutes, seconds, date and Up Down indicator
My quest and eventual acceptance by Dr. George Daniels to become his apprentice and colleague has been well documented but, in most respects, I think the Anniversary watch was my real ‘coming of age’ in George’s own eyes. With this series, he was entrusting me to realise his last word in watch making.
In the great man’s own words*…
“My goal has always been to make watches which provide historical, technical, intellectual, aesthetic, amusing and useful qualities. This wrist watch is a culmination of over 40 years of watchmaking and unashamedly takes inspiration from several pieces in my body of work. The 18 carat gold case houses a completely new and original Daniels calibre which is fitted with a calendar and power reserve complication and, along with the minute, hour and seconds, provides all the information that a fine watch should”.
The Anniversary watch also includes my first significant improvement to George’s original Co-axial escapement design. Essentially, I had been working on a design where we could combine the upper and lower wheels into one by adding raised ‘teeth’ onto the lower wheel. This would result in the escape wheel being made in one single operation and removing a potential source of error.
George would go on to comment*:
“This development, conceived by Roger Smith, guarantees both radial and concentric orientation of the two sets of teeth and their pivot point and I see it as a natural and useful development of my escapement”.
Although the Anniversary watches were to be designed by me, the aesthetics were overseen by George, with every stage approved by him. We took particular time to reflect on what the essence of English style could be, as perceived by Daniels and Smith working together. We agreed on frosted plates contrasted with hand engraved silver dials, blued screws and, typical of George’s own style, a wealth of intricate detail would be shrouded beneath the functional simplicity of the design.
In August 2011, on the eve of our launch at Salon QP, I had the great honour of being awarded the Barrett Silver Medal of the British Horological Institute for ‘Dedication to, and successfully continuing, the finest traditions of English watchmaking’.
It felt like the culmination of my quest to become the watchmaker, especially when George approved the final design of the Anniversary. In fact, as I look back on that autumn, it was a very bittersweet period of my career. George would pass away just a few weeks later, in October 2011.
Today, we have just a few final Daniels Anniversary watches to make and they will be the very last words of the final chapter of this great watchmaker’s story.
And for me, there can be no higher honour than to realise them.
Nobody understood the importance of legacy more than Dr George Daniels and, before his death, he made clear plans to ensure that his work and methods would continue, which included his bequeathing the entire contents of the Daniels studio to me.
It was George’s wish that this important collection of horological work benches, tools and equipment be preserved and used by us in the maintenance of all existing Daniels watches and in continuation of Daniels London, as well, of course, in the making of our own RW Smith watches according to the Daniels Method.
After a year long project to meticulously photograph, catalogue and integrate the collection into our studio, the project was finally completed when we moved his Hauser P325 Optical Jig Boring machine (Nr. 82) into place.
Today it means that all existing Daniels London pieces are serviced or repaired on the very benches on which they were created and with the same tools. It also ensures the provenance of our final pieces carrying the Daniels London name.
*extracts from the booklet of notes accompanying the Daniels’ Anniversary watch.