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Moving from watch repairer to watchmaker


Actively repairing watches while in the army
George Daniels Master watchmaker
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I was no great solider and not interested in soldiering, didn't want to remain in the army. I enjoyed it very much but I knew that I wanted to be a watchmaker... well, a watch repairer, so I wasn't interested in staying in the army and I had, in fact, during the last two years in the army, been very active repairing watches. I had my own workbench in my living quarters. As the company clerk, I could pretty well do as I liked, and so I organised my life around that and I did typewriters for the whole of the brigade and cameras and watches, and I made a lot of money and didn't draw any salary for two years, didn't need to. And, of course, that was all very useful money. I was saving that money specially to start on watches when I got back to England. On my leave, I went back to England and I bought books and equipment that I wanted and so that gave me more flexibility when I got back to Israel.

We lost one or two people through carelessness really. They were shot, by carelessness really and if one took adequate precautions, it could be avoided.

George Daniels, CBE, DSc, FBHI, FSA (19 August 1926 - 21 October 2011) was an English watchmaker most famous for creating the co-axial escapement. Daniels was one of the few modern watchmakers who could create a complete watch by hand, including the case and dial. He was a former Master of the Clockmakers' Company of London and had been awarded their Gold Medal, a rare honour, as well as the Gold Medal of the British Horological Institute, the Gold Medal of the City of London and the Kullberg Medal of the Stockholm Watchmakers’ Guild.

Listeners: Roger Smith

Roger Smith was born in 1970 in Bolton, Lancashire. He began training as a watchmaker at the age of 16 at the Manchester School of Horology and in 1989 won the British Horological Institute Bronze Medal. His first hand made watch, made between 1991 and 1998, was inspired by George Daniels' book "Watchmaking" and was created while Smith was working as a self-employed watch repairer and maker. His second was made after he had shown Dr Daniels the first, and in 1998 Daniels invited him to work with him on the creation of the 'Millennium Watches', a series of hand made wrist watches using the Daniels co-axial escapement produced by Omega. Roger Smith now lives and works on the Isle of Man, and is considered the finest watchmaker of his generation.

Tags: British Army

Duration: 1 minute, 27 seconds

Date story recorded: May 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008