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Copying and beating Breguet

RELATED STORIES

Selling and rebuying the first watch
George Daniels Master watchmaker
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I was then ready to finish off my watch, make the dial and the hands and so forth. Now, there was then the question of what was I going to do with the watch. I needed to sell it and I was a bit nervous about that because I didn't know how I was going to find a customer for it. A lot of people knew I was making it because I'd made sure they did know, in case they were interested, and in the end, my friend Cecil Clutton, the expert on all these different subjects, bought the watch. He said he was very, very apprehensive about the whole thing because he feared he wouldn't be able to afford it, but in the end he did and he paid £1,900 for this watch. I was very happy to have the money because it kept me going for another year or so. It was quite a lot of money in those days, and that watch was a very good friend to me during the following years because after 4 years, I bought it back from him and I gave him £8,000 for it and I made him another watch, which meant that he couldn't hang onto my £8,000 very long. He had to pay it back to me and I sold the watch for £12,000 and I bought it back for £14,000 and sold it for £18,000. Then I bought it back for £20,000 and sold it for £24,000. So it did me very well and all those people that owned the first watch I'd made, and they were very pleased about that. It's in America now and was owned by the famous Professor Landes, professor of commerce and social - I don't know, we'll have to find out what he called his book. He's Jewish, powerful, arrogant, continent, verbose, and has all the qualities you'd expect to find in a professor. And he wrote about my escapement in his book, The Unbound Prometheus, he writes about the escapement in that book, which I'm very pleased because he's a very famous international author, and I discovered afterwards he was quite pleased for it to be known that he knew something about watches. So that was beneficial on both sides. Unfortunately, he had to sell the watches. His wife became very ill and so he needed money. He wrote me a very nice letter and he said it was a tragedy, but he had to sell the watch and I wrote and told him that it didn't matter, that's what we bought these things for, you know, they're an investment which you use in the future when you need it.

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: USA, The Wealth and Poverty of Nations, The Unbound Prometheus, Cecil Clutton, David Landes

Duration: 3 minutes, 23 seconds

Date story recorded: May 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008