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First experiences with watches


My early artistic talents
George Daniels Master watchmaker
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When I reached the age of five, I was due to go to school, which I did at the local school, of which I have very fond memories. And there I met Miss Crawford, who was the headmistress and we got on very well together and it was discovered that I had a talent for drawing and painting. And this gave me a very easy passage through my primary school, because pictures are wanted desperately in primary schools. I think most of their work is done with pictures and I could paint these pictures. And I had been an assiduous reader. My sister was two years older than me and she had learnt to read, and so I learnt to read from her, simply by looking at the picture and she would say what it represented and I just had to remember what it was. And so I had that advantage also that I could not only draw and paint, but I could read. So I was a star pupil and got on very well at school.

Unfortunately, we moved from that location and so, of course, I had to go to another school where even so there again I shone with drawings and paintings and so forth, and it was a tremendous asset to me because I wasn't any good at anything else. I mean geography and history and mathematics meant nothing to me. I couldn't understand and didn't want to know about them. But I could write, I could write an essay, with atrocious spelling, but however, the essays and the writing... sorry, the essays and the drawings and the paintings got me through my early schooldays.

And after that, I changed schools several times. They were all very undistinguished schools and I didn't do anything to make them distinguished. Again, I could draw and paint, which was beneficial, and I had to do quite advanced stuff, and I learnt the art of perspective drawing and that was very useful and it earned much praise so that I wasn't too often chastised about the things I couldn't do.

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.

Duration: 2 minutes, 9 seconds

Date story recorded: May 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008