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The Tompion Gold Medal

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The double wheel escapement; the tick and the tock
George Daniels Master watchmaker
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This particular watch that I made for Sam had this curious double wheel escapement, which I devised as a simple means of achieving the end I wanted. You have to remember that watches have a mechanical oscillator in them and you can hear this oscillator, tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock, but those watches don't keep such good time as earlier kinds of watches invented by John Arnold, which don't tick-tock, they only tick, quiet tick, quiet tick, quiet, but because they only tick on one vibration of the oscillation, then if you suddenly move the watch while it's on the dead vibration, it could stop and it won't start again, whereas a tick-tock watch can be made to start again and it won't have the dead vibration. So I wanted to produce a watch that would have all the qualities of the tick watch, but would at the same time go tick-tock. So I had to have two watches in one box, tick on one watch and tock on the other watch, but by that simple means I got this watch to keep time.

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: Cecil Clutton, John Arnold

Duration: 1 minute, 21 seconds

Date story recorded: May 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008