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The business of watches

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The making of components for a Daniels watch
George Daniels Master watchmaker
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Of course, all the components in the watch had to be made from the raw material and having produced a component by whatever means, partly done on the lathe, partly done with other small machines or the hand turns of filing or sawing, all of those components had to be cut out and then brought to the final shape, checked to make sure that they worked comfortably with each other and then hardened and tempered, which means making the steel components red hot and plunging them into oil to harden them. And this of course leaves them black from oxidation and they all had to be polished and cleaned all over again. And there is countless hours of work in attending to small details, making the screws and the springs and even the jewels for the escapement all have to be cut to suit the watch in hand.

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: Daniels watch, components, escapement, workshop, screws, springs, jewels, watch, horologist, horology

Duration: 1 minute, 5 seconds

Date story recorded: May 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008