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NEXT STORY

Making the Millennium watches with Roger Smith

RELATED STORIES

Patek Phillipe produce a poor replica of the co-axial escapement
George Daniels Master watchmaker
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So, the millennium watches were finished and sold, and all very satisfactory at the end of a very good project, which did a good deal to publicise the coaxial escapement and satisfy all those people who wanted a Daniels watch but would never get one while I was only making one each year. And that's in stark contrast to my experience in Switzerland, where Patek Phillipe were working to produce models of the examples of the escapement and they weren't succeeding and they weren't very pleased with me and it was quite obviously in their minds all my fault that it didn't go properly. And then I had a letter from the manufacturer, lever manufacturers in Switzerland, FAR, Fabrique des Assortement de Reunis and they included a copy of a test report on the escapement that Patek Phillipe had made and it didn't make very good reading. I mean obviously everything about the escapement was wrong and I was very cross about that and so I wrote them a letter and pointed out that this did not represent my work, it was not made by me, it was designed by me, but not made to my design. And the particular feature that they had pointed out was quite wrong in the escapement was one which I had had a big argument with - with Patek Phillipe, and I knew it was wrong and I knew it wouldn't run, but they decided not to listen to me. And that - I was very cross about this report and if a single word of it leaked out into the public, then I would have them in a Swiss court of law and would have exposed the whole farce, as it had gone on for those four years. And so they then wrote me a letter, which I still have, to say that they had every admiration for my work, they accepted all I said, they were going to pin my letter to their letter in their files so the two could never be separated. So that all ended quite well in that - insofar any way as my honour was satisfied, even if the makers of the movement weren't very satisfied.

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: Switzerland, Patek Phillipe, FAR, Fabrique des Assortement de Reunis

Duration: 2 minutes, 44 seconds

Date story recorded: May 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008