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Writing Watchmaking

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Writing The Practical Watch Escapement
George Daniels Master watchmaker
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Then I discovered at Basel, the Fair, that not many people knew how escapements worked, and for example I had a coaxial escapement model, it was quite a big model, and a chap came up to me and asked me what was the difference between that and the lever escapement. Well, how do you convince these people, and so I tried to explain to him, but I really wasn't interested in explaining to him. I don't believe- if he didn't know it wasn't my place to teach him, he could go and find out first and then come back. But it did occur to me that it would be much better if more people knew how it worked and then they'd see some sense in it and maybe it was that many of the Swiss people didn't believe in it because they didn't know how it worked and they hadn't realised its advantages. I've already explained the advantages, haven't I, about the impulse and all that sort of thing. And so I went home and wrote The Practical Watch Escapement. It's called The Practical Watch Escapement because it includes all those escapements that have been used for practical purposes in watches. Watches haven't always had the best escapement. Sometimes they've had an inferior escapement for very practical reasons, like money for example. You know, you've got to sell a watch, its got an expensive lever escapement you're limited to the number of customers. So, it was a book about practical escapements and it gave a complete analysis of the function of all the escapements so that with that book you can choose any escapement you like and make the whole thing and test it against all the drawings and the figures in the book. And so that book proved to be very useful and it's in its second edition now, and there may be a third edition on that. It gives a full explanation of the coaxial escapement.

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: Basel, Switzerland, Baselworld, The Practical Watch Escapement

Duration: 2 minutes, 8 seconds

Date story recorded: May 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008