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My enjoyable lunch with the Queen


Why I started the George Daniels Educational Trust
George Daniels Master watchmaker
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So then I was virtually finished with the Clockmakers' Company, except I turned up at all meetings and I never had very much to say. It seemed to me that they never actually did what they said they were going to do any more than the BHI does what it said it's going to do, so there was little point in commenting on it. And then after a while I decided I'd had enough of it and I passed it over to a friend, who had then just come on to the court and he took over the scheme. He's never had any apprentices you see, he hasn't got any money, but I think we might find him some now. But on my... for my part in education, after I'd resigned from this horological industries committee, I got to thinking about some correspondence I read in the Horological Journal, which... to the effect that Rolex Company were no longer going to allow watchmakers to buy materials because they didn't trust the watchmakers who did bad work and Rolex got a bad reputation. I'm sure there's a lot of truth in that, but it seemed to me that depriving them of spare parts wasn't really the way to go about it. The British Horological Institute took it up with the Minister of Trade, which of course couldn't possibly do any good because the industry is so small, and how could we prove that we weren't wrecking the watches? So that didn't work, and I decided that if these watchmakers weren't good enough, we'd better train them to be good enough and that would solve the problem. And so I started my Horological Industries Educational Trust and I raised the money from the Burton family. Burton, the tailors of taste who sold suits for 50 shillings for years, and I knew the Burtons quite well, and Stanley Burton, who was a liveryman of the Clockmakers, had died a couple of years earlier. And so Audrey said, you know Stanley would have wanted to be associated with any plans you had for education. And so I said I've got one and I'm going to need £10,000 a year for five years. So she paid up the money and we got cracking on it and so far we've done very well. We have our own certificate and we have issued 29 certificates out of 90 class members. So we're not giving the certificates away ad lib, they've got to work for them, they've got to get it right. We've got a very, very good instructor and so far it's been very successful and all the students enjoy it and their work is better and I'm hoping now to see if this argument arises again with Rolex... and now other companies have started, jumped on the bandwagon... but if the argument arises again, I've got this group of men whom I can take and show them they know exactly what to do. In fact, they know more what to do than the Rolex technicians do because my students have done it; the Rolex technicians only talk about it. They go by the handbook, but we've done the work. So, it should be a stop gap against further erosion of their desire for components, we can only wait and see. But at least we're prepared.

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: The Worshipful Company of Clockmakers, British Horological Institute, Rolex SA, Horological Journal, George Daniels Educational Trust, Burton, Stanley Burton

Duration: 3 minutes, 42 seconds

Date story recorded: May 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008