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Important travelling lessons
George Daniels Master watchmaker
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In Switzerland, I had an un-enjoyable experience when I checked into a hotel and I was handed a card, which offered me a free drink at the bar. And so, when I was ready I came down and I went into the bar and I presented my card and I got a drink and the manager was there and we talked and he introduced me to his barmaid, which was blonde and Swedish. When we'd finished our drinks, it was obviously up to me to return the compliment, so I asked him what he would have and he said he'd have a scotch and would I excuse him while he made a phone call and he went to make a phone call and I then asked the Swedish barmaid what she would drink, feeling I should invite her to take a drink and she said she would have champagne and I was furious because that was expensive and I'd only had a weak scotch. So when the manager came back I said I must go and I paid the bill and he presented me with a bill for about a hundred Swiss francs, it was quite a lot of money, and I asked him what it was and he explained to me that there were some lessons in life we had to learn at some time or other and one was you know that Swedish barmaids do like champagne and if they want one you have to open a whole bottle. So I thanked him very much for the lesson and asked if he'd give me a receipt for the hundred francs so that I could present it to my company and have it included in my expenses. He was very willing to do that. And so I phoned a friend and we had a wonderful dinner and after dinner I waited to see whether there were no waiters about and I left and I went up to my room and I came down the next morning and they presented me with a bill for hotel and dinner and I refused to pay for the dinner and I said I've already paid for it and here's my receipt. And he realised there was something fishy about this but he didn't quite know what to do, and I said look, I'm in a hurry to go and if you don't tend to this matter now, then I shall go to the tourist board and ask them to come and referee. So he very reluctantly took the money for the room and I left without paying for the dinner, and when I got home I wrote to the manager and thanked him for his lesson and hoped that he found mine was a quid pro quo and enjoyable for him. Yes, it was a very difficult situation really, but I knew if I didn't get that receipt I had nothing. I didn't know what I was going to do when I got the receipt, but at least I had something and I could decide what to do. So those were the hassles of travelling.

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

Duration: 3 minutes, 18 seconds

Date story recorded: May 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008