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Mechanics and the elegance of mechanical things


The appeal of mechanical watches
George Daniels Master watchmaker
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Why do people like mechanical watches? Well I suppose it is that even though their watch is not specially handmade for them, it contains all the same components in principle to a really complex handmade collector's piece and purchasers of these modern easily available watches see them quite simply as wristwatch examples of the very things that the collector is looking for. They love to see a case full of gear wheels and a balance oscillating and many, many watches now have crystal backs so that the works can be seen. People like to see the works going round and... well all that's good for the mechanical watch industry, which itself is a far better base for expansion of the watch industry in the present financial climate where more and more people can afford more expensive watches. And you can only put the price up on a quartz watch when you can make a mechanical watch more expensive by adding various devices to it and so forth.

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: mechanical watch

Duration: 1 minute, 19 seconds

Date story recorded: May 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008