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The majority of modern watches lack elegance


Mechanics and the elegance of mechanical things
George Daniels Master watchmaker
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My interest in mechanics is concerned... it started so early in my life that I was able early on to make comparisons in quality of workmanship and design and style and it... I think it's obvious that mechanics came quite naturally to me. I didn't have to learn about them, I could just sense immediately what was required. I never had any difficulty in learning about mechanical things. I mean a quick glance at a mechanical device and I could go away and make the whole thing from first principles. So that was very lucky for me and enormously helpful and through long association with mechanics, you know, one learns to appreciate the elegance of mechanical things, especially if you study the horology of the 18th and 19th centuries. All the components are very elegant and graceful and obviously made by artists... people who had a feeling for the natural progression of development. This makes them very elegant to look at. Today we find watches almost always have a crystal back, so you can see the mechanism, but unfortunately the mechanisms are not very well finished, so it seems a pity that the most beautiful mechanisms are contained within closed backs on old watches.

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.

Duration: 1 minute, 47 seconds

Date story recorded: May 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008