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The elegance of the pocket watch


The principle of the lever
George Daniels Master watchmaker
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Yes, well of course all mechanics are based on the principle of the lever, which is the fundamental unit in mechanics and the lever is quite simply a means of altering the power available in the component. If you want to drive... if you have a wheel driving a component and you want to speed up the rotation of the component, then you make it smaller, which is exactly the same thing as making the driving wheel bigger. The end result is that you always divide the long end of the lever by the short end of the lever, and that gives you the lever ratio, and all mechanics are based on that lever ratio. It's not always obvious to see it, but it's there in the mechanism. Even the wheel is based on the lever, and in fact the bit of the wheel that's on the ground doesn't move, it's the rest of the wheel that's moving. You could only be sure if you took the rim off and rode on the spokes and each spoke would be stationary till it was lifted off the ground by the following spoke, and the lever ratio is the distance between the hub and the ground and the hub of the top of the wheel gives you the ratio, which is 50/50... 1:1.

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, 35 seconds

Date story recorded: May 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008