George Daniels’ masterpieces at Sotheby’s London this month
In its Fine Timepieces auction that will be held in London on 19 September 2017, Sotheby’s will be presenting 119 lots including four masterpieces created by George Daniels, one of the the greatest watchmakers of the late 20th and early 21st century.
Among them the legendary Space Travellers’ watch, a 63 mm yellow gold chronograph watch created in 1982. This stunning timepiece with Daniels’ independent double-wheel escapement, solar and sidereal time indication, age and phase of the moon and equation of time was part of his personal collection and often worn by the master of horology.
The estimate for this extraordinary and truly unique lot 121 is British Pounds 1,200,000 - 1,800,000 or approximately Euro 1,350,000 - 2,020,000.
Below is an extract from Sotheby’s presentation.
“In 1974 George Daniels invented the independent double-wheel escapement; the movement was to captivate collectors with its visual appeal of symmetrical trains.
George Daniels was on a trip to Zurich where he met an important collector for dinner. The collector nudged him and said ‘what do you have in your pocket’, so he took out his watch, a gold Daniels pocket watch with independent double-wheel escapement. The collector said he had to have the watch and asked him to sell it to him. Daniels said it was not for sale but the collector persisted. Thinking this was an enormous compliment as the collector had not even asked the price, Daniels sold him the watch. Immediately regretting his decision, Daniels decided to make another watch which would be an improvement on the first both in terms of complication and accuracy. Having not fully exploited the first watch, the second watch would have separate calculations for each train, it was therefore possible to indicate both mean-solar and sidereal time.
In the 18th century, to check the accuracy of your watch, you had to have a precision clock which was set by a star. This watch, by means of having solar and sidereal time, could make the calculation for you, the difference being 3.555 minutes per day.
To try and improve the calculation of the train which allowed for an error of 0.8 seconds per year, George Daniels contacted a friend at Cambridge University to ask if they knew of a mathematician interested in watches. He received a response almost immediately and extraordinarily enough the mathematicians name was Professor Daniels. The professor was able to calculate a better ratio of 0.28 seconds per day, which George Daniels was very happy with.
George Daniels used to say to people, ‘when you are on your package tour to Mars you need a watch like this, and when using the telephone for long distance calls you could switch the chronograph into sidereal time to cut your bills by 3.555 minutes per day’.
Originally the watch had been referred to as the Daniels squared (2) because of the assistance he received from Professor Henry Daniels, but George Daniels did not think this was good enough, so re-named it the ‘Space Travellers'’ watch in honour of the American landing on the moon which was the greatest space exploratory journey of the century.
George Daniels made two Space Travellers' watches. The first, originally sold by Bobinet in 1982, was subsequently sold at Sotheby’s Geneva to a private collector, on 17th November 1988. The present watch, the Second Space Traveller, is the most complex of the two watches, having the addition of the chronograph function. Viewing the two movements side by side, one is immediately struck by the added complexity of the chronograph work visible to the backplate of the Space Traveller II.
The central bridge work on the Traveller II is noticeably slimmer than Traveller I, this is in order to incorporate II's chronograph work. It is also interesting to note that the case back of the Space Traveller II is fully glazed. This piece was Daniels' dress watch of choice, especially at events.”
The sale also includes a wide selection of vintage and modern pieces by leading manufacturers such as Patek Philippe, Rolex, A. Lange & Söhne and Cartier to name but a few.
Fine Timepieces including George Daniels Masterpieces
19 September 2017, 10:30am BST, London