I’ve never been an avid poster on the various watch fora, but having met George Daniels one night in the local pub of all places I was quite excited; I originally posted the following (quite twee!) report on August 5th 2001 on the old Timezone:
“Quite by chance on Saturday evening I was lucky enough to be introduced to none other than George Daniels of co-axial escapement fame. Mr Daniels was in Gloucestershire (UK) attending a large classic car rally. A friend of mine is a specialist in restoration of vintage Vauxhalls and it just so happens that Mr Daniels owns one such vehicle and had been intoduced to my friend earlier in the day.
Unfortunately, my introduction to Mr Daniels took place after I had consumed a few pints of Old Speckled Hen, a somewhat potent English Real Ale; thus, I was trying deperately to put together an impromptu interview with pertinent questions whilst fighting the effects of my favourite tipple. I’m afraid I failed; however, we chatted for five minutes or so which for me, was an interesting experience.
Mr Daniels was very congenial and the first thing I did was congratulate him on the commercial implementation of the co-axial escapement. I think that he was a little surprised that someone in the middle of a relatively obscure bar would know who he was and the contribution he had made to horology. However, he thanked me and removed his wristwatch (about 35mm in diameter) so I could have a look. Now, I dont know his work particularly well, suffice to say that he told me this particular watch was a limited run of 50 units (sold out!) featuring his escapement. The dial layout featured a sub-dial at 6 with a date pointer. From what I can remember, the main dial itself was beautifully silvered and signed either side of the date dial with his name (not signed Omega by the way). The timekeeping hands were gold, the hour hand featuring a small slightly rounded triangle at its tip.
On turning the watch over there was a sight truly to behold, a beautifully decorated automatic movement under the display back. At first I couldnt work out which ebauche had been used but Mr Daniels informed me that it was indeed an Omega unit and that (perhaps obviously) he still works closely with Omega.
For me, the most refreshing part of my meeting (apart from the beer of course) was the statement by Mr Daniels that is fully aware that the mechanical watch in this day and age is an object of romanticism (his words). He felt that the quartz wristwatch is extremely practical given the fact that the movements can be made for pence. At no point did he suggest that we should all be wearing mechanical watches of any type and stressed the romantic nature of the mechanical watchs phoenix-like rise to popularity over the last decade or so. Wearing a mechanical watch, he said, gives that feeling of visiting a more romantic era when I asked him why he thought mechanical watches had become so popular again.
I mentioned that from a personal point of view I disagree with much of the marketing activities of the watch industry and in answer to this, he said that he doesnt really take an interest in the commercial side of things. I got the distinct impression that his goal was simply to make a difference, to bring something new to the mechanical watch world. Indeed, he said that the watch industry needed something new and that his escapement was the first such innovation (which could be incorporated into non-complicated watches) in a very long time. He was undoubtedly proud of what he has achieved but modest about it at the same time.
I told Mr Daniels that I had read some criticism of the use of his escapement on an existing movement. In reply he stated simply that it costs too much to develop a movement from scratch and that he was quite happy with the way things were going at this point. As mentioned previously, I dont know his work very well, but I mentioned to Mr Daniels that I had been told he produces very few watches one a year was his reply and he said it has been three years since he made his last. He said that at this point in time he is enjoying his interest in vintage cars.
Before I returned to my warm beer and let Mr Daniels finish his sherry I couldnt resist but to ask him for his autograph for my little boy, who for some reason on Saturday night had the same name as myself 😉 All in all, an interesting few minutes and Mr Daniels gave me full permission to talk of our meeting here on TZ.”