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DANIELS, George (1926-2011)

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 LMA/4636
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Full title: DANIELS, George (1926-2011)
Date(s): 1951-2013
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 7.6 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Daniels | George | 1926-2011 | horologist


Administrative/Biographical history:

During his lifetime George Daniels was considered by many the best horologist in the world and was famous for creating the co-axial escapement, used by Omega in their highest-grade watches since 1999, and described as the most important horological development for 250 years since the invention of the lever escapement by Thomas Mudge in 1754.

George Daniels was born in Edgware in 1926. He recalled being fascinated by watches as a child. Finding a cheap wristwatch in the street at the age of 5, he later wrote: 'I managed to get it open and I was intrigued with the workings - it was like seeing the centre of the universe. I knew that's what I wanted to do; I wanted to spend the rest of my time with watches.'

After serving in the Second World War, Daniels studied horology at night classes and began work restoring and repairing watches, eventually setting up his own business.

He was one of the few modern watchmakers who could create a complete watch by hand, including the case and dial. George Daniels introduced 'William' to his name which was used for the first chronometer inscribed 'G W Daniels' in 1954. In 1964 he married Juliet Ann Marryat at Christ Church Esher, daughter of Robert Marryat, collector. They went on to have one daughter, Sarah.

He produced his first watch in 1969 and during his lifetime Daniels' total hand-made production consisted of 24 pocket watches, 4 wrist watches, 56 millennium wrist watches, 1 chronometer, 2 Breguet three wheel clocks, and 5 Grasshopper conversions to long case regulators.

In 2006, to celebrate his achievements and his 80th birthday, Sotheby's and Bobinet Limited (the antique watch dealer) held a retrospective exhibition of his work.

Daniels served as Master of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers in 1980 and was awarded their Tompion Gold Medal 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. He was also awarded Hon Degree of Doctor of Science from City University, London in 1994. He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2010 New Year Honours List.

Daniels wrote a number of seminal works on watchmaking. An expert on the French watchmaker Breguet, he spent many years concentrating on the repair and restoration of his watches, and published 'The Art of Breguet' in 1975. His other books include 'Watches', Cecil Clutton and George Daniels (1965); 'English and American Watches' (1967); 'Clocks & Watches in the Collection of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers', Cecil Clutton and George Daniels (1975); 'Watchmaking' (1981); 'The Practical Watch Escapement' (1994); and an autobiography, 'All in Good Time - Reflections of a Watchmaker' (2000).

Daniels lived and worked at 21 Thornsett Road, Bromley, London and later at Riversdale, Jurby Road, Lezayre, Ramsey, Isle of Man. Both residences were fitted with a workshop.

On his death on 21 October 2011 George Daniels left instructions to establish a charity to be known as The George Daniels Educational Trust, with the object to further the education of pupils studying horology, engineering, medicine or building construction. In November 2012 The George Daniels Horological Collection was auctioned at Sotheby's.

For further information on Daniels' life see 'George Daniels. A Master Watchmaker and His Art. The story of the man who invented the co-axial escapement', Michael Clerizo (London : Thames and Hudson, 2013)


Scope and content/abstract:

The archive of George Daniels documents his major contribution to horology and include his working papers and drawings, research notes and images for his published books, correspondence photographs and audio-visual material. The records are invaluable to researchers interested in Daniels' own work but also in historical watch and clock makers and tracing of watches, chronometers and clocks.

The earliest document is a volume of Daniels' lecture notes (LMA/4636/A/01/01/001) taken whilst studying at Evening courses at Northampton Polytechnic, St John Street, Islington in 1951-1952 (now City University London). In addition the archive contains: correspondence files, horological exhibition catalogues and papers (series reference LMA/4636/A/04); manuscript and printed technical drawings, calculations and sketches showing the development of the co-axial escapement with Omega and ETA of Switzerland with related patents (series references LMA/4636/A/03 and 04); photographs of Daniels' own watches (series reference LMA/4636/A/05); and Daniels' ledgers containing notes, diagrams and costings on his restoration work, historical watches and his own watches (series reference LMA/4636/A/08).

There are also Daniels' author files with draft manuscripts and research notes for his published books on watch and clockmaking, with photographs of watches used as images and copy business records of Breguet of Paris, France (series reference LMA/4636/B/01); photographs of historical watches and clocks (series references LMA/4636/B/03 and 04), events and studio portraits of Daniels (LMA/4636/D/03); his papers, photographs and video relating to Worshipful Company of Clockmakers (series reference LMA/4636/C); certificates awarded to Daniels (series reference LMA/4636/D/01); collected articles on his life's works and achievements series reference LMA/4636/D/02).

There are also films and video cassettes (series references LMA/4636/D/04 and 05) including talks given by Daniels with his feature in 'Aquarius' produced by London Weekend Television (1976). The archive also includes records of George Daniels Educational Trust (LMA/4636/E), namely Chairman's files on sales and bequests of Daniels' horological collection.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:
Some French and German and small amounts of Chinese, Japanese, Swedish, Polish, Finnish, Spanish.

System of arrangement:

The records are arranged as follows:

Conditions governing access:

These records are available for public inspection, although records containing personal information are subject to access restrictions under the UK Data Protection Act, 1998.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright is held by the Depositor.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Deposited in March 2012 with additional deposits in 2013 and 2015.

Allied Materials

Related material:

See also archives of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers (CLC/L/CD).

George Daniels' horological library is deposited at Guildhall Library.

The Worshipful Company of Clockmakers were bequeathed horological artefacts which have been held in the Clockmakers' Museum at Guildhall and will be transferred to the Science Museum in Summer 2015.

Daniels' Bentley Car memorabilia including photographs, correspondence and engineering drawings were donated to The W O Bentley Memorial Foundation, Wroxton, Oxfordshire in 2012.

Vintage Sports Car Club holds photographs, videos, DVDs of vintage cars and motoring events.

Roger Smith was bequeathed the contents of the Daniels workshop, Isle of Man, together with the experimental watch movements for co-axial escapements.

Personal papers were retained by the Daniels Family and David Newman, Chairman of George Daniels Educational Trust.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Added November 2014

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