Last November I was fortunate enugh to attend the 2019 George Daniels lecture, given by Roger Smith at London’s City University. A lecture featuring these two names is clearly a must for anyone with an interest in British watchmaking.
You might think I have been a little slow in posting this entry, which I probably am. The reason was I was looking for suitable material to post. I did not think anyone would be intested in reading my memories of what Roger presented. After intermittent searches I have come across this video, of the whole lecture. All you miss was the glass of wine afterwards.
The key point coming out of this lecture is that in Roger’s opinion reliability and hence longer term accuracy is better acheived using lower frequency movements as this minimises wear. His presentation makes this conclusion seem very logical, but does seem to be at odds with the companies marketing high frequency movements as being the way forward.
From my position of minimal technical knowledge Roger’s position does appear to to make sense. My only real doubt about what he had to say was about his apparant dis-interest in using modern materials to reduce friction and hence wear in watch movements. I am sure he has good reasons for his views which are beyond me.
Having attended one of these lectures I really hope there are more in the future I can get to. They do really help casual enthusiast like myself understand what is going on “under the hood”.
I have been meaning to post this piece for sometime. This is a discovery I made thanks to the Instagram postings of “The Watchnerd” ( #watchnerd).
Dial detail – Charles Frodsham wristwatch
A company that amazingly, after reading around the British watch world, I have never come across before; and as you can see from the image above they produce stunning watches.
Charles Frodsham & Co. are the longest continuously trading firm of chronometer manufacturers in the world, and are synonymous with precision timekeeping instruments of the highest quality; watches, clocks, regulators and wristwatches.
Charles was born into a dynasty of clock, watch and chronometer makers on the 15 April 1810. His father William James Frodsham (1779-1850) and Hannah Lambert had ten children, five of whom were apprenticed to their father and later became horologists in their own right.
Charles was educated at Christ’s Hospital, the Bluecoat School in Newgate, London, and as a condition of the Foundation, was apprenticed at the age of fourteen to his father William. He showed early promise submitting two chronometers (numbers 1 & 2) to the 1830 Premium Trials at Greenwich, No.2 gaining the second Premium prize of £170. A further nine chronometers were then entered for trial in subsequent years, until the termination of the Premium Trials, in 1836.
As at the moment I have no other source of information other than the companies website I suggest you go directly there www.frodsham.com . I am now really curious to discover more about these watches which even seem to impress the famous Roger Smith.
Just in case you missed this news, which I guess is unlikely, I wanted to mark this important landmark in history of British watchmaking.
George Daniels’ Space Travellers was recently sold at auction for £3.2m. a new record for a British watch.
Space Travellers – photo Sothebys
The BBC reported Sotheby’s Head of International Watch Division, Daryn Schnipper said: “The Space Travellers’ watch is no doubt one of Daniels’ finest timepieces and one can only be mesmerised by the beauty of its dial and the complexity and wonder of its movement.”
Sorry to advise you a little late but today at Sotheby’s one of George Daniels watches came up for sale with an estimated price between £80.000 and £120.000.
George Daniels Millenium – photo Sothebys
A RARE WHITE GOLD AUTOMATIC CENTRE SECONDS WRISTWATCH WITH TWO-TONE GOLD DIAL, DATE AND DANIELS SLIM CO-AXIAL ESCAPEMENT MILLENNIUM 1999
• automatic nickel lever movement, slim Co-Axial escapement, mono-metallic free-sprung balance, gold guilloche rotor, the movement plate with eccentric outer rim engraved with foliate decoration • silvered engine-turned dial, eccentric yellow gold chapter ring for time display with Roman numerals, yellow gold date ring with Arabic numerals, silver cartouches on either side signed Daniels London, yellow gold Daniels hands • 18k white gold case, yellow gold winding crown positioned between 7 and 8 • case, dial and movement signed• case hallmarked for London 1999, maker’s mark GD and engraved AB99
diameter 37 mm
The watch sold for £187,500 (including buyer’s premium)
So if you have one you can sit comfortably in the knowledge they fetch good money !
I had been meaning to watch this film every since it came out. Finally, prompted my a fellow watch lover I got round to watching it last night.
What you get from it are several things one a fascinating insight into the work of a watchmaker, which looks a lot tougher than you might romantically imagine. Then you get a clear idea of the personalities of the two men George Daniels and Roger Smith. I have never met George Daniels and the film confirmed the opinion I had always held that George Daniels is one of the most important figures in the history of horology. We also get to discover some of the other facets of the man’s personalty such as his passion for vintage cars and perfectionism.
On the other hand I have briefly met Roger Smith who has always struck me as being a very pleasant and patient man. What the film showed very well also was his dedication and perfectionism. How many people would work on a project to help obtain an apprenticeship for seven years?
So as well as being of horological interest this film is very motivational, showing that to achieve greta things you need dedication, dedication and more dedication.
I thought I would find out some more about this impressive pocket watch and this is it’s story.
Dr. 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. Dr. Daniels said it was not for sale but the collector persisted. Dr. Daniels thought this was an enormous compliment as he did not even ask the price, and so sold him the watch. Dr. Daniels immediately regretted selling this watch and therefore decided to make another 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 Dr. Daniels contacted a friend at Cambridge University to ask if they knew of a mathematician interested in watches. He got 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 Dr. Daniels was very happy with.
Dr. 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 Dr. Daniels did not think this was good enough so 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.