by James Lamdin
Considered by many to be the greatest watchmaker of the 20th century, and also singularly responsible for keeping modern mechanical watchmaking alive during the invasion of mass-produced electronic quartz wristwatches, George Daniels left behind a legacy of important horological innovation when he died in 2011. From pocket watches to grandfather clocks and everything in between, the watchmaker made an indelible mark on the timekeeping industry during his lifetime.
Chronicled in a comprehensive new book by journalist Michael Clerizo, “George Daniels: A Master Watchmaker & His Art” offers an inspiring and intimate look at his life, which was in many ways as compelling as his work. The author got to know Daniels well and spent a great deal of time with him while writing the biography, up until Daniels’ death in late 2011. Their closeness afforded Clerizo to recount a number of firsthand stories told to him by Daniels, from his poor childhood spent in the streets of London, through his service in WWII and into his legendary career.
Clerizo spends time discussing the surroundings in which Daniels lived and worked—his home and workshop—and the items of importance in his personal collection that filled them, from clocks to harmonicas. Down to his passion for opera, the author paints a vivid picture of the sort of man Daniels was, how he lived and how his passion for mechanical artistry evolved.
Accompanying the deep look into Daniels’ life is an unparalleled selection of beautiful imagery, including full-page, fold-out images of his signature timepieces. The book includes a wider range of work than any catalogue, collection or publication we’ve seen before, and in showcasing works from various stages of his watchmaking career traces the evolution of his artistry within the context of his life.
In a world dominated by electronics and technology, there exists an ever-increasing appreciation for mechanical watches and what they symbolize. Inspiring a number of other watchmakers to begin innovating new mechanical movements, Daniels can be properly credited with not only saving the field from extinction 40 years ago but also laying the groundwork for what is today an incredibly robust and growing industry.
“George Daniels: A Master Watchmaker & His Art” drops on Amazon 1 April for about $60.
Images by James Lamdin and James Thorne