When the name of George Daniels comes to mind, most people with at least some knowledge of the development of modern watchmaking will immediately connect the name with the co-axial escapement that inhabits a growing percentage of Omega timepieces. The Daniels-invented co-axial escapement is one of the cornerstones of Omega’s watchmaking expertise and the rights to use this escapement were purchased by erstwhile Swatch Group chairman Nicolas G. Hayek with the aim of putting together the most beautiful and best-performing series-produced movements in the world.
Based on his incredible contribution towards expanding the boundaries of watchmaking, George Daniels is frequently cited as the most talented and brilliant watchmaker of our age — oft compared to Abraham Louis Breguet, whose work Daniels greatly admired. Even now, two years after the passing of Daniels, there has yet to be another watchmaker in our collective consciousness who can be said to assume the empty mantle that he left behind him.
George Daniels: A Master Watchmaker and His Art is a finely illustrated and comprehensively researched book on the watchmaker himself, delving into his early childhood years and the progress of a young watch-repairer into the greatest horologer in living memory.
The author, veteran journalist Michael Clerizo, was close to Daniels in his later years and the book was written largely out of personal interactions with the man himself, which endows the text with the glow of authenticity as well as the sparkle of the famously mercurial watchmaker’s humour and wit.
Daniels’ triumphs, such as his acclaimed tomes of scholarship on Breguet and his instructional book Watchmaking — widely regarded as a horological bible to this day — are covered at length, but so are his struggles. In his portrait of Daniels, Clerizo does not shy away from describing the long journey filled with setbacks that Daniels traversed in the course of bringing the co-axial escapement into an industrial reality.
Rather surprisingly — surprising because we are used to thinking of great men in terms of their accomplishments and not their tribulations — it is these sections that enhance the already legendary stature of George Daniels. The accounts of his difficult childhood, the continual sense of feeling like an outsider in the career of his choice, his difficulties in finding people to believe in his magnum opus — these are the aspects of George Daniels: A Master Watchmaker and His Art that elevate the narrative and make this book both a reference-level work of horological scholarship as well as an inspiration to anyone and everyone who loves watches and watchmaking.