In-Depth: The George Daniels 35th Anniversary Watch
by Kyle Stults on November 01, 2012
Pinit

 

The momentous announcement has been made by Roger W. Smith:  the first George Daniels 35th Anniversary Watch has been delivered!  Roger W. Smith is co-creator of the watch and protege of the late Dr. George Daniels (1926-2011).   The realization of this watch and its announcement in particular comes almost precisely one year following the passing of modern day watchmaking legend Dr. George Daniels; it is the culmination of a vision that Daniels approached Roger W. Smith with in 2009 and was announced to the world in 2010.  But sadly, it was a vision that the great Daniels would not live to see come to life:  in the fall of 2011, just three weeks after giving his approval for the prototype of the Anniversary Watch that he and Roger W. Smith had uncompromisingly and painstakingly worked on for two years, Dr. George Daniels passed away.

And so it was Roger W. Smith, up to then in close collaboration with George Daniels but now without, who pressed on with the daunting task of finishing the special Anniversary watch, a watch envisioned to commemorate the 35 year anniversary of the invention that made George Daniels forever famous in the world of high watchmaking — the co-axial escapement.  The Daniels Anniversary Watch will now undoubtedly also be seen as a commemoration of the life of George Daniels.

Yes, you may have seen live pics already, but rest assured you haven’t seen a full break down on this watch like Perpetuelle delivers now.  In particular you don’t want to miss our special look at the escapement in the watch (hint: it’s not quite what you think it might be).  We’ve got all the details, on the jump.

The George Daniels 35th Anniversary Watch

Case:  40mm hand fabricated yellow gold case (12.4mm thick including front and back sapphire crystals).  The case has been hand fabricated using the Daniels method as described in ‘Watchmaking’ by George Daniels and weighs approximately 48 grams

Dial: hours, minutes, seconds, instantaneous calendar mechanism, power reserve display, stop start mechanism.  Hand engine turned with hand engraved numerals and lettering.  Flame whitened dial background and radial grained chapters.  All lettering and numerals are inked in by hand and then protected with lacquer which is applied by hand using a Squirrel hair brush.

According to RW Smith, “George was very fond of the dial layout used on his wrist and pocket chronographs completed in 1991 and 1994 respectively and this dial layout was the inspiration for the Anniversary dial.”

As noted above the watch has the  the Daniels Stop Start mechanism — this is a function which seeks to ensure stable torque by disengaging the mainspring after 36 hours, thus using the “prime” powering segment of the mainspring rather than near the end of the state of which in which the power delivered drops off.  Just one more small mechanical detail that makes this watch special.

 

The Daniels Anniversary Watch is a limited Series of 35 pieces — representing not only the anniversary of Daniels crowning achievement and arguably one of the most significant achievements in all of watchmaking over the last century, but also the culmination of the life and times of Daniels himself.  It is a piece that wholeheartedly and without compromise embodies the watchmaking style and philosophy of Dr. Daniels.  Of further significance  for the Anniversary Watch is that it also marks the very first time that a limited edition series of hand made wristwatches with a new movement fully designed by George Daniels and made on the Isle of Man have been offered to the public.

As Roger W. Smith recounts:  “A Daniels watch was always made entirely under one roof and every component is made from raw materials in the workshop, without the use of repetitive or automatic tools. The form of the watches is complete simplicity; there are no concessions to artificial styling, which gives Daniels’ watches a perfectly functional aesthetic that endures outside the passage of time and the vagaries of fashion.”

Not surprisingly, George Daniels is said to have signed off on and agreed to each design decision.  Certain signature details are apparent in the Daniels Anniversary Watch:  the arrow on the hour-hands, the circles in the dials.  Then there is the overall functional simplicity of it all.  It is a superb timepiece.

Fitted to a black Alligator strap with hand made yellow gold deployment clasp weighing approximately 28 grams

A Daniels Co-Axial Escapement, Yes.  But Not His Original Design!

For me, when it comes to the mechanics of the Daniels Anniversary watch, one aspect stands above the rest:  the Daniels escapement, or the Co-Axial Escapement as it is commonly known.  Now here’s what’s interesting:  the Co-Axial escapement is NOT the “original” Daniels Co-Axial, the one which made him so famous.  It is actually the “Single wheel Daniels Co-Axial, as conceived by Roger Smith”!

Yes, you casual observers of horology, you armchair watch enthusiasts — there is not just one Daniels Co-Axial Escapement.  And I suppose that this is also why have the insatiable desire to frequent Perpetuelle:  allow me to elucidate the difference between the original Daniels Co-Axial, the “Double Wheel” if you will, and the Single Wheel Daniels Co-Axial, as conceived by Roger Smith.  Actually, a visual representation helps to simplify and make understandable by the technical differences (explanation follows):

As can be observed from the above graphic, during the manufacture of the original/double wheel Daniels Co-axial escapement, great precision is required in the assembly of both the upper and lower escape wheels.  Basically the two wheels must be very precisely fitted such that they are both concentric and radially aligned to each other in order for the escapement to work to its optimum.  Doable, yes, but easier said than done.  The nuanced improvement in the Daniels Escapement made by Roger Smith, combines the upper and lower wheels into one by adding raised teeth onto the inner lower wheel.  And thus the escape wheel is made into a single harmonious operation, one that much more easily ensures that the escape wheel is radially and concentrically correct.

And so just as Smith has since used this modification in all of his own watches (the Series 2), so too did he make the case to Daniels that his single wheel co-axial should be used in the Anniversary Watch.

Says Smith of the actual conversation in which he made this proposal to Daniels, “It definitely goes down as one of the more nerve-wracking conversations I have had!”  He continues, “But I had to do it and thankfully, George agreed”.  And so the Daniels Anniversary Watch has not the double wheel Co-Axial escapement as originally invented by Daniels, but the single wheel version as conceived by Roger W. Smith.   The apprentice’s mark upon the master, one might say.  For this piece, it is all too fitting.

The movement is otherwise archetypal Daniels.  Designed by Daniels, signed Daniels, with a free sprung balance, 18,000 vph (2.5Hz), manual wind with 36 hour power reserve (specifically restricted to 36 hours in order to use the “premium” portion of the mainspring)

Each of the 35 individually numbered pieces will sell for a price of £142,000 excluding VAT – about $229,000 at current f/x.    Each piece comes with a hand fabricated leather bound and gold embossed Daniels presentation box with hand-stitched and gold embossed documentation.  A hand made calendar corrector key is also included.

The hand fabricated graduated chain fitted to the Daniels pendant and bow with blued steel calendar corrector:

Prior to each watch being dispatched from the Daniels and Roger W Smith studio, each watch is personally signed off by Roger Smith.    This involves an inspection for aesthetics, function and accuracy which is followed by a two week, on-the-wrist test.  All adjustments will be made personally by Roger and only signed off when the watch has met the exacting standards expected from a Daniels watch.

I would also note that in addition to the 35 pieces in yellow gold, an additional 16 watches in each of white gold, rose gold and platinum will also be available.

More details on the incredible George Daniels Co-Axial Anniversary watch can be found here on Roger W Smith’s website.