Prix Gaïa 2001 – George Daniels. Craftsmanship-Creation category
He was honored for his technical, scientific and historical career as well as his literature and innovations that have conferred modern watchmaking a universal dimension.
- The Art of Breguet, London, 1975
- Production of mechanical watches with complications.
- Creation of the co-axial escapement.
Enthralled by watch mechanisms since a young age, George Daniels did not get the opportunity to undertake a watchmaking apprenticeship due to the financial situation of his family and historical circumstances. At 18 years old in 1944, he joined the British army. While he carried out his patriotic duty for three and a half years, he also practiced his passion for watchmaking on his own and repaired watches and clocks for others.
Together with his pay as a soldier, the additional income helped him save money to buy the tools he wanted when he retired from the army. For three years, he took night classes in the theory and mathematics of watchmaking.
He then founded a repair and restoration company of antique and modern watches and clocks. Soon after that, he contacted Breguet, on Place Vendôme in Paris and the then-manager, George Brown. He was then introduced to the one who became his “master” in watchmaking. He restored two three-wheel pendulums based on Abraham-Louis Breguet's designs that were kept in the company's archives.
In 1967, he took the decision to start producing his own watches with the famous 18th-century watchmaker as inspiration. To pay tribute to the great master watchmaker, he wrote the remarkable book named “L'Art de Breguet”. It was filled with 350 illustrations and 110 designs and was published in London in 1975. The advent of quartz watches strengthened his will to produce high mechanical watches and develop new mechanisms. He analyzed the design of a new escapement in an endeavor to confer even more accuracy to his timepieces. His research led him to the creation of the co-axial escapement which he believed increased accuracy and required minimum maintenance since no lubricant was necessary. The escapement is currently manufactured by Omega and features in some of the brand's models.
Throughout his career, Daniels has designed around thirty pocket watches with complications: minute repeaters, astronomical watches, chronographs, perpetual calendars, thermometers, power reserve indicators, tourbillons among others. Together with a technical complexity, their other defining feature was their aesthetics that was inspired by Abraham-Louis Breguet's models.
George Daniels' career is interspersed with several awards and it is worth mentioning that he obtained an honorary doctorate from the University of London.
To celebrate the beginning of the third millennium, Georges Daniels produced 50 watches with an automatic calendar and a co-axial escapement in his workshops. Moreover, he continued his work that always had a touch of his passion for watchmaking.