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Making an exploding clock


First experiences with watches
George Daniels Master watchmaker
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Well, my interest in watches was first aroused by the discovery in the house of a watch. I don't know who it belonged to, but it was fair game to open it up with the bread knife, and examine its contents. I found them quite fascinating. The watch wasn't going but it had all the potential qualities of the complexity of a watch, which is very intriguing. Later on, I turned to the household alarm clock, which offered better opportunity of dismantling, being larger and more easily accessible, and having learnt all I could from that, my early exploratory horology ceased. I was then six years of age and couldn't find any watches to take to pieces and I had to abandon it all. I had nothing to do with watches then for some five years, when again my interest was quickened by the ability to make some pocket money selling firewood, which enabled me to go and buy the clocks I wanted from jumble sales, and one could obtain a very good clock for - as it was in those days - sixpence or a shilling. And so I found plenty of material to exercise my horological interest with.

Later on, by the age of about 12, I had advanced sufficiently to start actually charging people for repairing their watches. I couldn't charge many people because I didn't mend many watches. I think I wrecked more than I repaired, but at least I learnt how a watch works and made some money out of it. And the interesting thing about it was that I knew that I was the only pupil in that school of a couple of thousand pupils who knew anything about watches, who knew anything about how they worked and what they looked like inside, and so it was my private information. I didn't discuss it with anybody because nobody knew enough to discuss it and it was a very comforting thing as I was rather a bad scholar in other realms. It was a great comfort to me to know that I knew something that no one else knew.

George Daniels, CBE, DSc, FBHI, FSA (19 August 1926 - 21 October 2011) was an English watchmaker most famous for creating the co-axial escapement. Daniels was one of the few modern watchmakers who could create a complete watch by hand, including the case and dial. He was a former Master of the Clockmakers' Company of London and had been awarded their Gold Medal, a rare honour, as well as the Gold Medal of the British Horological Institute, the Gold Medal of the City of London and the Kullberg Medal of the Stockholm Watchmakers’ Guild.

Listeners: Roger Smith

Roger Smith was born in 1970 in Bolton, Lancashire. He began training as a watchmaker at the age of 16 at the Manchester School of Horology and in 1989 won the British Horological Institute Bronze Medal. His first hand made watch, made between 1991 and 1998, was inspired by George Daniels' book "Watchmaking" and was created while Smith was working as a self-employed watch repairer and maker. His second was made after he had shown Dr Daniels the first, and in 1998 Daniels invited him to work with him on the creation of the 'Millennium Watches', a series of hand made wrist watches using the Daniels co-axial escapement produced by Omega. Roger Smith now lives and works on the Isle of Man, and is considered the finest watchmaker of his generation.

Duration: 2 minutes, 24 seconds

Date story recorded: May 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008