Sales / Watches

A Trio of Ultrarare George Daniels Watches Heads to Auction


George Daniels wasn’t just any watchmaker. In fact, he created only 27 watches by himself (excluding prototypes) throughout his entire lifetime (which consisted almost entirely of pocket watches). But what he did create was nothing short of exceptional (he was the mastermind behind the coaxial escapement, after all), which helps explain why his pieces are in such high demand and often sell in the millions. In 2019, for example, his Space Traveller watch sold for $4.6 million, breaking the record for the highest English watch ever sold at auction. What’s to come, however, many expect to top that.

Nov. 5–6 Phillips will host the Geneva Watch Auction: XVI and offer three wristwatches by the late English horologist, including one he created for himself.

“George Daniels was one of the greatest watchmakers in history, and it is an honor to present not only a unique tourbillon wristwatch with spring case, made fully by hand by Daniels himself and appearing on the auction market for the very first time, but also two of the most sought-after wristwatches by an independent watchmaker ahead of the Geneva Watch Auction: XVI in November,” Alexandre Ghotbi, Phillips’ continental Europe and Middle East head of watches, said in a statement. “For Daniels, a watch had to have historic, intellectual, technical, aesthetic, amusing, and useful qualities, a mantra that he applied to all his creations, with these three examples being no exception. Daniels’ legacy continues to influence the generations of watchmakers that follow him.”

George Daniels Spring Case
George Daniels Spring Case tourbillon in yellow gold; estimate: over $1,043,000 (photo courtesy of Phillips)

The Spring Case tourbillon was Daniel’s personal watch from its creation in 1992 to 2005, when he sold it after being persuaded to do so by a friend. It’s the only one that he wore for more than a decade out of the two that he ever made for himself. And this auction marks the first time it’s being offered in a public sale.

George Daniels Anniversary watch
George Daniels Anniversary watch in yellow gold; estimate: $313,000–$625,000 (photo courtesy of Phillips)

Part of a collection of watches made in collaboration with his protégé Roger Smith in honor of 35 years since Daniels’ invention of the coaxial escapement, this Anniversary watch in yellow gold is one of only 35 created.

George Daniels Millennium watch
George Daniels Millennium watch in yellow gold; estimate: $260,000–$521,000 (photo courtesy of Phillips)

Last but certainly not least, Daniels’ Millennium watch was originally created to celebrate the release of the new version of the coaxial escapement. Limited to 48 pieces, it’s also the first example of a Daniels watch made in a series and features a heavily modified Omega caliber, as well as his distinctive guilloche dial.

Ahead of the November sale, all three watches will be on view at Geneva’s Beau Rivage hotel during the Geneva Watch Days fair, Aug. 29–Sept. 1.

Top: A portrait of George Daniels wearing the tourbillon (photo courtesy of Roger Smith)

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By: Annie Davidson Watson

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