Dr. George Daniels C.B.E (1926 – 2011) is regarded by many as having been the greatest watchmaker of the last 250 years. He was the first person in history to make every component of a watch, from scratch and by hand.
It was a task which involved mastering more than 30 long-forgotten skills to painstakingly craft 150 individual components, before developing a mechanism which ensured absolute accuracy. Each of his creations – regarded as works of art by many – could take more than 2,500 hours to complete. And it was all done from a single workshop at the back of his home on the Isle of Man.
Watchmaker Roger Smith, who moved to the Isle of Man in 1988 to work with Dr Daniels, said: “It is the equivalent of one man designing and making every single component of the greatest car the world has ever seen in his garage at home, right down to putting hide leather on the seats and hand stitching it.”
Some of the skills could take years to master. Traditionally one man would sit down every day and he would make wheels, another skilled craftsman would make pinions. There are five trades alone involved in making one pocket watch case and you would have hand makers, dial makers and so on. He did the lot. In a remarkable career spanning 60 years, Dr Daniels dedicated himself to the pursuit of watchmaking perfection. When he died at the age of 85 in 2011 he had completed 24 of the most extraordinary and technically advanced watches ever made.
Every single watch he made had at least two major technical advancements and when completed each one was the most technically advanced watch in the world. At a Sotheby’s auction in November 2012, The Space Traveller’s watch, invented to commemorate the first moon landing, was the highest selling item at £1.32m.
George Daniels was never satisfied with what had been done before. He always studied and examined his work and improved upon it.
We may not share the same passion for watchmaking as George did, but we would do well to follow his example of dedication to his chosen trade.
What could you be a master of if you never accepted that your last piece of work was your best? What if you chose to believe that you can do it better next time? You can know that you are a person of great potential, but sooner or later simply knowing it is not enough. It is time to act.
To be so focused in every aspect of your life on a daily basis is probably setting the goal out of reach, but what if you hand-picked a few things that you could do better than the last time? Instead of comparing ourselves to the person next to us, let’s work towards fulfilling our own potential. Maybe patience is an issue for you – if that’s the case, then focus on being slower to anger next time. If it’s a business that you run, when did you last take time out to evaluate your business to see what improvements could be made? This could be anything from treatment of staff to streamlining procedures, reviewing suppliers, expanding the customer base etc. It could be your personal finances that need looking at, maybe you don’t save enough? Maybe there are issues with debt that need to be handled better? Whatever it is that might have popped into your head, the point is to move forward. Make progress. Improve. Do it better. Why? Because you can. But that’s not the reason why you should. The reason why you should is because it would be a waste not to.
喬治‧丹尼爾斯博士（大英帝國司令勛章獲得者）（1926 – 2011）是過去250年公認為最傑出的製錶大師。他也是史上第一位能手工製作手錶所有零件的人。這項浩大的工程包括要掌握三十餘種近乎失傳的技藝，精心琢磨150個獨立零件，最終才能組裝成絕對精密的手錶。他的每一件作品——或許應稱為藝術品才對——都需要花上超過2500小時來製作完成，而這一切，都始於他在馬恩島上自家後院的工作坊。