There are few names in Horology which really move the soul and inspire one to dream the dreams of a maker. Breguet is one of them, and this particular name went on to inspire undoubtedly the finest watchmaker of our time. George Daniels. Much has been written on the output of this great man, and I don’t feel that I would do justice to begin describing the complexity and wonder of his creations, however I do feel compelled to highlight one of his most famous pieces – ‘The Space Travellers’ Pocket Watch’.
This watch has recently been truly in focus in the watch world following it’s recent sale where it reached a staggering £3.2 million.
This tour de force of horology was completed by Daniels following the sale of a previous version. The first watch had a mechanical error in the calculation of the sidereal train, something which all clocks and watches containing this function had also been subject to. This was improved on for the second watch with the help of Daniels friend, another Daniels, Professor Henry Daniels. He managed to successfully design a train with ratios giving an accuracy in the calculation of 0.28 seconds per year.
Completed in 1982 the ‘Space Traveller’ has to be one of the finest and most important pocket watches of recent times. Yes there are others, you are probably screaming out at me “what about the ‘Graves’ Patek?!” – the most complicated (and expensive) watch ever made at the time and selling most recently in 2014 for a whopping $24,000,000.
More recently still Vacheron Constantine have been busy and stolen the crown for the worlds most complicated watch by producing the magnificent 57260 containing a massive 57 complications. Well yes both of these watches are deeply impressive and have quite rightly confirmed their places in Horological history, but neither of them are quite like a Daniels.
The only watch that I can think of which comes close is the Breguet masterpiece made famously for Marie-Antoinette, but even this somehow lacks the essence captured by Daniels. All of these watches, perfect and magnificent in their own ways, somehow lack the purity of thought and design displayed by Daniels. I don’t believe that Daniels was striving to achieve super complication for the sake of it, or even for one upmanship, but simply as a way of improving a design which was open to improvement.
This clarity somehow makes the watch feel pure and honest, a quality which is surely the most super complication of them all.
You can view the original auction listing HERE
Hodinkee have a great in depth write up which can be found HERE
Details of the watch on the Daniels website can be found HERE