The auction of the George Daniels Horological Collection saw "standing-room only" declared, as hundreds of top collectors gathered to see clocks and watches from four centuries sold, with his Space Traveller's Watch exceeding all expectations.
The auction took place in London yesterday (November 6), topping its £5.7m ($9.2m) high estimate by 128% to realise £13.2m ($21.1m). All proceeds from the sale will benefit the George Daniels Educational Trust.
Daniels was considered the best horologist in the world during his career, and is best known for his creation of the co-axial escapement - a mechanism which all but eliminates the sliding friction created as a watch unwinds. He was also revered as the only watchmaker who could create every component of a watch by hand.
To check the accuracy of a watch in the 18th century it was necessary to have a precision clock, which was set by the stars. Daniels invented his Space Traveller's Watch, which boasts both sidereal and solar time, to make the calculation without the aid of such a clock.
Sidereal time, a measurement of the earth's rotation in proportion to the stars, equates to a difference of 3.5 minutes per day compared to solar time, which is a measurement of the earth's orbit of the sun. The watch shows both of these using a double-wheel escapement.
The pocket watch was produced in conjunction with mathematician Professor Henry Daniels to make it among the most accurate ever created. In tribute to the professor's contribution, George originally named it Daniels squared, but it was later changed to the Space Traveller's Watch in honour of the American landing on the Moon.
Having "everything you'd need on a watch if you were travelling through space", the 18k yellow gold watch sold for an outstanding $1.3m, setting a record for the most valuable English watch, a record for a George Daniels watch and another record for a piece by an independent watchmaker.
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