A blue plaque has been unveiled in Penge at the former home of a man considered to be the finest watchmaker of his lifetime.

George Daniels CBE was commemorated today (Aug 22) by the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers, who gathered outside his past property in Thornsett Road.

Mr Daniels, who lived in the house for 20 years, is widely regarded as one of the most important men the world of horology has ever seen.

Born in 1926, his legacy in the industry includes leaving £21 million to various educational fields and inventing a mechanism called the coaxial escapement, now used by the famous Omega brand.

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The coaxial escapement

Master of The Worshipful Company of Clockmakers Jonathan Betts MBE, 59, who is also senior curator of horology in Greenwich – affectionately known as ‘Mr Greenwich Meantime’ – was full of praise at the ceremony.

He told News Shopper: “The plaque commemorates one of the gods of watchmaking – he was revered around the world.

“He won so many awards and did so much for the industry. We’re here to honour his contribution.

“It’s important we pay tribute to him.”

Mr Betts also mentioned how in the 1960s and 70s, when quartz technology arrived, the mechanical side of the sector was under threat.

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George Daniels 

But he explained Mr Daniels, who was self-taught and started out with only a £50 gratuity after leaving the Army, did a great deal to “keep the tradition alive” and was paramount to maintaining old skills.

David Newman, 73, from Park Langley in Beckenham, was a close friend of Mr Daniels and remembered a hardworking and industrious man.

Mr Newman is also the chairman of the George Daniels Trust, which looks after the millions left to the likes of horology, engineering, and medicine by Mr Daniels when he died in 2010.

He said: “I knew him for many years. He was very tough and hard-working and was a pleasure to know.

“He’s one of the most famous watchmakers in the world and so the plaque is very fitting.”

Mr Newman recalled just one piece made by his friend, known as the ‘Space Traveller’, sold for £1,300,000 at Sotheby’s, with others also fetching large sums. 

He also said Mr Daniels came from “very humble roots” but after starting out in 1950 went onto achieve greatness, and was made a Fellow of the British Horology Society – an organisation that now benefits from the money left – soon after.

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He chose to live in Penge as he was dealing with very expensive equipment, and also wanted space to store his extensive collection of vintage and classic cars.

Mr Daniels also wrote a multitude of books of the pastime. His work ‘Watchmaking’ is thought to be the definitive guide for the business.