16 April 2012, St George's, Hanover Square, London
Over a hundred of the greatest watchmakers descend on London from around the globe to commemorate the passing of the greatest watchmaker since Breguet. They have travelled so far, yet I have only to cross London by tube. But the bugger breaks down, and I am late. Imagine - a gathering of 100 watchmakers, and I am the only one who doesn't get there on time. Sneaking to an empty pew at the back like a naughty schoolboy.
The speakers include Roger Smith, George's only apprentice, and David Newman, trustee of the Daniels Estate. Then Roger Collings, past president of the Vintage Sports Car Club starts to speak, and it dawns on me that half the congregation are racing drivers, for George was a keen vintage racer himself. I'd never really thought about this side of him. And by all their accounts he led hearty life, washed down with plenty of fine wine.
I never met George vis-à-vis, but we did exchange letters, both of us in spidery longhand. They mostly covered technical points - if I had known he was going to die on me, I'd have made more of an effort to make friends. Initially, I didn't know his address, so I wrote on the envelope "George Daniels, Watchmaker, Isle of Man." It got there, as I discovered when I received his reply, which included the charming post script, "I am told I have a comprehensive web sight..." [sic]