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Isle of Man honours its historic watchmakers with commemorative set of stamps

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The Isle of Man has issued a set of stamps that honour the island’s extraordinarily accomplished watchmakers over the past century.

John Harwood, who is credited with inventing the first automatic wristwatch in 1923 (a claim briefly made by Rolex in 1931 and then retracted), finds his face on the 62p stamp.

Mr Harwood was not only a world-beater with his self-winding movement, he also has the business acumen to take it to market through partnerships with Fortis and Omega, which had the manufacturing capability to produce it at scale.

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George Daniels CBE, who is revered as one of the 20th century’s finest watchmakers, also lived and worked on the Isle of Man, and it was in his workshop that he created the patented coaxial escapement that was adopted by Omega and continues to be used to the present day.

His tiny output of hand-made watches have become some of the most collectible timepieces in the world today.

A George Daniels Space Traveller sold for over £3 million in 2017, and features on the £1.17 stamp.

Mr Daniels’ best-know apprentice, Roger W. Smith, has continued the legacy of great watchmakers on the Isle of Man, and walks in the footsteps of his mentor by adopting his philosophy for making extremely rare, meticulously hand made pieces.

Perhaps his most famous watch, the GREAT Britain piece made after the then Prime Minister David Cameron made him an ambassador for his Great Britain promotional campaign, features on the £1.58 stamp.

The full collection from the Isle of Man Post office, can be bought in gift packs and with additional explanatory literature.

The stamps are:

62p – John Harwood:  This stamp displays John Harwood, inventor of the self-winding watch, utilising kinetic energy to produce the first self-winding wristwatch. Harwood, who is pictured next to his 1929 watch, ‘The Automatic’, produced this piece in his workshop on the Isle of Man though his innovations found homes with Fortis and Omega.

94p – George Daniels, “The Grand Complication”:  George Daniels, CBE, DSc, FBHI, FSA, AHCI was an English horologist who was considered to be the best in the world during his lifetime. He was one of the few modern watchmakers who built complete watches by hand. But it was his creation of the coaxial escapement for which he is most remembered.

£1.17 – George Daniels, “Space Traveller”: Our second stamp introduces George Daniels working on a timepiece by hand, with his Space Traveller watch in the background. Acknowledged as one of Daniels’ finest works, the watch displayed sold for over £3 million in 2017. This hand built watch featured coaxial escapement, improving the performance of mechanical watches. A feature that is now found in many modern watches, such as those of Omega.

£1.40 – George Daniels, “The Blue”:  The Blue was released as a four piece collection by Daniels and signifies an important place in the history of his works and horological career. The stamp shares imagery of both the watch and its production, displaying Daniels with his apprentice, Roger W. Smith.

£1.58  –  Roger W. Smith, “The GREAT Britain”: This stamp pictures a close up image of one of Smith’s greatest creations. Named the ‘GREAT Britain II’, this watch represents the greatest single step forward for mechanical watch technology in the modern era. Smith notes that this watch features perhaps the most complex dial ever made by hand and a movement which is one-of-a-kind.

£2.37 – Roger W. Smith, “The GREAT Britain”: The final stamp pictures Roger W. Smith as he works meticulously on The GREAT Britain watch. Smith moved to the Isle of Man to work alongside Daniels as his apprentice, where his workshop remains today, situated in Ramsey, Isle of Man.

The stamps are available in Mint or Cancelled to Order and complete with free worldwide delivery.

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Tags : george danielsJohn Harwoodroger w smith
Rob Corder

The author Rob Corder