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See the George Daniels Space Traveller II at London’s Science Museum

The masterpiece on show to the public.

Almost exactly a month ago at Sotheby’s in London, the George Daniels Space Traveller I sold for £3.62m, or about US$4.56m at the time, including all fees. It became the most expensive English watch ever sold, breaking the record set by the second Space Traveller that sold in the same venue two years earlier.

After the landmark 2017 sale, the Space Traveller II disappeared into private hands somewhere in the United Kingdom. Now it has reemerged at the Science Museum in London, where it will be on display for at least three years.

Made entirely by hand, as were all his watches, the Space Traveller II was produced after Daniels had sold the first version of the watch, which he greatly regretted. Along with the Grand Complication, the second Space Traveller was worn by Daniels until the end of his life.

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The first Space Traveller

The first Space Traveller was conceived to commemorate the Moon landing of 1969, which is why it displays both mean solar time – the usual 24 hour day we use on Earth – as well as sidereal time, which is time based on the Earth’s rotation around the Sun.

Once Daniels embarked on making the second Space Traveller to replace the first, he endeavoured to make it more complex, incorporating his proprietary “compact chronograph” mechanism. But it is no ordinary stopwatch, because the chronograph in the Space Traveller II can switch between mean solar time and sidereal time thanks to a clutch mechanism.

“It is fitting that this stunning and intricate watch… is now on display for our visitors as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of humanity’s achievements in space,” says Sir Ian Blatchford, the Director of the Science Museum Group.

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The movement of the Space Traveller II visible through its display back. Photo – Science Museum

The Space Traveller II is part of a small exhibit dedicated to George Daniels inside the Clockmakers’ Museum, which is located on the second floor of the Science Museum.

Made up of the watch and clock collection owned by the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers, the Clockmakers’ Museum is the the oldest such collection in the world, having been established in 1814. “It’s a real privilege for the Clockmaker’s Museum to be able to display this iconic watch to the public,” notes Anna Rolls, the curator of the museum.

The Daniels will on display for at least three years, although I understand from well informed individuals that the owner intends to ensure that the watch will be permanently available for public display.

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The Space Traveller II within the Daniels exhibit. Photo – Science Museum

Visitor information

The Science Museum is open daily from 10:00am to 6:00pm. Admission is free.

Science Museum
Exhibition Road
South Kensington
London, SW7 2DD
United Kingdom

For more, visit Sciencemuseum.org.uk.


 

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Hands-On: Chanel Boy.Friend Skeleton Watch

The impressive Calibre 3 inside.

Chanel has been slowly but steadily building up its line of mechanical watches powered by high-end, in-house movements. Most notable is the Monsieur de Chanel jump hour, created with the help of respected independent watchmaker Romain Gauthier, who sold a minority stake in his company to Chanel several years ago.

Mr Gauthier also had a hand in last year’s Boy.Friend Skeleton, a top of the line variant of Chanel’s fashionable rectangular watch. Fancy mechanics are usually the preserve of men’s watches, but the Boy.Friend Skeleton boasts an impressively thoughtful, open-worked movement, the Calibre 3.

In fact, the design and details of the in-house movement show that it was conceived from the ground up with a particular aesthetic goal in mind. It’s the only way to create a skeleton movement that looks as coherent as this does.

Chanel Boy.Friend Skeleton watch 5

An especially beautiful detail are the gilded bevels on the outermost frame of the base plate and the sub-seconds, which emphasise the finish and shape of the movement.

Chanel circles

The Calibre 3 has been constructed to incorporate a series of repeating, interlocking circles, a favourite motif of Chanel’s chief watch designer, Arnaud Chastaingt.

The motif starts with the bridges and base plate, which are all brass finish with a frosted surface coated in black amorphous diamond-like carbon (ADLC).

A telling indication of the attention to detail put into its construction lies in how the bridges are constructed. Instead of being a single piece machined to look like several intersecting circles, the bridges are separate pieces sitting on slightly different levels, enhancing the depth and detail of the movement.

Chanel Boy.Friend Skeleton watch 1

An especially beautiful detail are the gilded bevels on the outermost frame of the base plate and the sub-seconds, which emphasise the finish and shape of the movement.

All of the moving parts inside are also arranged to suit the movement design, with the going train laid out almost vertically, starting with the barrel at 12 o’clock. Energy flows downwards from the mainspring to the balance wheel at five o’clock.

Another carefully considered detail are the gears: all of the wheels, from those in the gear train to the keyless works, are solid instead of spoked. This enhances the clean, modern aesthetic of the movement, while accentuating the circular motif in the bridges.

Chanel Boy.Friend Skeleton watch 4

While the movement finishing mostly machine-applied with the final touches done by hand, demonstrated by the clean and sharp lines, it is attractively and precisely done.

Bottle cap case

The Boy.Friend skeleton is a ladies’ watch, albeit a largish one. Inspired by the cap of the Chanel No. 9 perfume bottle, the oblong case is 37mm by 28.6mm. It’s made of 18k beige gold, a gold alloy unique to Chanel that’s a paler shade than standard yellow gold.

Chanel Boy.Friend Skeleton watch 2

The facetted crown again echoes the shape of the cap, and is topped with a decorative onyx cabochon.

Because the movement was designed specifically for the case, no movement holder is needed. The base plate is screwed directly onto the inside face of the watch case with four screws.

Chanel Boy-Friend Skeleton 3

The Calibre 3 free of the case. Photo – Chanel

Concluding thoughts

Though the watch is doubtless large enough to pass as a watch for men, the Boy.Friend line is exclusively for ladies, so the skeleton wouldn’t pass muster as a men’s watch. That’s unfortunately, because it is executed to a degree that few men’s skeleton watches are.

In all tangible respects, the Boy.Friend Skeleton scores highly; the movement design and construction are both comparable to skeleton movements from mainstream, high horology brands. The only area where it falls short is branding, because Chanel is not a mainstream, high horology brand, though watches like this prove otherwise.


Key facts

Diameter: 28.6mm
Length: 37.0mm
Height: 8.40mm
Material: 18k beige gold
Water-resistance: 30m

Movement: Calibre 3
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds
Winding: Hand-wound
Frequency: 28,800bph, or 4Hz
Power reserve: 55 hours

Strap: Alligator with 18k pin buckle

Price and availability

The Boy.Friend Skeleton large version in 18k beige gold (ref. H5254) is priced at US$40,600. And the same set with diamonds on the bezel (ref. H5255) is US$47,300. Both are available at Chanel boutiques and timepiece retailers.


 

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