"He is not widely known but was an accomplished watchmaker, having made high quality pocket watches from the seventies to eighties, with various functions and complications"
Su Jia Xian
"Richard Daners’ professional career is defined by his passion for tourbillons and escapements and his involvement with unique complicated watches. He was an extremely skillful watchmaker and was a very discrete person – never sought the limelight; a true gentleman."
This highly complicated and intricately decorated 18k yellow gold keyless tourbillon chronometer features an annual calendar, sideral and mean solar times, 12 and 24-hour indication and a thermometer.
The dial configuration bears a striking resemblance to Abraham-Louis Breguet’s watch numbered 2807 from 1817, with mean and sidereal time in symmetrical sub-dials positioned below applied star and sun symbols. Housing a superbly decorated gilt half plate movement with a one-minute flying tourbillon created by the talented Richard Daners.
Thomas Engel (1927-2015) started his professional career in post-war Germany as a dishwasher for the occupying American army. He was an autodidact and his fascination with plastics and a versatile, inventive mind eventually led to his claim over 120 patents, many in the field of polymers – inventing cross-linked polyethylene (PEX) that’s widely used in pipes and cables - but also the under-soil heating of the Munich Olympic Stadium. Those inventions made him a millionaire many times over, and Engel lived life fully, having been married thrice. But his true passion was watches, particularly those of Abraham-Louis Breguet. Engel not only published a book dedicated to his Breguet collection, but also produced watches in the style of the French watchmaker as a second career.
This rare red leather bound book was authored by Thomas Engel and what can be seen as his love letter to the greatest watchmaker in history. A summation of Breguet's life lived and his horological exploits, Engel also fully documents his extensive collection of Breguet timekeepers.
Already middle aged, Engel moved to Switzerland to study watchmaking with Richard Daners (1930-2018), a talented Swiss watchmaker who worked for Swiss jeweller Gübelin for most of his career. Daners not only taught Engel the craft, but also helped produced most of Engel’s timepieces, which were mostly finely crafted pocket watches powered by observatory chronometer-quality movements obtained from Zenith, but also included several Breguet inspired carriage clocks. Many of the pocket watches incorporated a tourbillon regulator featuring a distinctive three-armed carriage and open-worked cock, and a handful were even fitted with a thermometer driven by a bimetallic strip, just as found in some Breguet pocket watches.
Engel's fascination with the timepieces of Breguet also extended to its clocks, and this is modelled on a typical Breguet carriage clock from the 19th century. Engel reputedly had this clock produced after realising the difficulty of obtaining an original. Expressing a similar frustration, George Daniels also replicated a Breguet clock No.3225 for the very same reason.
18K yellow gold, keyless, astronomical “Chronomètre” open face pocket watch, dial with day of the week, thermometer hands at 9 o’clock with phases of the moon, and a large subsidiary seconds indicator.
Produced with the help of Swiss watchmaker Richard Daners, the pocket watches were often powered by the Zenith 5011K, a prize-winning observatory chronometer movement, but substantially modified to incorporate various complications. This example, an 18k yellow gold open-faced keyless lever watch with moon-phases.