Pocket watch inspired by moon landing sells for record $4.5M

Timepiece one of 23 handmade by George Daniels

By Amy Woodyatt, CNN
Sotheby's via CNN

The Space Traveller watch, which sold for a record $4.5 million, was inspired by the 1969 moon landing.

(CNN) - A timepiece by famous English watchmaker George Daniels has set a new world record, selling at auction for £3.6 million ($4.5 million) at auction.

The Space Traveller, a yellow-gold watch with a double-link chain and a gold and blued-steel, double-ended key, sold at Sotheby's in London and set a record for an English watch.

The watch, described by Daniels as "the kind of watch you would need on your package tour to Mars," was one of only 23 pocket timepieces handmade by the master watchmaker.

Inspired by the 1969 US moon landing, the Space Traveller was built to show both solar and sidereal time -- respectively, time reckoned according to the relative positions of the earth and the sun, and the relative positions of the earth and the stars -- equation of time (the difference between the time shown on clocks and on sundials), and phases of the moon.

"Daniels was determined that his watch would be one that could be of theoretical use to an astronaut, he therefore set out to devise a watch that displayed, simultaneously, both mean-solar and sidereal time," Sotheby's said.

The watch, which was completed in 1982, also features Daniels' independent double wheel escapement, which the horologist invented in 1974.

He later created another version of the watch, Space Traveller II, which remained in his own collection until his death and was later sold at Sotheby's London in September 2017 for £3.1 million -- the previous record for an English watch.

Considered one of the finest watch makers of the 20th century, Daniels created his timepieces by hand -- including the case, dial and movement. He died in 2011.

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