The job of an official timekeeper can be an exciting one, one with pressure and responsibility right at the heart of the action.
George Walker was born in Glasgow in 1932. As a teenager, he was stationed in England for his National Service in the RAF for 2 years. Later, he trained as a gardener at a private estate and moved on to work in Local Government parks department in Clydebank in the west of the Scotland. Progressing quickly, George went from gardener, to foreman, to assistant to the superintendent, to superintendent within a handful of years. It was during this time that he met and married his wife; they went on to have three daughters. Alongside a successful career and full personal life, George’s other passion was competitive cycling, an activity at which he excelled. His chosen races were time trials and hill climbs but as his family grew he chose to give up cycling and the time demands of training. Not wanting to step away completely, he remained on the cycling circuit by becoming a timekeeper for time trials. For this task, he used a number of split seconds chronograph stop watches, essentially a form of pocket watches, which were manual wind, mechanical tool watches. It was not until the 1990s that he switched to digital watches which were, by then, the norm.
Two career highlights for George were his appointment as official timekeeper at the 1970 and 1986 Commonwealth Games. At these, he worked at time trial and track events. He also worked at various other prominent cycling races in the coming decades, including the Health Race; a cycling event that took place over the course of a full week. From 1979, for a decade, he timed the Glasgow Marathon, and many other Glasgow sporting events in the years that followed, including athletics and swimming competitions.
Quite aptly, George nurtured a love of watches and clocks through his long timekeeping career. He kept most of the watches he used, finally choosing to offer them at auction in 2023 after his very late retirement.
Featuring in our 29 March Select Jewellery & Watches auction is an Omega Olympic stopwatch purchased by George and used by him at both Commonwealth Games. It comes with an estimate of £800-1200. A 19th century 18ct gold pocket watch that was bequeathed to George by a friend who knew of his passion for watches also features in our forthcoming sale. It is offered at £1400-1800.
Lyon & Turnbull’s Watch Auctions department is a dynamic one with significant expertise, hosting diverse watch auctions across the U.K. featuring fine, rare, modern and vintage timepieces. Highlights from recent auctions include a rare Rolex Daytona 6263 that sold for £62,500 in October 2021 and an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak that achieved £106,250 (incl premium).
SARAH FERGUSSON | HEAD OF WATCHES
0141 333 1992