Thomas Earnshaw – British brand ?

Browsing though old magazines at the barbers this weekend I stumbled across another “British” brand – Thomas Earnshaw.

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Getting home I did a little digging and discovered a website ( http://www.thomas-earnshaw.com/pages/thomas-earnshaw-1749-1829 ) full of British horological history. Was this a secret I had somehow missed?

THOMAS EARNSHAW (1749-1829)

Born on 4 February at Ashton under Lyne, Lancashire near Manchester, England.

Thomas Earnshaw is revered as a legend and pioneer in the field of Horology. Born in Manchester, England in 1749, he was celebrated for his work in refining, and improving upon the Marine Chronometers of the era. It was those Marine Chronometers, crucial to the journeys taken by the boats in the Royal Navy as they circled the globe during a golden era in English history of science and exploration. None more so than Chronometer no. 506, carried by HMS Beagle which carried Charles Darwin on his journey around the world to inspire his breakthrough study of evolution, “On The Origin of Species”. Lauded for his work with marine chronometers, Earnshaw also embraced the challenge of developing clocks for use in Observatories such as those in Greenwich and Armagh and examples of his exquisite work can be seen in museums and auction houses around the world. It is this pioneering spirit to further the science of horology, coupled with a drive for excellence in craftsmanship that is at the heart of the Earnshaw timepiece which is available for the watch connoisseur and enthusiast alike.

Unfortunately, it is the usual false trail. The brand Earnshaw is owned by Dartmouth Brands Ltd. Dartmouth in turn is owned by a Hong Kong company where they have a manufacturing plant.They “Swiss Made” claim also seems a little mis-leading.

The one positive that can be taken from this company is they are trying to sell a “British heritage” which they clearly believe is something that is marketable.

Bremont Jaguar watches – Channel 4

This evening I was enjoying a nice programme on Channel 4 about the building of new Jaguar E-types light weights. Then about half way through they start to discuss the “gifts” the buyers will receive with these £1.2m cars and off they go to a British watch manufacturer – Bremont.

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So if you like cars as well as watches ( a common symptom ) then the programme is well worth seeing. It’s title is “Inside Jaguar: Making a Million Pound Car”.

Robert Loomes – Gurkha Watch update – Daily Telegraph

Initially created for an Everest expedition,

this elegant new range is now raising funds for the

Nepal relief fund

James Gurney

By James Gurney

May 22, 2015 10:47
A gurka on the Everest expedition wearing a Robert Loomes watch
A gurka on the Everest expedition wearing a Robert Loomes watch

A gurka on the Everest expedition wearing a Robert Loomes watch

A gurka on the Everest expedition wearing a Robert Loomes watch
Picture: Alun Richardson

Quoting Rabbie Burns is not the best way to introduce a story on Robert Loomes & Co, Lincolnshire’s determinedly English watchmaker, but “the best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men. Gang aft agley,” seems fitting, as what was a simple plan to raise funds for the Mountain Trust and the Gurkha Welfare Trust has become a somewhat more serious endeavour. Loomes & Co sent a batch of watches off to Everest with a party from the Royal Gurkha Regiment, who were planning to climb the world’s tallest mountain as part of the 200th anniversary since the first Gurkha battalion was raised in India.

Loomes’ interest lay in the company’s use of (extensively) reworked Smiths movements in their Robin watches, Smiths having famously sponsored the 1953 expedition to Everest which saw Edmund Hillary and Tenzig Norgay conquer the summit. The catalyst, however, was a chance encounter with the chairman of the Mountain Trust, Charles Malcolm-Brown. He offered Robert Loomes the opportunity to send watches to Everest as part of the Gurkha expedition and on March 10th the watches were officially handed over at Stamford Town Hall. The watches use 19 jewel, manual-wind, Smiths movements that have been completely stripped and re-built with re-frosted and gilded plates as well as lighter “cold weather” lubrication, adjusted for running at -20 and -40 degrees.

Sadly, events overtook the expedition in the shape of the disastrous series of earthquakes and aftershocks that have devastated Nepal over the past few weeks. The team were already above Camp 2 on the Everest massif and climbing to 7,000m when the quake struck. The subsequent avalanche stranded them and other groups above the effectively impassable Khumbu Glacier.

After co-ordinating the helicopter rescue of their own party and everyone above them on the mountain, the Gurkha team helped lead the relief work at base camp. Once the team finally return, two of the watches will be auctioned on behalf of the Mountain Trust and the Gurkha Welfare Trust – both organisations that are well-placed to help deliver aid and relief to the mountain communities so hard-hit by the recent quakes.

In the meantime Robert Loomes has set up a raffle page to raise funds, the prize being an Everest Expedition watch: visit the website for details on how to enter.

The First Watches To Account For Leap Seconds, From Hoptroff London – Hodinkee

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The calendar complication is one of the more commonly seen complications in mechanical wristwatches. One thing they don’t do is keep track of leap years where an extra day is added to February. To correctly show February’s leap day, you would need a perpetual calendar complication in your watch, which is comparatively much more complicated, and much more expensive than a normal calendar complication. Beyond leap days and years, there are leap seconds. Leap seconds are applied to coordinated universal time on an occasional basis, to account for a small irregularity in the Earth’s orbit. What if you wanted to take the accuracy of your watch one step further, and keep track of leap seconds? Then you definitely need a Hoptroff watch.

British-made watches W- the journal

British-made watches are back (at last)!

By : Olivier Müller
Published in : WtheJournal.com
05.20.2015

A few British watchmakers have set up business in Switzerland. Recognized for their talent, they have inspired a young creative generation, who have chosen to remain in the UK and champion their fondness for “British Made” timepieces.
By : Olivier Müller
Published in : WtheJournal.com
05.20.2015

All eyes are on Switzerland, as the models shown at Baselworld gradually arrive in stores, on the United States, where the Apple Watch is keeping pundits on their toes, and on France, where Lip is breathing new life into its fascinating and eventful history.

But where does Britain stand in all this? Although a nation with an illustrious watchmaking past, it is certainly not grabbing any industry headlines, despite leaving a deeper mark than many of its continental rivals. For the British watchmaking industry is currently thriving. The number of British-made brands has rocketed over the last 10 years, as has their numbers of fans, to such an extent that an annual watch exhibition (Salon QP) now takes place in London.

Fine British-made watches

George Daniels is the man who paved the way. One of the last representatives of traditional fine watchmaking, born just after the First World War and 100% self-taught, he was a brilliant inventor and produced some extremely rare masterpieces that now fetch astronomical prices.

His disciple Roger Smith, also a subject of Her Majesty, carried on the tradition. Although Smith still lives on the Isle of Man, some of his fellow countrymen left long ago for Switzerland, Stephen Forsey of Greubel Forsey being one of the best known examples. But he is not the only one.

For the past 12 years, Peter Speake-Marin (born Peter Neville Speake) has been a leading light in fine mechanical watchmaking with his quintessentially British-style models, such as the Piccadilly. Arnold & Son (also based in Switzerland) is a brand belonging to La Joux-Perret Manufacture that pays a powerful tribute to the achievements of watchmaker and inventor John Arnold, born in Cornwall in the south of England, in 1736.

They are akin to Robert Loomes in spirit. This English watchmaker, who set up business in 1991, only offers limited edition timepieces in very traditional designs. He has preferred to remain in Britain. This is also true of his counterpart Peter Roberts, a watchmaker with 45 years of experience in the industry, who has given us grand complication timepieces, no less, driven by Valjoux 88 movements. Incidentally, his hybrid Anglo-Swiss pieces do not carry any indication of origin (neither Swiss nor British Made).

Popular British brands

Despite their diversity, these talented watchmakers all cater to the fine watchmaking market, which is elitist by nature. Other brands have therefore concentrated on offering more affordable ranges. And there are many of them, all resolutely British and increasingly popular with connoisseurs.

The most prominent of these is Bremont. When Nick and Giles’s father died in an aviation accident, the two brothers dropped everything to found Bremont in tribute to their father, who loved fine watches. Their surname, unsurprisingly, is “English”.

For over 10 years, their brand has kept others, such as Breitling and Bell & Ross, on their toes in the pilot watches segment. The price range for these timepieces (from 3,000 to 4,000 Swiss francs, on average) makes them a closer competitor to Bell & Ross than Breitling. To further highlight its uniqueness, Bremont has recently replaced the “Swiss Made” on its models with a proudly proclaimed “British Made”. Even if, like all the best chronometers, they are still certified by the COSC!

In the footsteps of Bremont

Other brands without Bremont’s stature are coming forward to ensure a safe future for British watchmaking. Most of these businesses are “millennials”, born in the 21st century. And they all mark the rebirth of the British watchmaking industry.

Meridian, for example, uses Unitas movements. Its two British founders launched the business in 2011 with models selling at around 5,000 Swiss francs. They are distinctive for their modern look, featuring oversized hands and proportionately large cases. Their approach is very different to that of Pinion Watches, a relatively new brand launched in 2013 by Piers Barry. We might ask about Mr. Barry’s watchmaking credentials—in fact, he has none. He was (and still is) the owner of a web agency. His designs, such as the Axis, are understated three-hand watches targeting the local market or fans of British-made timepieces.

Schofield is a young business cut from the same cloth. Launched by Giles Ellis in 2011, it produces three-hand watches stamped with the words “Sussex & England” in tribute to a tradition rooted in the sport of cricket. The brand sits in the 2,000 to 3,000 franc segment and uses ETA movements. So where does the name Schofield come from? Its inventor openly admits that he hasn’t the faintest idea! In short, there is no brand history and the products must speak for themselves. Suffice it to say that Schofield’s success is contingent on its buyers literally falling in love with its timepieces, for the brand is struggling for recognition beyond the circle of British watch connoisseurs, and its profile is correspondingly low.

At the end of the day, these brands are carrying on the legacy of others such as Accurist and Rotary, British watchmakers who use Swiss movements but most of whom never managed to successfully negotiate the advent of quartz. The new generation has kept us waiting, but now it has arrived, the British watchmaking scene is more vibrant than ever before.

Watchseekers Forum

I innocently posted a link to this blog on the Bremont section of Watchseekers forum, thinking if a reader was interested in the Bremont brand they might like to read about other British brands.

I went to the forum today to discover I have been banded from the forum for “Unwanted content”.  Clearly the “community” is more commercial than I thought.

IWI Watches

One company I am a little guilty of ignoring is IWI, this is probably because their press releases tend to highlight the successes of their motorsport ambassadors, rather than their watches. This is a shame as they offer a distinctive and handsome range.

This is what they say about themselves.

IWI Watches is the realisation of a passion for English watches, a love of English craftsmanship, a commitment to the best of British engineering and the presentation of exceptional quality.

IWI Watches are English luxury watches of the highest quality, individually handmade from perfectly engineered parts, in house, in England. Our watches, designed and crafted with inspiration from a history of over three hundred years of English watchmaking, recognise the 17th Century horological founders who led the world with their creativity, passion for excellence and engineering brilliance, putting not just England but Great Britain on the global horological map.

The crown sat proudly at 12 o’clock and the classic dial show our dedication to the purity of watch design. IWI Watches celebrate beauty and precision paying equal homage to both the pocket watch and the stop watch, each used over hundreds of years to mark events in history and moments of great human achievement. This unique watch case design is unconventional and yet obvious, conveniently ambidextrous and harmoniously balanced.

IWI Watches are seen at motor racing circuits around the world, on and off the track. IWI has a heritage of being at the heart of motorsport, a sport where every second is important. IWI Watches can be seen on some of the finest racing machinery in the world, on the wrist of F1 drivers and club racers alike.

The Britain Collection – Specifications

Gents Specifications

Gents:

  • Hand Made in England
  • Swiss Automatic winding twenty-five jewel ETA 2824-2 movement finished to IWI specifications
  • Stainless Steel Case
  • Hand Made Louisiana Aligator, Stingray or Python Strap
  • Stainless Steel Deployments Clasp
  • Sapphire Crystal Glass
  • Luminous Super-LumiNova Hour Markers and Hands
  • Diameter 41mm Depth 11mm

Chronograph Specifications

Chronograph:

  • Hand Made in England
  • Swiss Automatic winding Valljoux 7750
  • Stainless Steel Case
  • Handmade Integrated Leather Strap
  • Stainless Steel Buckle
  • Sapphire Crystal Glass
  • Luminous Super-LumiNova Hour Markers and Hands
  • Diameter 45mm Depth 17mm

Gents Specifications

Ladies:

  • Hand Made in England
  • Swiss Quartz Movement
  • Stainless Steel Case
  • Hand Made Louisiana Alligator or Stingray Strap
  • Stainless Steel Deployments Clasp
  • Sapphire Crystal Glass
  • Diameter 30mm Depth 9mm

The Fusion of English Craftsmanship and British Technology

IWI Watches are individually hand made in England using the latest precision technology at every step to design and create these modern classics, combined with the finest materials and components. Each of the cases is machined from solid to IWI’s exacting standards in a workshop local to our base.

Every IWI Watch passes through a master watchmaker’s hands. He finishes each assembly personally, tests and calibrates each and every watch and the final step is in passing the watch to our CEO for signing the certificate that accompanies each watch.

Every watch has an individually numbered case which is machined from the very high quality stainless steel, gold, rose gold or other precious metal, this is then hand finished. Our movements are the finest quality chronometer standard Swiss Automatic movements which are used in all the Gents watches. Swiss quartz movements are fitted in the Ladies watches. Our scratch-resistant sapphire crystals are of exceptional quality.

With the incorporation of craftsmanship and the latest technology combined with IWI’s unwavering high standards, the renaissance of English watchmaking is safe on the wrist of IWI Watches, now globally promoting all that is thoroughly British in pure quality and the highest standards of design. Unique, exciting, dynamic, creative craftsmanship fusing heritage with modernity, IWI is more than time itself.

Roger Smith – Hodinkee Interview

Interview: A Collector’s Discussion With Roger Smith — HODINKEE // // http://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-2/html/container.html

The origin of Roger Smith’s watchmaking career is well known. He studied at the Manchester School of Horology and while there George Daniels visited his school – an experience which considerably shaped Smith’s life. He graduated in 1989 and won the British Horological Institute’s Bronze medal for the most outstanding student in his final year. Upon graduating, armed with Daniels’ book “Watchmaking” as his guide, Smith set out to build a watch by himself. After two years of hard work, Smith had created a handmade pocket watch with a tourbillon and a detent escapement. He visited Daniels to show him the watch with the hope that he could become Daniels’ apprentice. Daniels called it a good first attempt, but not good enough. Smith returned to his watch bench and spent the next five years on his second attempt (this time adding a perpetual calendar). Smith refined and refined until he felt he could find no way to improve the watch. He visited Daniels again, but this time his watch was good enough to win over the master watchmaker and thus Smith became George Daniels’ one and only apprentice.

Instead of retelling this familiar territory, our interview begins with this point in Smith’s career.

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Smith had done restoration work for a dealer in London, and this dealer had a customer looking for a bespoke pocket watch. The customer heard about Smith and decided to give Smith his first commission. This pocket watch, Smith’s third, was therefore his first sale.

So your third pocket watch had a 15-second remontoir

Watch 101
Remontoir d’Egalite
rementoir
Remontoire: from the French, remontoir d’egalité, a device used to provide constant force to the escapement. 

, Peto cross detent escapement

Watch 101

Escapement
escapement
The escapement is a mechanism that translates rotational energy into lateral impulses. The tick-tock sound you hear when holding a watch to your ear is from the escapement. The pallet fork locks and unlocks with the escape wheel at each vibration of the balance wheel.

, and an up/down mechanism. What is the Peto cross detent escapement? You can see it in Chamberlain’s book It’s About Time.  It is, if you like, a “purist’s detent escapement” because the purist would say that as the classic spring (which traditionally sits on the side of the detent) flicks back, it could potentially destabilize the detent. So you have the classic spring on the opposite side of the detent. The detent then comes into the center; the classic spring comes into the center, and it does all the work, but doesn’t influence the detent. So it’s a real purist’s escapement.

And it’s described as having an up/down mechanism…do you mean a power reserve

Watch 101
Power Reserve
reserve
Mechanical watches are powered by a coiled spring known as a mainspring. As this spring uncoils, the amount of time that the watch can run diminishes. This remaining amount of time is referred to as the power reserve, winding indication, or up/down indication. An indication turning through an angle or a linear indicator appears on the dial to display the power reserve, similar to a car’s fuel gauge.

indicator? Yes.

You studied using Daniels’ book Watchmaking, and there are multiple editions, so did the later editions evolve as a result of Daniels and you working together?

No. No involvement. I think he just updated it with a few more photographs and that’s all really. He also put the Millennium wristwatch in there, which we were making.

The Millennium series was made using the first Omega movements off the production line. So, what did you guys do to them?

We made the cases, dials

Watch 101
Dial
dial
A dial is a visual interface to a watch, displaying a variety of information produced by the movement.

, hands

Watch 101

Hands
split
Hands are used in conjunction with a dial to indicate time. They are thin pieces of metal attached to a center point of rotation.

, and the automatic rotor… and the calendar mechanism. George designed a calendar

Watch 101

Calendar
calendar
A calendar complication displays the date in a number of different ways. A simple date display will show a number representing the day of the month in an aperture on the watch dial. Other calendar complications will show the month, year, and day of the week. Most calendar complications need to be manually corrected at the end of months that don’t have 31 days. Annual calendars correct themselves automatically. Perpetual calendars take this a step further by correcting themselves for leap years automatically.

function for it, because it had the [date] window at 3 o’clock, so he designed a very simple but very clever little system to operate the hand.So [the date] changed from a window to a hand?

Yes, I mean it was brilliant really. So simple! Only George could come up with an idea like that. We ended up finishing the movements, frosting it, putting some shape, literally just with a file, into some of the plates. The watch was really just created to celebrate George’s amazing achievement; that he had managed to get this escapement industrialized.

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You were involved in making two unique wristwatches called “Blue” and “White” that are rectangular-cased tourbillon wristwatches fitted with the Daniels Co-axial escapement and a calendar complication, designed by Dr. George Daniels and signed Daniels London. Are these Daniels watches or yours? Or did you help him make them as his apprentice?

Well I think George got these orders six months or a year before I was due to leave him. I think he did it to help me on my way really. He found the clients, he designed the watch, and it helped me on the way as I was starting my Series 1. It just softened the blow [of transitioning] to working on my own again.

Your Series 1 was a series of twelve rectangular watches, correct? Can you talk about that watch? What was the movement, etc.?

We only ever made nine in the end. At that time I had very limited equipment. I was still using George’s workshop for the jig boring and so on. I bought in a train of wheels, escapement, balance wheel, and hand set mechanism. And then I built the plates, designed the retrograde calendar mechanism, and made the dials, hands, case, and created a watch around those components.  Basically it was a way in for me, because I didn’t have the expertise then to create a full watch, nor the equipment.

I was struggling with the decision – do I just buy a movement, put my name on it and sell it? Many people said I should just do that.  But I was wrestling with that, and I wasn’t really happy with that idea. So this was, for me, a nice entry point.

For your Series 1, I read that there were supposed to be three pieces made for the Onely Collection [in collaboration with designer Theo Fennell]. Were those the three that weren’t made?

No, they were made.

Okay, so of the nine, three were for the Onely Collection, and six were “normal.”

So, looking at the timeline from your website, in 2006 it mentions you completed Unique Commission #3, a tourbillon wristwatch. Is this called #3 because Blue and White were #1 and #2?

No, I got some orders early on. I got orders to make three tourbillons. In those early days I was growing the business by the seat of my pants, trying to keep money coming in. I got three orders. The first was a grande date, which is [Unique Commission] #1.

It says 2009 on [the timeline for] that one.

Yes, it took a long time to finish, because I was struggling with the mechanism.

Number 3 was a simpler one and that ended up being produced first. And number 2 I will be finishing in about two weeks time.  There were issues with the technical specifications that the client wanted, which we have debated for a number of years. There’s also a 4th commission [produced in 2010].

So you’ve only produced four bespokes?

Yes.

In 2004, you launched Series 2. Which escapement do they use?

They’re all co-axial.

Series_2_movement

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Did you switch from the “Daniels Co-axial” to your improved “Smith Co-axial”?

The Millenniums were the slimline version. So I had experience with that escapement, and I felt that George’s original (the traditional pinion with two co-axial wheels) was better. So I went with that version for the Series 2. But I’ve now evolved that escapement so now we’ve got a single wheel and so on.

I started using just a very traditional Daniels Co-axial. So it’s a small traditional pinion and then two co-axial wheels, but they were separate at that point. And they went into the first Series 2. And I think I produced the single wheel in about 2010.

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So all the ones from 2010 onwards were single wheel?

Yes.

And even today?  If someone ordered one today, that would be a single wheel?

Yes.

Throughout the movie [“The Watchmaker’s Apprentice”], it mentions that Daniels mastered 32 of the 34 trades involved in watchmaking – so which two were missing?

Balance spring making and engraving.

Do you currently do all 32 trades in your watchmaking?

Yes, we do actually, yes! We rarely have to make jewels. We buy stock jewels and so on. But, for example, this tourbillon that I’m just working on, I had to use a special jewel for that.

So you typically buy jewels, mainspring, balance spring, sapphires, and straps.  But that’s it?

Screws.

Do you make some of the screws?

We do have to make case screws and things like that. Some of the odd-scaled ones.

How many of those 32 would you say that you’ve mastered?

Gosh, you know we do a very good job now. We are highly professional in what we do. I’m very proud that we’re running a really, really tight workshop. Years ago, we all had our own skill set, and we’d pass one watch from one watchmaker to another. The watches were very, very good, but I knew that there was room for improvement. So about three years ago I started a very intensive training, teaching everyone how to make dials, hands, cases and all other aspects of the movement that they weren’t doing. So now everyone is doing brilliant work, they really are. Fantastic work.

So pretty much there with all 32?

Yes, without a doubt.

That’s excellent!

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Again, in the movie it’s mentioned that Daniels believed that you should not see the hand of the maker in a watch? Is that accurate, did he really believe that?

Yes, without a doubt.

Do you have the same philosophy?

Yes. But then you can look at the engraving. The engraving of the mechanisms is all hand done, and each dial is completely different because of that. So each watch still tells its story. You can still see the handwork. The beveling will be different on every single watch. Sometimes it will be deeper on some than others and so on. It varies.

You produce watches without the use of repetitive or automatic tools, is that correct?

We use CNC, which I guess is automatic.

So it’s basically CNC plus hand operated machines and tools.

Yes.

What would you describe as your signature aesthetic elements? One that stands out are your scalloped arrow hands, which are beautiful. Would you say that you have other ones?

I suppose really the hands are the key feature. The English-finished movements anybody could do and it would be great if they did.

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About the 35th Anniversary Daniels watch. To get down to it, you basically made the 35th Anniversary watch completely yourself. You designed it, obviously based off his aesthetic. But you designed it and built it all.

Yes, George was there to look at designs and tell me if it was right or wrong, so it’s very much a Daniels. By then I’d known George for several years so it was becoming second nature anyway. What I did struggle with was when I had to make my next watch, I forget which it was, I struggled a bit to get back to my own designs because I had become “Daniels-ified.”  It was quite a funny period really.

So your production of ten watches per year is currently, and for a while now has been, a mix of yours (Series 2) and 35th Anniversary pieces?

Yes.

So obviously at a certain point, Daniels got to the point where his hands weren’t steady enough to make watches anymore. Was that around the Blue and White time?

It was just before then. When I was building the Millenniums with him, I was on my own for the last year and a half, almost two years. By then he was in his mid-70s.

Is the co-axial still patented, or has the patent run out?

Yes, it has run out. It ran out before Omega got interested actually.

Why don’t more people use it then? Do you know who uses it?

Myself and Omega.

That’s it?

I think it is because it’s difficult to make, and more importantly it’s down to marketing.

Can you imagine this situation if Rolex said “okay, we’re going to shift over to the co-axial.” Suddenly it would be like saying, “Omega is better than us.” It’s never going to happen. It’s a shame because really it’s stifling horology. It’s stifling progression.

It’s a shame because really it’s stifling horology. It’s stifling progression.

– Roger Smith on the lack of widespread adoption of the coaxial escapement.

Do you feel like if a small maker, a similar watchmaker to you making say 10 pieces a year, said “You know, that is a better escapement. I’m going to start using it” you would be fine with that?

Great, yes. In any case, I can’t stop them!

But would you feel like it would be like ripping off your scalloped hands or something?

No, not at all. It’s there to be used by everyone. It would be brilliant, in fact!

You talked about some of your improvements to the co-axial. Do you want to go into more detail because there was a series of them essentially?

There were a few different types. In 2010 there was the single wheel.

Which combined the two wheels into one piece with two levels.

That’s right. It had a great benefit because suddenly you’re removing all the inaccuracies that you’ll get by having two wheels pushed onto the same arbor and trying to orient them properly. And it improved performance quite drastically.

Daniels_Single_Wheel_Escapement

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Then the light one came…the current one.

That was 2012? The second generation with a lighter design?

I was just again trying to improve it, to improve performance. A dramatic response. And we were able to drop the mainspring, which is good – it prolongs the life of the mechanism. It takes away the wear.

adsfadfads

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By “drop the mainspring,” you mean?

In terms of power. You can use a weaker mainspring. Less wear on the mechanism. Just better all around.

How did you make it lighter? Was it reducing material? Changing metal?

The first one had two rims. And what I did on the second was to make very long teeth for the outside teeth and it worked very well.

The GREAT Britain watch is a unique piece. Has it been sold?

No.

Will it be for sale at some point?

I don’t know actually. It was an honor to make The GREAT Britain and right now, it is traveling the world representing the best of British creativity and innovation. Also, I don’t actually have a watch and in fact I never have a piece to show people, so I think I would like to retain it!

Movement-wise, is it essentially the same as your Series 2?

Yes. Stripped of the up/down mechanism.

Ballpark how many Series 2 pieces have you made?

Maybe about 60 pieces over a 10 year period – or almost 10 years.


On the future…

Do you want to talk at all about future watches coming out? What teaser do you want to give us?

I have another development of the co-axial over and above what we already have. So I’m redesigning the series 2 around the new co-axial and bringing out a small series of pieces. I see it as a bit of a rebirth really. That’s the idea of it. New escapement, new movement. I’ve learned a hell of a lot over the past 10 years. My ideas of movements have changed and how to design them. But what has not changed is my commitment to producing the same number of pieces. Keeping to 10 pieces a year.

Almost everybody wants to have a legacy.  Would you say that you hope one of your legacies, other than your great watches, would be to establish the Isle of Man as a center of watchmaking excellence?

It’s great to be able to carry on George’s work. What I’m also keen to do is to show that watches can be made again in Britain.  There’s this idea that it has died and gone away, but from my first watch, the Series 1, the idea behind that was just to say we still can make watches in Britain.

Simon_Park_-_Workshop_2008_188

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How many people currently work in your workshop, and what do they do?

There are eight of us. One is Caroline, my wife, who does accounts and emails and keeps me on the straight and narrow. We have another guy, an engineer, who uses the CNC to supply the watchmakers with a good proportion of the parts. And the rest is made up of watchmakers and we are all responsible for building watches.

I’d like to thank Roger Smith very much for taking the time to speak with me. It was a very enjoyable chat and I hope you enjoyed reading it!

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