Roger W. Smith to announce significant step forward for British watchmaking at Salon QP

Roger W. Smith, the only maker of entirely British watches and movements, is set to announce his first range of watches.

Presented by Phillips, the preview at Salon QP (12-14 November) will also feature a rare showing of Roger Smith’s unique GREAT Britain watch.

“It is almost the fifteenth anniversary of the first production wrist watches issued by the Roger W. Smith Studio in 2001; namely the Series 1. Since then, having first developed and then stayed true to our ethos of hand-crafting all components within our studio, we have produced just 80 pieces”, explains Roger Smith. For me, it has been a wonderful fifteen years of incremental development and exploration of my design philosophy. Each piece has been a unique and important step on that journey.”

Some of those key steps have included Roger’s landmark development, in 2010, of a single-wheel version of George Daniels’ co-axial escapement. This improvement enabled more accurate escapements which ultimately led to some slight improvements in actual timekeeping.

In 2012, a further milestone was achieved with Roger Smith’s radical lightening (by 23%) of the escape wheel resulting in further improvements to timekeeping, due to the faster acceleration and less abrupt deceleration of the escape wheel.

This iteration of Roger Smith’s new escapement was showcased in 2013’s GREAT Britain watch which has been travelling the world over the last 18 months to help celebrate the best of British innovation and craftsmanship.

Roger continues: “Looking for further technical improvements, and encouraged by new machining processes which we developed for the escape wheel of the GREAT Britain, I decided to scale down the escapement by as much as a third in order to explore any further benefits to timekeeping.”

This led to a problem and, in the great tradition of watchmaking, its solution proved to be the genesis of a much greater step for British watchmaking…

“The problem was that the new escapement would not fit into my existing Series 2 movement!” continues Roger Smith, “so, after much head scratching, I decided to design a completely new mechanism to house my latest escapement”.

It was this lengthy redesign phase which also caused Roger to take stock of his past catalogue of Unique Piece designs – and led to the realisation that the last decade of horological endeavour had created a large enough body of work to evolve a new range of watches.

The Series 1, 2, 3 and 4 represents, for Roger Smith something of a renaissance in his approach to watchmaking.

It also effectively enshrines the watches he has produced to date as uniquely important stepping stones towards this new approach.

Perhaps most importantly, however, it represents another significant step in the resurgence of Great Britain as a centre of excellence for watchmaking, for this is the first range of watches to be produced in the British Isles and is all the more notable for coming from such a tiny watchmaking company based in the Isle of Man.

And once again, it is driven by the uniquely British provenance of Roger’s in-house movements: “Once the individual watch specification had been finalised, I decided to base all the pieces around the same train of wheels, NEW escapement, winding and hand set mechanisms but with each watch having its own individual base plate to house the watches’ particular complication” explains Roger.

These completely revised Series 1 and 2 watches are to be accompanied by Roger’s first new Series for a decade; the 3 (which has a calendar movement) and the 4 (a more complicated calendar watch), which will complete the range.

For now, details are being kept secret, but the prototypes are to be unveiled at Salon QP (12-14 November) and presented by the watch department of Phillips.

Paul Maudsley of Phillips said: ”We are very excited to have Roger W. Smith, one of the greatest living watch makers show his wonderful new prototypes on our stand at this years Salon QP”. He continued; “At Phillips we represent many exciting artists across many different fields and Roger’s watchmaking skills are as relevant and important as any other art form”

Roger is also delighted to have this new milestone presented by Phillips: “Rare and exceptional watches are a relatively new collecting category at Phillips and responds to the ever-increasing need for collectors around the world to access horological scholarship and guidance. Phillips is rapidly establishing itself as the number one auction house for watches”.

Roger will also be providing a unique Q&A session at a special showing of The Watchmaker’s Apprentice which will be screened on the 13th November. The film, produced by DAM Productions and distributed by Bulldog was released on 24th September and has immediately risen to No 2 in the iTunes documentary chart.

Phillips presentation of Roger W. Smith can be visited at GF05 on the ground floor.

British Horological Institute Grant

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The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has today announced significant National Lottery funding to help train a new generation of clock and watchmakers in the UK.
HLF has awarded the British Horological Institute (BHI) – a membership organisation for people who make, repair, collect and sell clocks, watches and other timepieces – a grant to create a National Centre for Horology at its Upton Hall base, near Newark in Nottinghamshire.

The Centre, due for opening in 2018, will address the nationwide shortage of horologists by creating new training and workshop facilities in a derelict stable block and glass house, allowing the BHI to double the number of students it trains a year.

Historic England has included Upton Hall – a Grade II* listed building – in its 2015 Heritage at Risk Register.

HLF has earmarked £2,852,600 for the project including a Development Grant of £160,300, which the BHI will use to progress plans, produce a fully costed proposal, apply for planning permission, and submit a second round application, when the full grant amount will be released.

Dudley Giles, Chief Executive Officer of the BHI, said: “This takes us one step closer to the establishment of a National Centre for Horology at Upton Hall. It is also one step closer to securing the future of Upton Hall itself, which is an important and historic building.”

The Centre will be open daily and the public will be able to view students at work and visit exhibitions with key pieces from the BHI collection, which includes clocks going back to the 17th century, watches such as the timepiece carried by Captain Scott on his ill-fated expedition to the Antarctic, and the first two Speaking Clocks.

The historic main building at Upton Hall will also be developed and access to the collection will increase significantly with volunteer support and extended opening hours. The Centre anticipates thousands of visitors annually, including hundreds of schoolchildren for whom special education areas will be set up. Collected from 1858, there are currently over 1,000 artefacts on display and stored in the reserve collection of the BHI, and as such it is unrivalled in the UK but currently only open for public view three times a year.

Sir Peter Luff, Chair of HLF, said: “From Big Ben’s tower and the Liver Building to the pocket watches and timepieces carried by great explorers, clocks and clockmaking have a long and proud history in the UK. Even as demand for these traditional skills rises, the number of people trained has gone into steep decline. That is why we saw a pressing need for this National Lottery investment which will ensure timepieces are made, serviced, repaired and conserved in this country for many years to come.”

Abby Wardill from Henley-on-Thames is a young watch assembler at Bremont Watch Company, a corporate member of the BHI. This leading British watchmaker sends its staff on BHI training courses. Abby said: “I was educated as an illustrator, but went into watchmaking because I love the intricate and beautiful nature of the work. Coming to these courses gives me an opportunity to learn more skills and start servicing and repairing watches.”

Robert Jenrick, who prior to being elected as MP for Newark was International Managing Director of the Decorative Arts division of Christie’s and as such responsible for the auction of clocks, said: “This is wonderful news for the industry and the wider area around Newark as it follows the opening of the National Civil War Centre, which was built with HLF support.”

Emma McClarkin, an East Midlands MEP with a portfolio on international trade, said: “It is well known that there is a dire shortage of training opportunities for watch and clockmakers around the world, particularly in Europe. The BHI already has an international reputation and links with our local universities. Now the creation of the National Centre for Horology sets the Institute on course to address the horology skill shortage, making sure that our watch and clockmaking expertise is passed on from generation to generation, just like our magnificent timepieces.”

Focus Consultants Partner Kevin Osbon, who lives just two miles from Upton Hall, led the creation of the long-term masterplan for the BHI and the consequent development of the initial phase one of the Saving Time project which has secured the HLF award. Kevin said: “Focus Consultants have worked closely with the BHI to create a long term sustainable solution for the Upton Hall estate and secure their future as one of the leading horological training establishments in the world. We are very pleased to hear that the HLF bid has been successful and are really looking forward to working with the BHI team to deliver phase one and then the overall masterplan over time.”

Garrick teams up with Andreas Strehler – updated

SalonQP have given some more details. These are the highlights :

Garrick teams up with Andreas Strehler

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In a cryptic tweet yesterday Garrick Watches announced they will be working on a new movement with Andreas Strehler. If like me you have never heard of him this is what they have to say on Wikipedia   Andreas Strehler

From this entry you will see  he is a pretty talented watchmaker his most recent recognition being  in 2013 he was awarded the Prix Gaïa of the International Museum of Horology (MIH) in La Chaux-de-Fonds in the category artesanat-création for his technical and artistic creations.

All will be revealed at the Salon QP in November.

Peter Roberts – Garrick

Here is a great article on Monochrome. An interview with David Brailsford the founder of Garrick Watches discussing his favorite watch. Two British brands in one story, happy days.

I suggest you look at the full article following this link. For anyone in a hurry a lot of it is below.

Link to Monochrome article

The Collector’s Series – David Brailsford and his Peter Roberts Concentrique Grand Complication

This week, on the Collector’s Series, we discover what it’s like to own a watch that, when released, was the first wristwatch to have all five hands all mounted on the same central axis. This unusual watch is called the Concentrique Grand Complication 5 and is the work of one of the greatest British watchmakers, Peter Roberts. Fitted with a superbly finished Valjoux 88 as a base, it boasts many complications, something that its owner, David from Garrick Watches, knows how to appreciate. And as usual, there is a story behind a watch, and here is David’s.

Peter Roberts is one of the great veterans of British Watchmaking. He has spent 45 years in the business having been the the first British student to attend the Swiss WOSTEP course (the Watches Of Switzerland Training and Education Program, which was founded in 1966 and is considered the basis for modern education in horology for professional watchmakers).  He has worked at IWC, Rolex, and more recently, British watch brand Bremont. This week we had the opportunity to talk to Garrick Watches founder, David Brailsford to understand why he cherishes his Peter Roberts Concentrique so very much. The Concentrique was Roberts first chronograph having created it at the tender age of 20. It was his graduation project at WOSTEP.  In 1972 it was the world’s first wristwatch with with five hands all mounted on the same central axis. It is without doubt a complicated timepiece, which at its core has a Valjoux 726 chronograph movement base (the new Concentrique has a Valjoux 88 as base movement).

David founded Garrick in 2014 and they manufacture fine watches in their dedicated facility in Norfolk, United Kingdom. The brand was born out of an innate need to patriotically champion home-grown talent and create a new chapter in British watchmaking history. This isn’t marketing hyperbole, but the understandable patriotic motivation of a team who wish to write their own chapter in Britain’s horological annals.

Peter Roberts Concentrique Grand Complication 5

When did you get into watches Dave? 

From an early age, I always had a fascination with mechanical objects, especially watches.

What was it about watches that intrigued you? 

I continue to find the near microscopic scale of components incredible, especially when you consider the way these tiny parts collaborate seamlessly to impart time. Indeed, I still marvel at the sight of a time-served watchmaker working at the bench, deftly manipulating tools. It is partly for this reason that I am enchanted by fine watchmaking.

Mr Roberts is a fascinating gentleman and has had a huge impact in the watch world, can you tell us more? 

Peter Roberts remains a watchmaker whom I greatly admire. He has trained some incredible watchmaking talents over the years, including Stephen Forsey, Peter Speake-Marin and our very own Simon Michlmayr. Furthermore, whilst these highly accomplished British watchmakers have all attended WOSTEP in Neuchâtel, Peter was the first, paving the way for his younger compatriots. Finally, despite having an impressive breadth of talents, he has retained a refreshing modesty and is a thoroughly decent gentleman.

When did you come to own the Concentrique?

I purchased my watch, number 002, in 2013. It remains one of my most prized possessions.

What was it about the Concentrique that caught your eye? 

I thought the watch was aesthetically stunning. Moreover, I adored the story which lay behind the Concentrique. Originally, Peter saw a watch in a reference book, equipped with five co-axially positioned hands whilst he was a student at WOSTEP.

Peter Roberts Concentrique Grand Complication 5

Peter spoke to his lecturer who said the watch was merely theoretical and had never been produced. It was this comment which spurred on Peter and led to him creating his 5-hand timepiece. The original featured a Valjoux 726 together with some Rolex components and Peter continues to wear this watch to this day. I would love to own this very watch.

What is your favourite feature of the watch? 

I adore the slender bezel and the beryllium bezel insert.

What’s inside the watch Dave?    

A new-old-stock Valjoux 88 (a moon-phase / triple calendar edition of the Valjoux 72) with unique Concentrique mechanism. The movement has been wonderfully reworked by Peter and the finishing is sublime.

Does it get much wrist time? 

Absolutely! I often wear the Concentrique and whilst I possess other watches, this is one of my favourites.

What is more important to you when buying a watch, brand heritage, accuracy or aesthetic? 

A watch may appeal to me for several reasons. It has to be aesthetically pleasing and deliver precision but, most of all, it has to engage with me on an emotional level. A timepiece should ignite passion in the wearer and make them smile every time they wear it.

What, if anything have you got your eye on next? 

I am a typical watch collector, there is never just one watch! I appreciate watches which allow me to see the balance at play and reveal a finely executed movement. There are two watches I am considering at the moment, the Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Gravity and the Breguet La Tradition. They both are wonderful examples of watches that engender passion and wonderfully reveal their Swiss lever escapements to glorious effect.

What three words would you use to describe your Peter Roberts Concentrique? 

Only three words! “Personal”, “craftsmanship” and “passion”.

Paulin – Glasgow Made

After reading the brief description of Paulin watch’s Glasgow based company in the Economia article I blogged on October 5th I had look at their website today.

At the moment their range all designed and assembled in Glasgow consists of variations three series, the C200, S75 and C50.

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C200

S75A-full-front

S75

C50D-1

C50

The one comment I would make is that the movement used according to their website are Miyota, so Japanese not Swiss as mentioned in the earlier article.

To see the full range visit their website Paulin Watches