Some great photos in this piece from the Salon QP website
Something we’ve almost never seen is a watch made by Roger W Smith for sale online. And it can be yours for… £115,000. Pictures from WatchXchange
Ownership of a Roger W Smith timepiece represents the ultimate horological ambition of many, many serious collectors around the world. But given the tiny numbers of watches that emerge each year from Smith’s Isle of Man studio, and the lengthy waiting list involved, very few people will ever get their hands on one.
Which makes the appearance of one for sale online a rather interesting occurrence – in fact, we thought it may be an internet first, though a comment from the PuristsPro here suggests a bit of precedent (well, if anyone should know…). This Roger W Smith Series 2 has just shown up at the recently launched (and evidently well-connected) online seller WatchXchange, whose founder we profiled in QP magazine in November (read it here). It is priced on the website at an undoubtedly hefty £115,000.
The Series 2 is Smith’s “production watch” (he also creates unique pieces on a bespoke basis), but don’t imagine series production amounts to volume: such is the painstaking nature of the work in Smith’s studio, fewer than 10 models emerge each year. It’s one of the rarest watches in the world.
Smith began planning the Series 2 in 2002. At that time he had been working under the guidance of his mentor, the great Dr George Daniels, for several years, slowly mastering the 32 watchmaking skills required to make a watch according to the “Daniels Method”. His ambition was to translate these skills into the creation of a “modern, skill-based, high grade British wrist watch”, but it would be four years before a finished model would be created, with a prototype produced in early 2006. The model for sale here is dated December 2006, according to the engraving on its movement plate, making it one of the earliest Series 2 models to have been created.
That movement represents so much of what makes a Roger W Smith watch special. Smith took his inspiration from the pocket watches produced in the great age of British horology, by the likes of Tompion, Graham and Arnold. It demonstrates what Smith describes as a quintessentially British style of watchmaking, characterized by the strong three-quarter plate that occupies much of the view, by the depth of the mechanism’s architecture, and by the understated frosted finish, contrasting with black polished steel parts.
And, of course, there’s the small matter of the Daniels Co-Axial Escapement. George Daniels invented the Co-Axial Escapement as a longer-lasting, lubricant-free alternative to the Swiss lever escapement, eventually selling it to Omega, where it now forms the brand’s most important technical pillar. Only Smith is allowed to employ the system outside Omega. In 2010 he delivered his improvement upon Daniels’ design, the Single Wheel Co-Axial, now found in the Series 2 – though as an older watch, this model contains the first generation version.
The case and dial further demonstrate the extreme hand-worked skills of the Daniels/Smith style of watchmaking: a variety of engine-turned dial patterns, and every element cut, engraved or sculpted by hand.
This is simply one of the finest watches in the world, embodying the very rarest horological qualities. And a hell of an opportunity for someone with extremely deep pockets. Though whether it’s really worth the readies WatchXchange is asking… well, the market will determine.
The watch is listed on WatchXchange here, and is offered with original box and paperwork. It can be viewed by appointment in central London.