Tag Archives: english watch

Garrick Regulator Update

As promised I contacted Garrick to see if they could give me more information about their new Regualtor model.


They are using a base Unitas but adding their own gear train, free-sprung balance and winding barrel. In reality is there not much left of the original movement.

They have been working on this for some time and mainly to show what they can do with standard movements.It’s to showcase their watchmaking.

They are only releasing a limited number because it takes some time to build. Remember they are not mass producing watches and everything is assembled and finished by hand or in-house including the hands, balance and gears.

Garrick is extremely busy right now and they have to have plans to produce realistic numbers. They also think it’s a truly unique watch and want customers to have something truly limited.

Pinion Axis Automatic- Upgrade

Pinion have announced a redesign and upgrade to their original AXIS AUTOMATIC collection of watches.
CMzRM4BW8AAMQyj

When PINION launched in 2013, we debuted with AXIS – a trio of watches available in steel, DLC and bronze. Since then, they’ve evolved their designs with the PURE and REVIVAL watches and have now revised the original line up to bring these in line our current and future releases.

The 2015 Axis will still be sized at 42mm but will take it’s dial reference directly from the graphic language of the R1969 and PURE timepieces. It’ll include a more detailed dial with applied indexes plus the case has been re-modeled to include our two-step supermodel bezel that was last seen on the R-1969.

The collection will be released later this year and will be available in the original form of steel, black and bronze – I’ll keep you updated with more news on this in the coming months.

Two further brands ….

The list of “British” watch brands keeps getting longer. Every time I look I find another. Well I’ve just found two.

rlt

The first RLT Watches would appear an honest attempt to market British watches at a reasonable price without relying on authenticity developed by brand strategists. Since 1987 they offer from their headquarters in Yorkshire a range of watches at very reasonable prices (£49 – £199) with a variety of quartz and mechanical movements.

You can find more information : RLT Watches

camden

The second, The Camden Watch Company, comes from the opposite end of the “brand stategist spectrum” in so much as at first glance their company seems almost entirely marketing driven. On the plus side their watches are again at the reasonable end of the price scale starting at £69 and reaching £110. The range also includes some women’s watches. The watches are designed in Camden and manufactured in the Far East. Their “Britishness” being further enhanced, according to the website, by the fact packaging is hand-stamped, our displays are handmade in our HQ and all our guarantees are printed, stamped and folded in London.

You can find out more information : Camden Watch Company

Garrick Hoxton sm302 – watch review by ESCAPEMENT

Seeing red

Angus Davies provides an in-depth review of the Garrick Hoxton sm302, available with a broad choice of dial options. However, it was the red dial option which provoked a reaction in this self-confessed grumpy 47 year-old.

Garrick Hoxton sm302

Middle-age sneaks up on the unsuspecting. I have become a grumpy 47 year-old, experiencing a sense of repeated irritation. Indeed, some aspects of modern life quite simply infuriate me. The world has seemingly gone mad.

If I venture into a supermarket and wish to pay for my goods, I am suddenly expected to morph into a checkout assistant and scan my own shopping. Moreover, as an impatient queue assembles behind me, I have to try and pack my shopping. This in itself may not sound much of an issue, but the shopping bags provided are so thin they have merged into one homogenous fusion of polythene and, try as I might, I can’t separate them.

Then, all of a sudden, my till displays a message enquiring of my age. Now I have to wait for human intervention, whilst the ever lengthening queue stares at me with a sense of disdain. I am clearly over 18 years of age and a bottle of Chianti does not constitute a matter of life and death, but automation dictates I now need to be inconvenienced further. The queue is getting longer and I could readily seek refuge in a case of Chianti such is the magnitude of my annoyance.

Is it just me, or has the world gone mad?

Take aeroplanes, I can think of no other area in life where it is considered acceptable to shoehorn adults into seats which are unduly small. The airlines health and safety gurus have decided a reasonable precaution is to warn passengers of the potential risk of deep vein thrombosis. Exercises are described within the inflight magazine, accompanied with small pictures my myopically impaired eyes can barely decipher. However, should I wish to stand and stretch, mitigating the risk of clots forming in my arteries, my actions will be met with ‘the look’ from an angry air hostess who has a trolley to wheel down the aisle, laden with ‘tat’ no self-respecting sane person would ever really consider purchasing.

Indeed, the very notion of customer service doesn’t exist at 30,000 feet. Should you show the merest of annoyance at the brusque service and rancid sandwich presented, you will be met with a strong rebuke. We now live in an age where disappointed customers are labelled potential air rage perpetrators. Don’t even dare complain unless you wish to be tasered.

Is it just me, or has the world gone mad?

The introduction of speed cameras seems well intentioned. However, if you ever look at drivers on the M6 in rush hour, they are not looking ahead watching the road, they are transfixed on the needles of their speedometers, expending huge amounts of energy to ensure their average speed over a given distance does not stray a couple of miles per hour over the limit.

With variable speed limits becoming de rigueur on our motorways, drivers panic as the prevailing maximum speed displayed on a sign is reduced by 10 miles per hour. All of a sudden the driver ahead performs a near emergency stop, anxiously fearing a further three points and resulting in numerous cars behind, swerving in his wake.

Is it just me, or has the world gone mad? You get the idea!

The fact is, many aspects of modern life make me angry. Wherever my eyes look there are elements of living in the modern world which irritate me, causing me to see red. However, whilst I saw red when first encountering a vibrantly hued Garrick Hoxton sm302, very different emotions came to the fore. This is a timepiece sporting a red dial which confers a striking appearance and justifies further discussion.

Garrick Hoxton sm302

In 2014, Garrick launched its inaugural watch, the Shaftesbury sm301. This timepiece represented a departure from the norm. While I am accustomed to seeing watches in the sub £4000 segment being mass produced, by virtue of Garrick’s size, the sm301 is made on a one-man, one-watch basis, typical of manufacturing high-end wristwatches.

Garrick Shaftesbury sm301

Garrick Shaftesbury sm301

It is this low-volume production method which has allowed Garrick to incorporate its own in-house free-sprung balance. The inclusion of a free-sprung balance proves incredibly labour intensive, necessitating much effort on the part of the watchmaker to fettle the balance wheel to run to the specified +3 seconds per day.

Recently, Garrick launched its second, simpler timepiece, the Hoxton sm302. While this watch does not include a free-sprung balance, which is reflected in the price, this model loses none of the hand craftsmanship and aesthetic allure of its older, costlier sibling, the Shaftesbury sm301.

Garrick Hoxton sm302

Recently, I had the good fortune to share a few calm weeks in the company of the new Hoxton sm302.

The dial

The first aspect of this particular Hoxton sm302 to arrest my attention was the dial colour. It is a vivid shade of red with a wonderful metallic lustre to its surface. The dial is machined with a series of concentric circles populating the periphery of the dial area.

Garrick Hoxton sm302

I suspect for some readers, the ebullient colour scheme may prove a tad too conspicuous and they may prefer more subdued shades. There is no need to worry, Garrick offer an array of dial options suiting a broad range of would-be buyers. I must confess, the red dial option worked for me and proved incredibly versatile, matching an array of shirts and jumpers and provoking comment wherever I chose to wear the watch.

Garrick Hoxton sm302

Unlike the sm301, where the dial includes a small seconds display, the sm302 presents the hours and minutes alone. This succinct presentation of the prevailing hour represents a charming contradistinction to those dials proffered by some brands which seem at best rather ‘busy’ and in some cases, virtually impossible to read. No such affliction effects the sm302 which tastefully articulates time with seemly poise and absolute decorum.

Garrick Hoxton sm302

The hour and minute hands are produced in-house. Close examination reveals their hand crafted nature with small surface undulations on the recesses to the centre of each hand. They lack the homogeneity of mass produced stamped items typically used on mainstream brands. The resultant subtle nuances reveal a comely individuality which I appreciate, reaffirming this is a handmade watch.

A stainless steel chapter ring sits atop the red dial surface and is retained with three thermally blued screws. I noted the screws were not recessed and enquired of David Brailsford, Managing Director of Garrick, what was the reason for this decision. His answer was clear and unequivocal, ‘We wanted the thermally blued screws to sit above the chapter ring, to engage with light more readily and for the screws to yield beautiful bluish purple shades in ambient light. By recessing the screws we would have lost much of this interplay with light and sacrificed the delightful depths we have achieved using the screws.’ Listening to Brailsford, everything suddenly made sense. The brands attention to detail is incredibly impressive, especially in a company which is still relatively small and young.

The case

I appreciated the polished case of the sm301 with its effervescent mien. Simon Michlmayr and his team are masters of polishing and successfully infused the sm301 with an almost mirror-like gleam. However, with the sm302, the caseband is grained, adopting a gentler, calmer persona. Whilst I like the shiny flanks of the sm301, I favour the muted disposition of the younger, sm302.

Garrick Hoxton sm302

The 42mm case sits comfortably on the wrist and the crown does not impose its presence on the arm with unsightly red marks. This timepiece accords an agreeable fit which should appeal to a wide audience, avoiding the extremes of unduly small or excessively large, dimensions.

Garrick Hoxton sm302

An exhibition caseback reveals the inner psyche of the timepiece, with the finely decorated movement freely disclosed via one of the largest ‘widescreen’ sapphire crystal panes you are likely to encounter. Indeed, Garrick has utilised virtually all of the caseback to reveal as much of the movement as possible.

Garrick Hoxton sm302

The movement

Garrick used a hand-wound, ‘new old stock’ Unitas 6498.1 base movement on the sm301 and the sm302 repeats this formula.

Where the movement of the sm302 differs from the sm301 is with the absence of a free-sprung balance. However, the sm302 uses a screwed balance which will appeal to many purists, myself included.

Garrick Hoxton sm302

Garrick has also elected to eschew the Geneva stripes found on the bridges of the sm301 and employ a frosted finish which I personally find fresh and eye-catching. The appearance of the bridges on the sm302 appearmodern when contrasted with the sm301, but confer a degree of originality which is very endearing.

Traditional watchmaking crafts are still much in evidence, despite the modernity of the timepiece. The thermally blued screws are not mass produced in a large oven, but heated on a bed of brass filings to achieve the beautiful bluish purple hues.

Garrick Hoxton sm302 and Garrick Shaftesbury sm301

Closing remarks

The red-faced Garrick Hoxton sm302 makes me smile. It disarms me with its unique appearance and charming details. Some elements exhibit modernity, which, unusually for me, lighten my mood. I cannot help being drawn towards many ingredients of this mouth watering horological proposition and feeling a sense that all is well with the world.

It is refreshing to see British craftsmanship is still alive and well. Indeed, as a patriot and watch lover I can report, that for once, seeing red actually makes me happy. The future of Garrick looks assured if it continues to produce watches that display such breathtaking invention and skill.

Garrick Hoxton sm302

Technical Specification

  • Model: Garrick Hoxton sm302
  • Case: stainless steel; diameter 42.00mm; height 12.50mm; water resistant to 10 bar (100 metres); sapphire crystal to front and caseback.
  • Functions: Hours; minutes.
  • Movement: Vintage Unitas 6498.1 base, hand-wound movement; frequency 18,000 vph (2.5Hz), power reserve 42 hours
  • Strap: Black leather strap presented with a stainless steel pin buckle
  • Price: £2495 (RRP as at 3.6.2015)

Acknowledgement

All images bearing the ESCAPEMENT logo by © Euan Davies 2015

http://www.escapementmagazine.com/articles/garrick-hoxton-sm302—watch-review-by-escapement.html

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.

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.

Roger_Smith_-_Workshop_2008_039

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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.

Workshop_2008_050

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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.

17

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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!

Simon_Park_-_Workshop_2008_046

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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.

40mm_White_Gold_engine_turned_b

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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.

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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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