Roger W. Smith
Series 2 Open-Dial | white gold
This hand-made, white gold Roger W. Smith Series 2 with open dial is one of the smallest "production watches" in the world, and also marks an important chapter in the watchmaker's career. Less than a dozen Series 2s have been executed with open-dials to date, with the collection having since been given the designation "Series 5". Furthermore, this was the very first watch to house the latest version of Roger's single-wheel Co-Axial Escapement, building upon the two-piece design originally conceived by the late George Daniels.
Roger W. Smith, OBE
Roger W. Smith OBE is recognised as one of the greatest watchmakers of the modern era. The only watchmaker to work as an apprentice to, and alongside, the late Dr George Daniels, Roger has been producing watches on the Isle of Man for nearly two decades. In that time, he has been fine-tuning and perfecting the escapement that Daniels first dreamt of, the Co-Axial, using the same principles as his mentor.
Working in isolation for most of his career, Daniels had taken Smith on as an apprentice, after the promising watchmaker built two pocket watches entirely by hand over the course of several years, with the aim of proving his worth to Daniels. After congratulating Smith on completing this journey, the two watchmakers collaborated on a number projects together, from the Millennium series to a small handful of tourbillon wristwatches.
Roger W. Smith has since become the flag bearer for English watchmaking, building on the work of his mentor, but also on that of those who have come centuries before him, such as Tompion, Graham and Arnold. He was awarded an OBE in June 2018, for his outstanding services to watchmaking. Nowadays, he heads up the only workshop which creates complete watches and movements in the British Isles.
Pushing forwards the Co-Axial
The Co-Axial was devised in the early 1970s and patented in 1980, with its design based on a series of experimental escapements that started in 1969. It was designed to improve the mechanisms’ long term performance by radically changing the nature of its inner workings. This was the first practical invention since the lever escapement, created by Thomas Mudge in 1755, thus representing an important advancement in the dynamics of the watch. By re-designing the function of the components during impulse, the Co-Axial Escapement operates without sliding friction. As a consequence, unlike a conventional watch, the rate is unaffected by the viscosity of lubricants, which can vary constantly with temperature, humidity, and age.
In 2006, Smith began working on his own interpretation of his mentor's design, culminating in the first significant development of the Co-Axial Escapement. He spent years studying ways to improve its efficiency and accuracy. Initially combining two wheels, Smith created his first single-wheel design in 2010. Through successive versions, it was discovered that the lighter the escape wheel, the better it performed.
In the original paperwork for this watch, Smith refers to this Series 2 Open Dial as being the first to house his latest, “much lightened” single-wheel escapement, which was first introduced in 2015. Despite further examples having been made since, this first iteration of Roger’s most recent refinement marks another key step in his long-standing journey to carry forward Daniels’ legacy. In Roger’s own words,
"Horology isn’t about standing still and accepting things as they are. It’s about pushing things forward and making small improvements wherever we can."
While Smith's work, and English watchmaking more generally, is usually quite restrained, the open dial of this Series 2 puts the watchmaker's craftsmanship on centre stage. The open-dial features a thin, outer-chapter of engraved, black minute markers, with corresponding Roman numerals indicating the hours. The dial features English-style flourishes, with frosted and gilded plates, gold chatons and flame-coloured screws. A raised cartouche at twelve o'clock references "R. W. SMITH" in black engraving. All parts are hand-crafted from beginning to end; including the slender, purple-flamed gold hour and minute hands, tipped with spades.
At ten o'clock sits a power-reserve indicator. The up/down hand is made from steel which is flame-blued to a purple hue, while the hanging chapter is made from silver. The large, sub-seconds register placed at six o'clock is enclosed within a grained seconds chapter. Drilled dots mark the seconds, indicated by a slender flame-blued steel seconds' hand, with a traditional counter-balance at one end.
The round, white-gold case measures 40 mm in diameter, with a sapphire glass on the front and back. The caseback is engraved with "SERIES 2" and the watch's serial number, as well as bearing the traditional and maker's own hallmarks. The beautiful movement is revealed through the sapphire caseback, very-much inspired by the British style of pocket watches of Tompion, Graham and Arnold. Much like the dial, the movement also shows multiple layers of depth. It has a custom, English, floral-engraving, a raised barrel bridge and balance cock and frosted and gilded plates. This, together with the dominating three-quarter main plate, is a testament to Roger W. Smith's commitment to traditional English watchmaking.
This white gold, Open Dial Series 2 is accompanied by its original booklet and Linley presentation box. It comes on a bespoke Zürich grained leather watch strap, and is also accompanied by the original black alligator strap and white gold pin buckle from Roger W. Smith.
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|Brand:||Roger W. Smith|
|Model:||Series 2 - Open Dial (now referred to as "Series 5")|
|Movement:||hand-made, mechanical manual-winding|
|Functions:||hours, minutes, sub-seconds, power reserve indicator|
|Features:||open dial, display back, blued steel hands|
|Case:||40 mm 18-carat white gold|
|Crystal:||sapphire front and back|
|Bracelet:||taupe Zürich grained leather strap, original alligator strap from Roger W. Smith, white gold buckle|
|Box & papers:||Linley wooden box from Roger W. Smith & paperwork|
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