“It has been widely accepted with a certain degree of relief by our clients that we were prepared to do a smaller case again”
The Series 1 was launched in 2013, the result of popular client enthusiasm for a time-only watch, much like the Roger W. Smith GREAT Britain unique piece, a travelling exhibition watch crafted to showcase the best of British watchmaking around the world.
This example features a case forged from 18 carat white gold, measuring 38mm across, excluding the crown. It is the more classical of the two sizes in which the watch is available, the other option being a more modern 40mm. Offered in this size since 2020, the 38mm Series 1 marks a return to classically sized Roger W. Smith watches such as early variations of the Series 2. “It has been widely accepted with a certain degree of relief by our clients that we were prepared to do a smaller case again,” Smith says of the decision to offer the Series 1 in a 38mm case.
It wears sapphire crystal on the front and back and the rear of the case bears the engraved hallmarks of the precious metal from which the case is forged. The lugs are straight, and the watch comes on a black Saffiano leather strap, supplied by Roger W. Smith, with a signed white gold tang buckle.
The silver, round dial, is recognisably one of Roger W. Smith’s, but with design inputs by A Collected Man. The outer chapter has engraved black minute markers. A fluted trench separates it from a second chapter of brushed silver with engraved hour markers. Further in, the dial is adorned with engine-turned, basket-weave guilloche and at 12 o’clock, a cartouche bears the “R. W. SMITH" mark, engraved in black.
At six o’clock is a large, subsidiary-seconds register decorated with diamond guilloche, circled by drilled, black dots marking the seconds. A slim, white gold seconds’ hand, with the signature pronounced counter-balance, traverses the face of the seconds’ register. The white gold hour and minute hands feature spade tips, scalloped by hand, much like the rest of the dial.
“A Collected Man was looking to do something different. The idea was a very simplistic, stripped back dial. I was a bit doubtful initially. However, as soon as the designs came through, I was very impressed, and I thought it was a good fit with my work.”
“The goal was to marry our design philosophy, that favours less over more, with Roger’s refined aesthetic. The minimal dial, together with the simplicity of the 38mm white metal, time-only Series 1, perfectly expresses what we at ACM love best about Roger’s work.”
INVESTMENT IN BRITISH WATCHMAKING
“For a number of years, I was witnessing this growth of companies within Britain making watches and clocks and I felt they weren’t being fully represented or even acknowledged. We need to engage with these makers and showcase what is happening in Britain today around the world. We launched the Alliance of British Watch and Clockmakers in 2020 to shine a spotlight on this trade and link in with government and education to further enhance interest in this field by showcasing the diversity of career opportunities available. Today the Alliance has 75 members.”
Long before Roger W. Smith famously became sole apprentice to the late Dr George Daniels, mastering the 34 skills that comprise the Daniels Method, he was a young teenager in Bolton, a town in northern England, looking for his way in life.
As an aspiring watchmaking student in Manchester, Smith wrote to Daniels asking to be his apprentice, an advance the latter politely declined. Undeterred, Smith set up a workshop in his parents’ garage pouring two years of his life into his first attempt at a pocket watch. However, Daniels dismissed the watch, saying it appeared “handmade”, rather than “created”. Smith’s second attempt was more successful. The master watchmaker closely scrutinised the watch and then offered Smith an apprenticeship in his workshop on the Isle of Man.
The skills he acquired from this experience would help Smith eventually transition from pocket watches to wristwatches. In 2001 he set up his own workshop, marrying modern production techniques to the Daniels Method, whilst finding ways to improve on the Daniels’ Co-Axial escapement. His watches, be they the Series 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5, have all featured Smith’s style, marked by the signature scalloped hands, intricate guilloche and ornate engravings that adorn the movement. Owing to the exacting and hand-finished nature of his process, his body of work from the last two decades is understandably small. However, it is undoubtedly substantial in its significance as the very pinnacle of modern independent watchmaking in Britain. Today, his workshop employs the next generation of watchmakers whom Smith is mentoring much as Daniels guided him.
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