Each watch was custom-made and completely different, with this example fitted with a panorama date. The Grand Date mechanism was specially designed for just this watch, making it a completely one-off piece. This was the first tourbillon to be commissioned from Roger, started in 2003 and delivered in July, 2010. It was completely designed and made by the watchmaker, as confirmed by the man himself (see interview below to the left).
The silver, round dial has an outer chapter ring of drilled and inked black minute markers. The hour markers, in the form of black Roman numeral, are featured on a circular grained chapter ring. The centre of the dial occupies yet another, deeper section, with its hand-turned, basket-work pattern. A cartouche at twelve o'clock references "R. W. SMITH" in black engraving. All parts are hand-made from beginning to end; including the slender, red gold hour and minute hands, tipped with spades, a design feature unique to Roger W. Smith.
The large, sub-seconds register at six o'clock, is decorated with a diamond-guilloché pattern and a polished seconds chapter circumnavigating it. Black, drilled dots mark the seconds, centring around a slim, red gold seconds’ hand, with an elegant circular counter-balance at the tip.
Between nine and ten o'clock is the aperture for the panorama date, a specific request from the original owner of the watch. It adds yet another level of depth to the dial. This simple, yet impressive display, is framed in red gold and has black engraved numerals.
The round, red-gold case measures 42 mm in diameter, excluding the fluted crown, with sapphire glass on the front and back. The edge of the case-back and the movement are engraved with "TOURBILLON COMMISSION" and "No. 1", as well as bearing the traditional and maker's own hallmarks. The case has straight lugs with a brown alligator strap, supplied by Roger W. Smith. It is debossed with "R. W. SMITH" on the lining, just like the 18-carat red-gold tang buckle.
This watch is quintessentially British, which is never more evident than when turning it over. The finishing and movement architecture, are very much inspired by the works of the late George Daniels, Tompion, Graham and Arnold. The movement features the fully black polished flying tourbillon and a three-quarter main plate finished in the English style with frosting and gilding. All this is revealed through the sapphire case-back. The simple shapes, frosted finishing on the plate, and the clarity of the movement gives it an understated look. However the execution is sharp, especially on the edges and on the polished tourbillon. Much like the dial, the movement also shows multiple layers of depth. An understated, elegant aesthetic married with a fantastically finished, manual-winding movement.
Finally, the watch is equipped with arguably one of the greatest British contributions to watchmaking; the Co-Axial Escapement, invented by the late George Daniels to whom Roger was an apprentice. The co-axial escapements great accolade is that it is unaffected by the deterioration of an applied lubricant resulting in a significantly extended longer service intervals and higher rate of timekeeping than the more traditional Swiss lever escapement. Outside of Omega S.A, Roger W. Smith is the only other watchmaker to be currently using this escapement. Interestingly, George Daniels himself made one less tourbillon-fitted wristwatch than Roger Smith.
To find out more from the watchmaker himself, watch our most recent interview with Roger W. Smith, where he explains the Grande Date Tourbillon in depth.