British master watch maker Roger W. Smith has recently revealed his first range of watches at Salon QP watch exhibition held in London. Presented by Phillips, the preview, which was held from 12-14 November also featured a rare showing of Roger Smith’s unique Great Britain watch. It is almost the fifteenth anniversary of the first production wrist watches issued by the Roger W. Smith Studio in 2001; namely the Series 1.
Some of the key steps have included Roger’s landmark development, in 2010, of a single-wheel version of George Daniels’ co-axial escapement. This improvement enabled more accurate escapements which ultimately led to some slight improvements in actual timekeeping. In 2012, a further milestone was achieved with Roger Smith’s radical lightening (by 23%) of the escape wheel resulting in further improvements to timekeeping, due to the faster acceleration and less abrupt deceleration of the escape wheel.
This iteration of Roger Smith’s new escapement was showcased in 2013’s GREAT Britain watch which has been travelling the world over the last 18 months to help celebrate the best of British innovation and craftsmanship.
It was this lengthy redesign phase which also prompted Roger to review his Unique Piece designs, and sparked the realisation that he had now created a large enough body of work to evolve a new range of watches.
The resulting Series 1, 2, 3 and 4 watches represent, for Roger Smith something of a renaissance in his approach to watchmaking. They also enshrine the watches he has produced to date as uniquely important stepping stones towards this new era.
Perhaps most importantly, however, it represents another significant step in the resurgence of Great Britain as a centre of excellence for watchmaking, for this is the first range of watches in the modern era to be produced entirely within the British Isles and is all the more notable for coming from such a tiny watchmaking company based in the Isle of Man.
The uniquely British provenance of Roger’s in-house movements remains the true heart of his hand-crafted watches and the principle evolution of his approach. In addition, he substantially redesigned the view of the movement through the back of the watch and this new movement architecture is the feature most distinguishable from his previous work. The case design has also been reviewed and Roger’s 40mm case has been refreshed for the Series 1, 2 and 3 pieces. The Series 4 has a 41mm case in order to house the extensive calendar complication.
Roger W. Smith Series 1
Following the launch of the Great Britain wrist watch in November 2013, Roger W. Smith has received great number of requests from connoisseurs to create a time-only wristwatch. The new Series 1 is Roger’s response: A 40mm cased, manually wound wristwatch displaying hours, minutes and seconds.
Roger W. Smith Series 2
The new Series 2 is an evolution of the model which has been perfected over the last ten years since its original release. The Series 2 is a 40mm cased, manually wound wristwatch displaying hours, minutes, seconds and power reserve dial.
Roger W. Smith Series 3
The original Series 1 featured a retrograde date complication and, since the completion of that series Roger W. Smith has made two Unique Pieces which both featured developments of his original 2001 design. It was as a result of reviewing those watches that helped to devise a new Series. The resulting Series 3 is a 40mm cased, manually wound wristwatch displaying hours, minutes, seconds and a retrograde date complication.
Roger W. Smith Series 4
Roger W. Smith had wanted to create an instantaneous triple-calendar wristwatch for some time, but was initially dissuaded by the often difficult-to-read dials. Typically key information is either too small to be legible or the calendar hand will, in its movement around the dial, obscure the day and month apertures for several days at a time.
After significant experimentation, the resulting Series 4 watch has a split dial and ‘travelling date aperture’ which overcomes this issue. To accommodate this complication, the Series 4 is a slightly larger 41mm cased, manually wound wristwatch displaying hours, minutes, seconds with date, day, month and phase-of-moon complications.
The prototypes were unveiled by Roger Smith at Salon QP (12-14 November) and presented by the watch department of Phillips along with his unique Great Britain watch which has been travelling the world to help promote the best of British craftsmanship. So far in 2015, it has visited Shanghai and Suzhou in China, Paris and Blenheim Palace.