Phillips in Association with Bacs and Russo has announced the first public sale of Roger Smith’s Pocket Watch Number Two.
Estimated in Excess of $1 Million, this historically important timepiece represents a landmark achievement in the industry and the cornerstone of the 21st-century English watchmaking renaissance.
At the age of just 22, Smith presented the esteemed George Daniels, widely considered the greatest watchmaker of the 20th century, with his first handmade pocket watch in hopes of securing a coveted apprenticeship.
Daniels, however, advised the newcomer to go back and start again as it looked “handmade” and not “created”.
Smith spent the next five years perfecting his second pocket watch, featuring a perpetual calendar and tourbillon with spring-detent escapement. It has an impressive, hand-made 18 karat gold case measuring 66.5mm in diameter. Upon examining the timepiece, Daniels accepted him as his only apprentice.
The watch will be included in The New York Watch Auction: EIGHT on 10-11 June at 432 Park Avenue, following a global tour to London, Singapore, Los Angeles, Geneva, and Hong Kong.
Shortly after approving of Pocket Watch Number Two, Daniels called Smith and asked for his help in completing a series of watches to celebrate his co-axial escapement recently adopted by Omega. This was to become the Millennium series.
Once the Millennium series was completed, in 2001, Smith decided to set out on his own and create his own wristwatch. After Daniels’ death in 2011, Roger Smith inherited his workshop on the Isle of Man, as well as the current production and future service needs of any Daniels wristwatch or pocket watch.
Placed side-by-side with the chapter in Daniels’ Watchmaking on engine-turned cases and dials, in the execution of this dial, Smith clearly sought to experiment with every possible skill set described in the book. Four different types of engine-turning are present: barleycorn for the outer portion of the main dial, basket weave for the seconds dial displaying the moon phase, clous de Paris within the calendar dials, and a wave and trough pattern delineates the hours and minutes sectors. The hour and second rings are straight-grained, engraved, and filled with ink.
A small cartouche below the moon phase displays ‘R.W. Smith’, discretely at 12 o’clock a “No. 2” is engraved. Rather than drawing inspiration from traditional British watchmaking, the dial is quintessentially Breguet.
Beneath the dial lies the exquisite double barrel spring detent escapement and tourbillon carriage. Unlike Swiss watchmaking, there is no anglage or Côtes de Genève present on the movement.
Instead, the movement is created from a single brass plate that is first given a type of distinctly English finish called “frosting” and then immersed in an acid bath and gilded.
The finishing of the edges is straight, rather than curved. The winding mechanism is hidden, so that when the watch is opened to view the movement, the viewer only sees the most exceptional components.
In total, Roger Smith has made only three pocket watches. His Pocket Watch Number 1, deemed insufficient by George Daniels, was disassembled and only the movement remains now, still in the workshop on the Isle of Man. Pocket Watch Number 3, made as a private commission, remains in private hands.
The Pocket Watch Number Two stayed in Smith’s possession until 2004, when it was sold to fund the launch of his eponymous brand. Offered by an important collector, it has never surfaced publicly until now.
On 13 April, Pocket Watch Number Two will make its public debut during the London Exhibition of The New York Watch Auction: EIGHT’s International highlights tour, with a special panel discussion featuring Roger Smith.
More details at https://www.phillips.com/auctions/auction/NY080123