Roger W. Smith, the only maker of entirely British watches and movements, is set to announce his first range of watches.
Presented by Phillips, the preview at Salon QP (12-14 November) will also feature a rare showing of Roger Smith’s unique GREAT Britain watch.
Roger explains: ‘It is almost ten years since I produced my first Series 2 wristwatch and, since then we have produced just 70 pieces. For me, it has been a wonderful decade of incremental development and exploration of my design philosophy. Each piece has been a unique and important step on that journey.’
Some of those 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.
Roger continues: ‘Looking for further technical improvements, and encouraged by new machining processes which we developed for the escape wheel of the GREAT Britain, I decided to scale down the escapement by as much as a third in order to explore any further benefits to timekeeping.’
This led to a problem and, in the great tradition of watchmaking, its solution proved to be the genesis of a much greater step for British watchmaking…
‘The problem was that the new escapement would not fit into my existing Series 2 movement!’ continues Roger Smith, ‘so, after much head scratching, I decided to design a completely new mechanism to house my latest escapement.’
It was this lengthy redesign phase which also caused Roger to take stock of his past catalogue of Unique Piece designs – and led to the realisation that the last decade of horological endeavour had created a large enough body of work to evolve a new range of watches.
The Series 1, 2, 3 and 4 represents, for Roger Smith something of a renaissance in his approach to watchmaking.
It also effectively enshrines the watches he has produced to date as uniquely important stepping stones towards this new approach.
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 to be produced in the British Isles and is all the more notable for coming from such a tiny watchmaking company based in the Isle of Man.
And once again, it is driven by the uniquely British provenance of Roger’s in-house movements: ‘Once the individual watch specification had been finalised, I decided to base all the pieces around the same train of wheels, NEW escapement, winding and hand set mechanisms but with each watch having its own individual base plate to house the watches’ particular complication’ explains Roger.
These completely revised Series 1 and 2 watches are to be accompanied by Roger’s first new Series for a decade; the 3 (which has a calendar movement) and the 4 (a more complicated calendar watch), which will complete the range.
For now, details are being kept secret, but the prototypes are to be unveiled at Salon QP (12-14 November) and presented by the watch department of Phillips.
Paul Maudsley of Phillips said: ‘We are very excited to have Roger W. Smith, one of the greatest living watch makers show his wonderful new prototypes on our stand at this years Salon QP’ He continued; ‘At Phillips we represent many exciting artists across many different fields and Roger’s watchmaking skills are as relevant and important as any other art form.’
Roger is also delighted to have this new milestone presented by Phillips: ‘Rare and exceptional watches are a relatively new collecting category at Phillips and responds to the ever-increasing need for collectors around the world to access horological scholarship and guidance. Phillips is rapidly establishing itself as the number one auction house for watches.’
Roger will also be providing a unique Q&A session at a special showing of The Watchmaker’s Apprentice which will be screened on the 13th November. The film, produced by DAM Productions and distributed by Bulldog was released on 24th September and has immediately risen to No 2 in the iTunes documentary chart.
Phillips presentation of Roger W. Smith can be visited at GF05 on the ground floor.