Switzerland and Germany have esteemed reputations in the horological world, which often leaves other countries with highly accomplished watchmakers out of the spotlight. However, one man named Roger W. Smith is the exception to the rule. The protege of famed British master watchmaker Dr. George Daniels, Smith has taken over his workshop and is continuing Daniels’ legacy of creating incredibly well made mechanical timepieces.
A Roger Smith watch isn’t just skillfully crafted, it’s the epitome of exclusive and comes with a high price tag. Smith designs and hand builds each component of his bespoke watches, and he’s one of just a small handful of people on the planet who is able to do so. Here are five of the top Roger W. Smith watches ever created.
1. Roger Smith Series 2 – $140,651
The Series 2 looks similar to the Series 1 collection of Roger W. Smith watches, but it has some distinct differences. The watchmaker doesn’t have many collections that are production watches, but this is one of them. Still, because of the fact that Smith crafts his watches by hand, less than ten units of the Series 2 come out of his studio each year. Undoubtedly, this is one of the rarest production watches in the world.
Design planning for the Series 2 started in 2002, and the first prototype was produced in early 2006. By the end of that same year, the watch started being made available for sale. The movement inside of the Series 2 is what makes it such a noteworthy timepiece. The inspiration behind it was the movements contained inside of some of the most iconic British pocket watches made throughout history — this can be seen in its three-quarter plate and understated, fine, aesthetic details.
2. George Daniels Anniversary Watch – $287,417
Watchmaking legend George Daniels collaborated with Roger Smith to create the Anniversary Watch. This isn’t just a beautiful timepiece, it’s important to horological history and is known as one of the last watches that Dr. Daniels had a hand in making. Only 35 pieces were produced, and when it comes up for sale these days its price is typically well over $275,000.
In a number of ways, this watch can be regarded as a passing of the torch from George Daniels to Roger Smith, who now works from his mentor’s Isle of Man-based studio. The Anniversary Watch has a 40 mm case made of 18 carat yellow gold and a black strap made of deep black alligator leather. The manually wound movement inside is impeccably precise and consists of Daniels’ Co-Axial escapement. On the silver dial of the watch just below the 12 o’clock position is a power reserve indicator, and elsewhere on the watch are a stepped bezel and gold trimmed sub dials.
3. Open Dial – $183,458
If you think that Roger W. Smith watches are a bit too straight laced and traditional for your tastes, you’ll appreciate the more avant-garde appearance of the Open Dial. This watch, just as its name implies, has a dial that displays the inner workings or the model. It’s extraordinary, quite stylish and attractive, and has a modern edge. Being able to see the under dial work in a watch allows others to get a better understanding of what makes the timepiece so unique and exquisite.
The first Open Dial watch was completed in 2010. Those who are able to pay the money it costs to have one made can choose between platinum or 18 carat white gold for the case. Being filled with eye catching three dimensional details, and a complication that’s as much a work of art as it is a technological and mechanical feat, make this wristwatch truly remarkable. After 2016, Roger Smith plans to debut an entirely new Open Dial concept.
4. Series 4 – $305,763
This watch was designed on the Isle of Man, in the studio formerly occupied by George Daniels. To continue his mentor’s tradition of innovative watchmaking, Roger Smith went ahead with planning how to craft a watch with an instantaneous triple calendar. He’d been contemplating the idea for years, always putting the thought off to the side.
The Series 4 is the result of Smith finally bringing his idea to fruition. It’s a manually wound timepiece that displays seconds, minutes, hours, the day, date, month, and moon phases. It’s an incredibly handsome wristwatch with a black alligator leather strap with black stitching, sapphire crystal on the front and back, and a 41 mm case available in platinum, 18 carat yellow, red, or white gold.
The movement is a Roger W. Smith creation that’s the latest single wheel iteration of the Daniels Co-axial escapement. It produces 18,000 vibrations per hour, has gilded and frosted plates, gold chatons, a free sprung Quadrajust balance, and each timepiece is numbered and signed by Smith.
5. The Great Britain – $220,149
This watch was created to commemorate Smith being appointed Ambassador of the GREAT Britain campaign, and the aim was to show the world just why British technology and innovation shouldn’t be forgotten. Inside of this watch is one of the most complex handmade dials ever created along with a one-off movement that can’t be found in any other timepiece.
Its movement has a three-quarter plate with a floral motif on the barrel bridge, 23 jewels, hand engraved plates, the single wheel George Daniels Co-Axial escapement, and a manually would mechanism. The hands on the dial are themselves a marvel, as each was signed by Smith. On the dial is a Union Jack flag placed off center and presented in white tones.
The watch is gorgeous, but it’s not available for sale — only one was made, and that piece is on loan to Britain’s government. However, Roger Smith has stated that if the watch was made for sale it would cost $180,000 GBP, which equates to approximately $220,149.