A Rare Roger Smith Series 2 Housed In A Prototype White Gold Case
Now available at Wristcheck, here’s how this timepiece marked an important evolution in Smith’s journey as the greatest watchmaker of our time
There are rare watches and then there are watches made by Roger W. Smith. Based on the Isle of Man and the sole apprentice to the late genius, George Daniels, Smith’s style of watchmaking stands out for its obsession with details and impeccable craftsmanship. Over the last two decades, Smith has made just 100 watches, following his mentor’s methodology where each component is crafted, finished and assembled at his workshop on the Isle of Man.
Besides its famous racing circuit, mysterious ruins and the glorious birdlife, the Isle of Man, is now recognized for the finest handmade watches in the world. Born in Manchester, Smith moved to the Isle of Man in the 90s and eventually opened his own workshop in 2001. Over the next decade, he toiled 14-hours a day, perfecting every little component by hand. This was also the time when Smith started to explore some improvements on George Daniels’ Co-Axial escapement. He first fitted this unique escapement into his Series 2 watch — the first production watch by a British watchmaker in modern times. A culmination of Smith’s decade-long learnings and innovation as an independent watchmaker, the Series 2 is considered as the most important piece in his career so far. “The Series 2, as I have often been quoted, was a game changer for me. It was also a significant step forward, not just for me, but for the story of the Daniels Method, being the first production watch made with the Co-axial escapement according to that approach. It proved that it could be done and it opened the door to what Roger W Smith would become today,” says Smith.
The Series 2 has many firsts to its credit, it was the first watch to be completely made in-house. It was also THE watch that ushered in a turning point in an otherwise challenging period at Roger Smith. “While I don’t think anything would have stopped me from making watches, those difficult early years could easily have led to a compromise in my approach to watchmaking. I’m very glad that I was able to persevere and work through those times, as it means there is no phase of my career where I produced watches I’m not proud of putting my name to today. Each watch from that time remains a stepping stone to today’s work - but challenging times also mean that I take nothing for granted,” says Smith.
With its round case, sculpted hands and a beautiful engine-turned dial, the Series 2 exemplified Roger Smith’s watchmaking to the core. Smith elevated his trademark craftsmanship to another level with the introduction of the Series 2 Open Dial in 2010. “The Open Dial in a 40mm case was an important evolution for me. I think above all, the case in this instance is a picture frame for the mechanics and a portal for the owner to enjoy the inner workings,” he says.
Existing as one of only two watches featuring its unique style of minute chapter and one of five white gold Open Dials with Mark 1 movements, Wristcheck is honored to offer an incredibly rare iteration of the Roger W. Smith Series 2 Open Dial Watch housed in a prototype 40mm white gold case. “Many will assume that my creation of the Open Dial was driven by an aesthetic notion but, as with both George’s approach and English watchmaking, the aesthetics are driven by function. In this case the Open Dial is the by-product of a practical demonstration of the under-dial work that’s never normally seen by anyone but the watchmaker,” explains Smith. “When Austen (Wristcheck’s co-founder) came to visit our workshop, he remarked on the painstaking attention to finishing that we put into every single component, knowing they will never be seen by the owner. With the Open Dial, I wanted to reveal that stratum of the watch; not only that, I wanted to demonstrate the architectural substance of the inner workings and to show how committed I am to making watches that stand the test of time. It is ultimately satisfying when practical function can lead to a beautiful object,” he says.
Made entirely by hand and finished in the traditional English way, this watch features a thin outer-chapter of engraved, black minute markers with Roman numerals indicating the hours. Right from the sculpted hour and minute hands to the beautifully engraved three-quarter main plate and balance cock, this exceptional timepiece is a testament to Roger Smith’s ingenuity as one of the industry's most revered independent watchmakers.
This special piece was consigned at Wristcheck by one of our clients, Phillip Pon, who has had this watch for nearly 13 years now. The story of how Pon got lucky with this watch is equally fascinating. In 2011, Pon had the privilege of attending a dinner with some of the world's finest independent watchmakers, including Kari Voutilainen, Romain Gauthier, Ludovic Ballouard and of course, Roger W. Smith. At the time, Mr. Pon owned a watch from each of the attending watchmakers except for Roger W. Smith. He expressed his admiration for Mr. Smith's work and his desire to own one of his masterpieces. To his delight, Smith was sufficiently moved to unveil from his pocket a watch that he had personally crafted and offered it to Pon – upon which the transaction promptly took place. "I remember being very lucky — just to be invited to that dinner to meet four amazing watchmakers, including Roger Smith, who reached into his pocket and offered me this Series 2 Open Dial at that very moment. It was surreal! The unboxing of the watch was also quite magical in the sense that it came in a beautiful Linley presentation box. The watch itself was stunning and the first time I wound it, it was exactly how I expected it to be — the crown was easy to grasp, and when I turned it, I could literally hear the clicking, the gears turning and the power reserve winding up. This watch has always been my grail and after over a decade of cherishing it, it brings me great joy to share it with another passionate enthusiast who will truly appreciate it for the horological marvel that it is,” says Phillip Pon.
“This Series 2 Open Dial watch in white gold is particularly important to me, being the first of my Open Dial watches to be housed in a 40mm case. The additional 2mm size of this case enhanced the proportions whilst the choice of white gold complemented the aesthetics of those inner workings perfectly for me. Of note is the fact that the watch has the first of my evolutions of the co-axial escapement. This ‘Mark 1’ escapement represents one of the milestones in my quest to continue improving on George Daniels’s original concept. There are only ten of my Open Dials in existence with this particular escapement,” he says. “Holding the finished watch for the first time and seeing that all come together was a very special moment. As I mentioned to Austen during our filming, there are no ‘grades’ of acceptability in my watchmaking; it is either right, or it is wrong… and this felt very right!”
The starting price for this Series 2 Open Dial by Roger Smith is USD 1.15 million. The watch is open to inquiries. For more details, please visit wristcheck.com