Yours for £120,000: a slice of British watchmaking history, with the very first example of Roger Smith’s landmark production wristwatch
Pictures care of WatchXchange
Series 2 watches from Roger Smith are rare enough: since launching it in 2006, Smith has produced fewer than 70 examples of the wristwatch that embodies his vision of a modern take on historic British watchmaking. It’s arrival marked the moment Smith stepped out from under the shadow of Dr George Daniels, with a watch that was 100% designed and created in his Isle of Man workshop (the earlier Series 1 used a base gear train and some other bought-in components). Containing his original take on Daniels’ co-axial escapement, for 10 years it has been his sole production wristwatch – until he unleashed a few more at SalonQP last year.
Series 2, version one
But the Series 2 pictured here is particularly special: it is the very first model that Smith completed, and the first that left his studio. Before this, Smith was producing around one (bespoke) watch per year; with the Series 2, this rocketed up to nine, where it has roughly remained. It is, in other words, the first entirely in-house production wristwatch from one of the world’s great watchmaking masters – and that makes it a little slice of history. And it’s for sale.
The British website WatchXchange has had a Series 2 for sale previously – another model from the first 2006 batch, which was priced at £115,000 (we covered it here). The exclusivity of the very first model puts the price a little higher on this one, at £120,000 – but that’s not too different to what you’d pay for a brand new Series 2 right now, for those prepared to join a waiting list of around three years. Otherwise, there’s this.
The hand-wound Series 2 is 40mm in diameter, cased in 18k yellow gold, with hours and minutes, a small seconds subdial and up/down power reserve indicator. It’s a magisterial piece of watchmaking, in a style that’s heavily influenced by historic English pocket watches, from its “English finish” frosted gold-plated movement to the minutely detailed engine-turned patterns on its dial – all carried out in Smith’s studio on ancient machines, of course.
This Series 2 has a couple of interesting points of departure that make it that bit more special. While Smith generally makes the hands of the Series 2 in yellow gold, in this case he was asked to produced the power reserve hand in white gold instead.
A more idiosyncratic detail is the fact that, though it’s the first Series 2 that Smith completed, it was named as No. 3. That’s simply because Smith’s original Series 2 clients were given the option of picking their own numbers – the first batch of nine watches Smith produced in 2006 also included a No. 18, for instance. In this case, you can see “No. 3-C” engraved on the frosted movement plate.
That movement is quite something. The architecture, dominated by a large, sturdy movement plate to give the thing absolute rigidity and reliability, recalls that of English pocket watches of old, while highlighting something entirely modern: Smith’s original version of the Daniels co-axial escapement (he has since refined it). Steel elements are all black-polished, edges chamfered, and jewels set into polished gold chatons with blued screws.
Interestingly, Roger Smith himself has given the sale on WatchXchange his blessing, and even collaborated with website on a film that gives significant insight into how the Series 2 came into being, and just why it’s the landmark that it is.
You can find this one-off Roger Smith Series 2 on the WatchXchange website here.