Roger W Smith is the only watchmaker in the world who can create a watch entirely by hand.
Roger W Smith is the only watchmaker in the world who can create a watch entirely by hand. It’s a long and painstaking process in which every small component is crafted with an attention to detail unheard of in modern manufacturing. Would-be customers need almost as much patience as the watchmaker himself. He and his staff of seven turn out only ten watches a year, and though it may cost up to half a million pounds, there’s a four-year waiting list to buy one.
Roger’s career is an astonishing epic of dedication, not to mention skill.
As a 17-year-old student at Manchester School of Horology, he attended a talk by Dr George Daniels, then considered the best watchmaker in the world, and one of the few to build complete watches by hand. One of these, his ‘Space Traveller’ pocket watch, he unboxed to show the class. Roger knew instantly that here was greatness and, just as surely, that his
life’s calling was to hand-make watches.
His first took him two years of work in his spare time. He took it to Daniels, who said it wasn’t quite good enough. Roger then spent the next five years making and re-making his watch, in the process perfecting the 32 trades necessary to do the job. This time his mentor approved and invited Roger to work with him on the now iconic ‘Daniels Millennium’ series in his Isle of Man workshop. This was the perfect foundation for Roger to set up his own studio in 2001, to create his ‘Series 1’, comprising nine rectangular-cased watches fitted with a retrograde calendar complication.
The first watch to be made completely in house by hand, however, was his Series 2, which was launched in February 2006 after a complicated three-year development period. It was
the first production watch hand-built according to the Daniels’ Method. The Series 2 established Roger as the absolute master of his time. It is a mechanical embodiment of his watchmaking ethos: to create a means of telling the time that is also a work of art, and will last forever.
When Daniels died in 2011, he left his Isle of Man workshop to Smith, including rare machines dating back to the 1820s.
Three-hundred years ago Britain made the best watches in the world. Roger is reclaiming that distinction for the nation. In 2013 he created a standard bearer in a one-of-a-kind watch, the GREAT Britain, for the GREAT campaign, which celebrated the best of the nation and was displayed by ministers and diplomats on trade missions overseas. It has the most complex dial ever made by hand. Another marvel, his Open Dial watch, is transparent, revealing the intricate workings inside.
Now, after a four-year development cycle, Roger has completed the first range of all-British watches for decades. The revised Series 1 and 2 watches are joined by Roger’s first new production watches for a decade, the Series 3 and 4, which include calendars.
ROGER W SMITH PO BOX 67, RAMSEY, ISLE OF MAN, IM99 4LN +44 (0)1624 897943