Over the years, A Collected Man (or ACM), a watch curator based in London, has become one of the finest destinations for everything high-end independent watchmaking. For instance, they’ve been able to sell a 7 million Philippe Dufour Grande et Petite Sonnerie, or a simple yet tastefully-designed Baltic watch. Their business has recently expanded to online auctions, and the latest to appear is rather special and is exclusively focused on a single watch. And the watch in question is exceptional, being a unique, specifically commissioned Roger W. Smith Series 1. A monument of British watchmaking that will also benefit a good cause.
If ACM has earned a reputation for the quality of the watches offered for sale, Roger W. Smith is without a doubt amongst the most important and talented watchmakers to perform this art on British soil. The sole apprentice to the late Dr George Daniels, leading him to master the 34 skills that comprise the Daniels Method, Smith eventually transitioned from pocket watches to wristwatches. In 2001 he set up his own workshop, marrying modern production techniques to the Daniels Method while finding ways to improve on the Daniels Co-Axial escapement. His watches are known under the names Series 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 and are recognised for their impressive level of finishing – handmade, of course. As ACM comments, Roger W. Smith represents “the very pinnacle of modern independent watchmaking in Britain”.
Watches by Smith are rare. Period. You won’t find them off the shelf: they have to be commissioned. And with this in mind, the watch that is about to be auctioned by A Collected Man is, of course, rather special. But not only because it’s one of only 18 Series 1 watches that have been produced within a closed waiting list but mostly because this example is unique with a one-of-a-kind dial that was proposed by ACM to Roger W. Smith. Commissioned almost five years ago, this Series 1 represents a chapter in a special relationship between A Collected Man and the watchmaker. And it’s also the second time a Series 1 will be auctioned. So, if you’re into independent watchmaking (and have rather deep pockets, too), tomorrow will be your day.
The Series 1 watch was launched in 2013, the result of popular client enthusiasm for a time-only watch, much like the Roger W. Smith GREAT Britain unique piece. The present example is a minimalist interpretation of the watchmaker’s style, starting with a restrained case in 18k white gold with a compact 38mm diameter – the smaller of the two options available, the other being 40mm. In the same vein, it is worn on a sleek black Saffiano leather strap with a signed white gold tang buckle.
The dial of this Roger W. Smith Series 1 watch is what makes it unique. Again playing on silver tones, matching the case, it shows a combination of fine hand-applied techniques with suggestions from ACM. It features a hand-guilloché basket-weave pattern framed by two chapter rings with a brushed surface – one with baton markers and a 12 Roman numeral, the other one with black dots marking the seconds. The small seconds has its own guilloché pattern too, and the hands are the watchmaker’s classic spade tips scalloped by hand. An applied cartouche bears the name of the maker. Most of the simplicity of this watch is due to the replacement of almost all Roman numerals with simpler batons, resulting in a very simple, stripped-back dial.
Through the sapphire caseback, you’ll be able to see the in-house, typical British-style handmade movement. Plates and bridges are finely decorated and have a signature frosted finish over a gold colour, contrasting with the blued screws. It features Roger W. Smith’s single-wheel evolution of the Daniels Co-Axial escapement and a free-sprung Quadrajust balance. Note that the eventual buyer winner will also have the option to have his/her initials engraved on a cartouche on the movement.
For a good cause
While bidding on this unique Roger W. Smith Series 1, you’ll also be making an investment in British watchmaking. With 20 per cent of the profits from the sales of this Roger W Smith Series 1 being donated to the Alliance of British Watch and Clock Makers, the funds will be earmarked for a Careers Hub to connect horology students with career opportunities.
How to participate in the auction
This unique Roger W. Smith Series 1 will be offered for auction by A Collected Man on 11 November 2022 at 14:00 GMT, and it’ll run for precisely two weeks, ending on 25 November. Of course, no price can be given yet, as it’ll depend on the results of the auction, but know that the only other Series 1 offered publically reached USD 730,000 with Phillips Watches in December 2021. This will give you an idea of what to expect from this unique piece.
For more details, please consult the dedicated page at acollectedman.com.