Roger W. Smith OBE – Watchmaker
Published on Wednesday 27th of October 2021
Roger Smith was born in 1970, in Bolton, near Manchester, England. From a very early age was interested in machinery rather than the normal subjects at school. He showed more of a practical side at school than an academic side and at the age of 16, after advice from his father, he enrolled in the Manchester School of Horology. On the first day he was hooked and progressed so well he received the British Horology Institute’s Bronze medal for obtaining the highest mark of the year, also finishing the top his class.
Whilst attending the Manchester School of Horology, Roger heard a lecture by George Daniels, the legendary watchmaker. After listening to him he knew he wanted to handmake timepieces. Using George Daniels book ‘Watchmaking’, as a guide, Roger started making his first pocket watch in his spare time. At the age of 22, Roger took this completed pocket watch to George Daniels home on the Isle of Man looking for the approval of the Master watchmaker.
George inspected his work and commentated that his pocket watch looked handmade and advised to start again and ‘create’ a timepiece. Roger realized what he needed to do from that point onwards and he took to heart George’s words in what was involved in making a watch in the Daniels way.
He went back to his workshop and started to improve the skills he needed to make a timepiece in The Daniels Method, spending five years to complete this project. Roger now knew that George Daniels was a perfectionist and nothing else than 100% would do, because as the entire watch industry knew, George is widely recognized as the greatest horologist of the last 200 years.
Roger had finally got the grade and skills needed to be a master watchmaker. In 1998 he was invited to join George Daniels in the Isle of Man. Passing the great master watchmakers tests made the man we know today and Roger joined George as a collaborator rather than an apprentice. In the same year Roger helped make George Daniels iconic ‘Daniels Millennium’ series, taking another three years to complete.
Living and working on the Isle of Man made Roger so happy he wanted to settle and set up his own workshop and this happened in 2001 with his own company and premises.
Roger then started producing his magnificent timepieces. His first range was named the Series 1, having an oblong case with a retrograde complicated calendar – a completely hand made timepiece. Series 2 was to be even more spectacular using the Daniels co-axial (the most technically advancement in escapements for centuries) within another unique style of watch.
In 2009, Roger and George started to craft a range of watches to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the invention of the co-axial escapement. These timepieces were completed in 2011 and turned out to be the very last project that George Daniels was involved with as he passed away in October of the same year aged 85.
Roger was also involved as an ambassador for the London Olympic Games as he signifies creativity, craftsmanship and inventorship of the British people. The next series of watches that came along were The Great British, again consisting of a level of unbelievable quality, detail and uniqueness.
Roger has continued to strive to make the very best and to improve many features of his watches, he successfully managed to reduce the weight of the escape wheel in the co-axial by 23%, making this more accurate and more reliable. Roger was honored, in 2018, with being awarded an OBE in the Queen’s birthday honors list. This shows what this master watchmaker has done not only for the watch industry but for British industry too.
Series 4, contained his 100th watch, took 5 years of design and production and would be a watch that any collector would like to own. This has a gold plaque on the watch engraved with ‘The 100th R.W. SMITH’ and a travelling aperture with a calendar complication. With what Roger has created so far, I am sure we cannot wait to see what he can produce in the years to come, the possibilities are endless.
Author: M Flanders