It would be callous of me not to discuss this lot. The circular Series I is Roger Smith’s recent time-only master stroke. Confusingly, it comes after the Series II, which came after the square Series I. Despite it being one of Mr Smith’s more recent productions, the watch is as special as anything to leave the Isle of Man. If this begins to sound like an advertisement for Roger Smith, I must apologize. While I strive to maintain a degree of half-hearted impartiality here whilst still giving opinions and under-developed thoughts, I can recognize a worthless attempt when I see one. I won’t be able to describe this watch with anything other than hyperbolic adoration, as this is the first ever Series 1 (that is to say number 1, Series 1) from one of the most accomplished contemporary independents.
Tucked away in the quiet, unassuming coast of the Isle of Man is the man working to make wristwatches after my own heart, one Roger W Smith, OBE. Uncommonly, Mr. Smith judges his work not by number, scale, or profitability of his company but by its mechanical artistry alone. He believes in the Daniels method: that one man should be responsible for the design, machining, and assembling of a piece. This philosophy is doubly appropriate, as he is George Daniel’s prodigy and the man carrying the flag for the Co-Axial escapement in independent horology. All of this sums to small numbers of absolutely staggering mechanical art, as you can see. One very rarely sees his work come up for sale. The man will only produce about ten watches each year, allowing each to be its own memento to mechanical artistry. Almost no one ever sells what Mr. Smith creates for them. Why on Earth would you.
Nonetheless, that’s where we are today: an original owner parting with a monumental piece. In 2013, Mr Smith was invited to participate in the GREAT Britain campaign, to showcase the innovative contemporary British watchmaking. The organizers could not have chosen wiser. Mr Smith created a piece unique ‘The GREAT Britain’, a platinum cased time-only piece which wove in a British flag motif to the dialwork. In his own words, he was then ‘inundated with requests for a time-only piece’. The new (or second) Series one was then created. The watch features a 40mm pink gold case, co-axial calibre designed and hewn by the man himself, and classic English watch finishing styles (frosted and gilded plates, floral hand-engraved bridges, applied crest of the Isle). This is unarguably some of the very best in modern independent horology. As if that weren’t enough, this Series 1 is the first ever to leave the factory after The GREAT Britain. It comes with the lightest of wear and a full set.
Find this Series I here as part of Phillips 2021 New York Watch Auction set to hammer 11 Dec (estimated 111K-222K CHF).