Rare Roger W. Smith Series 2 Open Dial offered for sale at Wristcheck
‘May you live in interesting times’. The apocryphal saying that quietly asserts the benefits of boring consistency over unpredictable turbulence can certainly be applied to the secondary watch market at the moment. Prices for many of the vaunted hype watches are softening, and stock is becoming easier to find. However, there’s a massive caveat — and that’s that the truly, actually rare stuff, the highest of high quality, is still performing exceptionally well. Perhaps the best example of this is the independents. Independents like Roger W. Smith, the legendary Isle of Man-based maker, the only protégé of George Daniels. A man who has, since 2021, quietly been making a handful of watches every year the old-fashioned way, in his quiet studio.
The Rise of Roger W. Smith
Roger W. Smith watches don’t come up for sale too often, but when they do, the results are always impressive. Phillips, for example, sold Smith’s Pocket Watch Number Two in 2023, resulting in a $4.9 million dollar sale. That watch was particularly special, but even regular production wristwatches are inching closer to the seven-figure bracket. All this makes Wristcheck’s upcoming sale of a rare Roger W. Smith Series 2 Open Dial in a prototype 40mm white gold case a sale to watch.
The watch is — as you would expect — stunning. Delivered in 2010, it’s meticulously hand-finished, with a single-wheel version of the Daniels Co-axial escapement and free-sprung Quadrajust balance. The barrel bridge and balance cock are engraved with English floral designs, and finished with frosted and gilded plates. As you’d expect at this level, the movement is fitted with gold chatons and flame-hued screws in blue/purple. What sets this example above the regular Open Dials is its place in the evolution of Smith’s designs. Roger W. Smith explains, “This Series 2 Open Dial watch in white gold is particularly important to me, being the first of my Open Dial watches to be housed in a 40mm case. Of note is the fact that the watch has the first of my evolutions of the co-axial escapement. This ‘Mark 1’ escapement represents one of the milestones in my quest to continue improving on George Daniels’s original concept. There are only ten of my Open Dials in existence with this particular escapement, and one of the gratifying aspects of watches such as this one being made available again is to have the chance to experience it once again. It brings back many special memories.”
Almost as remarkable as the watch itself is the story of how it was acquired. Mister Phillip Pon, is the original owner of the watch, he purchased it in 2010, not through the typical process of enquiry and order, but rather at a dinner party. Pon attended a dinner with some of the world’s greatest watchmakers, including Kari Voutilainen, Romain Gauthier, Ludovic Ballouard and of naturally, Roger W. Smith. At this point, Pon owned a watch from all the makers in attendance, except for Smith, and expressed his desire to change that situation. According to Wristcheck, Smith was sufficiently moved to unveil from his pocket a watch that he had personally crafted and offered it to Mr. Pon – upon which the transaction promptly took place.
Ten years on, the sale of this watch won’t be taking place at a dinner party, but rather over at Wristcheck. Enquiries on the watch are open until the 22nd of September, with a starting price of $1.15 million US.
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FROM THE SHOP
|Self-winding caliber BR.CAL-301; 42-hour power reserve
|Hours, minutes, small seconds, chronograph and date
|41mm; CuAI7Si2 bronze; water resistant to 100m
|Sunray brushed with applied, gold-plated indices
|Black calfskin; satin polished bronze folding clasp
|Limited edition of 50 pieces