ROGER SMITH - FOUNDER OF ROGER W SMITH

W4watch : Can you describe what’s in your hands ?

Mr. Roger Smith : This is my Series one. This is my very first production watch that i ever made. Completed in 2001, it has shaped every single watch that i made. That’s really what I wanted to do, a watch with a very strong British style.

So you decided to start your brand with a rectangular case. Why ?

When this was made (back in 2001), the rectangle shape was quite popular. Rectangular watches are lovely but back then, they had a round movement and i thought, it was really wrong. You should always have a rectangular movement in a rectangular case so that’s how it came about really. 

What was the reaction of the market/collectors ?

The first 9 pieces were sold very quickly and never stopped since. It’s been incredible! Almost 20 years.

Which escapement is in the “Series one” ?

This series of watches have a lever escapement. After completed those 9 watches, i thought : I’ve got to try to do something a little bit more serious! so from that point, i moved out to the co-axial escapement. I decided to do everything that we could in-house (all the wheels, pinions, plates…) so everything was made in-house from that point on.

 After all those years, what still motivates you in the Watchmaking industry ?

My interest is to improve the mechanical time keeping. I started to use the co-axial escapement in 2006. We’ve been studying and gradually improving it. So much so that now, we probably have the longest service out of all watchmakers. We have a very conservative 10 years service interval and we think, it could be a lot longer. Now, we’re looking into nano-technology. The biggest problem with mechanical watches is the lubrication. That’s why this wheel is in the showcase. That’s the first component to be coated with Nano-coating. 

What’s “Nano-coating”, exactly ?

It’s a coating applied to the components. Basically it’s a dry lubricant. We are still in the very early stage. The university we’re working with says : This thing will work! and in a couple of month, we’ll be fitting the new parts into some test pieces. In theory, the plan is to have complete oil less watch. Oil has always been the biggest problem in any watch, Breguet famously said : “Give me the perfect oil, i’ll give you the perfect watch”. So now, we need to put it in practice and see. Maybe after a year, we will say : It doesn’t work! but we’ve got to try it.

And How about new materials ?

I’m not interested on new materials. We use very basic steels, nickel silvers and things like this in my watches. 300 or 400 years ago, watches worked with these materials in and the great thing about this “Nano-coating” is that nothing materially has to change.

Can you be more precise about the expected results ?

Hopefully the efficiency will improve. That’s what we are going to look for. The work we have done over the years on the co-axial escapement improved the efficiency hugely. I’m looking for similar changes with the Nano-technology. Will it be a dramatic change? I don’t know, at this stage. but if we can further increase the service interval, it’s wonderful.

 

Thanks to Mr. Roger Smith for his time and the Auction House Phillips Bacs & Russo.