Even though George Daniels has passed away a few years ago in some regards his spirit lives on in the work of Roger Smith. Daniels’ protege and also an independent watch maker located on the Isle of Man, Roger still works hard to maintain the standards that George Daniels set out for him during his time working under Daniels – a master watchmaker. Among those mandates were that all watches needed to be made by hand, using hand-made parts, and of course, completely decorated by hand. Some of the techniques used in his watch are hundreds of years old while others are the inventions of George Daniels or Roger Smith themselves. In any event, these are watches built mostly as one-of-a-kind creations, such as the recently completed GREAT Britain by order of the English government.
Roger Smith produces about 10 or so timepieces per a year. If you realize just how long it takes him to make each then you understand how that actually sounds like a lot. It takes the man a few days just to produce and polish the hands. The dial of the GREAT Britain watch with its Union flag motif apparently took months (more on that later). Guess what happens if he messes something up? Yea, it all needs to start from the beginning. Smith doesn’t use computerized CNC equipment to produce the small parts that go in his watches, and further takes a distinct pride in keeping this type of craftsmanship alive. The real message is in the result, which illustrates how hand-made watch parts have a very different look than those produced in a machine.
So what is this unique GREAT Britain watch? Aren’t all of Roger Smith’s watches great… and from Great Britain? aBlogtoWatch debuted the GREAT Britain watch here. This was just after it was completed and delivered to the Prime Minister’s office. The office of Prime Minister David Cameron commissioned the watch along with other bespoke items of English craftsmanship in 2012 as part of the celebration for the London Olympics. Roger Smith completed the watch late in 2013 – which is actually fast given the process and that he needed to fulfill existing orders. Smith wanted to not only create yet another English hand-made timepiece, but one that he felt clearly communicated his love of “Queen and country.”
The dial of the GREAT Britain is the most complicated element of the entire watch. Not only is it a totally unique design, but it incorporates so many techniques and individually-made components. You should already know that Roger Smith makes each hand in painstaking detail. These are cut, formed, polished, and flame blued – all by hand. What is also flame blued on this piece are the applied Roman numeral hour markers. This is something I’ve personally never seen before and it looks very good offering an attractive element which is also every legible.
The face itself is designed to look like part of the British Union flag, though it is an off-centered view with a variety of different guilloche machine engravings on distinct areas. The dial is actually in sterling silver, and actually made up of many smaller parts that needed to be soldered together. According to Roger Smith, the dial not only sets new standards for independent British watchmaking, but also took a full three months to complete. Yes, just the dial. Smith feels comfortable saying that it may be among (or is) the most difficult watch dial(s) ever produced by hand.
Also made by hand, in three separate parts, is the case which is platinum. Given that the base of the watch uses Roger Smith’s Series 2 collection as a foundation, the case is more than likely 40mm wide. The dial offers just the time with a subsidiary seconds dial. This is less than the Series 2 that also features a power reserve indicator. You really have to appreciate the amazing three-dimensionality to the dial which is not only difficult to achieve, but also so masterfully makes the GREAT Britain a piece that will be admired years from now.