Dr. Roger W Smith OBE. The Watchmaker, is one of a handful of watchmakers in the world to master all 32 unique trades needed to make a watch by hand from raw materials. His creations are described by industry experts as “works of mechanical art” and are worth more than £250,000 each. The British Horological Institute’s educational officer Alan Burtost said Mr Smith is one of the finest watchmakers in the world.
Roger was born in Bolton, and he completed a Horology course run by the British Horological Institute (BHI) in Manchester. It was while Roger was working at TAG Heuer in Walkden that he wrote to Dr George Daniels CBE* for the first time asking to be his apprentice, he was told ‘No.’
In 1990 he started work in the family garage, making his first watch, that took a year to make, which when he showed it to George Daniels in 1992 Dr. Daniels noted the watch looked “too hand made.” He said, “A watch should seem to have simply appeared from thin air, without any sign of the maker other than the realisation of their aesthetic.” he effectively told him to ‘try again’.
Roger started again in 1992 and spent five and a half years making and remaking his second watch and in 1997 Roger handed George Daniels the finished watch, which he turned over in his hands, studying it closely. He asked Roger, “who made the case for you?”, to which Roger replied, “well, I did”. He then studied the front of the watch, looked up and said, “where did you get the dial made?” Roger responded, “I made the dial.” George then opened the back of the watch, took a look and said, “who made the tourbillon carriage for you?” To which Roger came back again with “I did.” “That’s a very nice escape wheel, where did you get that from?” “Well, I made it George.” With that final response he closed the back of the watch, stood up and said, “congratulations, you’re a watchmaker.”
Roger went to the Isle of Man to work for George Daniels, and in 1998 he invited him to live there.
In 2001 Roger established the Roger W Smith studio in the Isle of Man. Upon his death in October 2011, Dr George Daniels bequeathed his entire workshop to Roger Smith.
In 2018 Roger was awarded the OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list, for ‘outstanding services to watchmaking’.and the University of Birmingham conferred on him a Doctorate, honours causa.
In 2021 Roger completed his 100th watch.
Roger at work making his first pocket watch in his parent’s garage.
Roger’s Second Watch which was presented to Daniels
The movement of Roger’s 2020, Series 4 Watch.
*Dr. George Daniels, CBE, DSc, FBHI, FSA (19 August 1926 – 21 October 2011) is considered by many to have been the finest horologist in the world during his lifetime and indeed, the last 250 years. Dr. Daniels was perhaps most famous for inventing the Co-axial Escapement, which revolutionised mechanical watchmaking. This has been used by Omega in their highest-grade watches since 1999.