Roger W. Smith LTD: The WatchmakerLuxury watchmaker, Dr. Roger W. Smith OBE of Roger W. Smith LTD took some time to discuss with us his business and life in the Isle of Man.
Roger, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us! Let’s jump right in. Can you tell us a bit about what you do in the Isle of Man?
Roger W. Smith Ltd is a luxury watchmaker. We only make 10 watches per year as each is handcrafted according to the Daniels Method, a technique developed in the Isle of Man by the great Dr George Daniels.
This sounds like a very precise and exclusive method. How did you end up collaborating with Dr Daniels?
I always had an aptitude for mechanical things as a child and, after a fairly uninspiring time at school, I enrolled on a course at the Manchester School of Horology when I was 16. This was a revelation; a defining chapter of my education and it was here that I met Dr George Daniels who inspired me to realise that it might just be possible to make a watch.
After seven years and two prototypes, he finally invited me to join him at his workshop in the Isle of Man and this was best finishing school I could have ever had. Eventually I set up my own studio, Roger W. Smith Ltd, in 2001.
How does your studio differ from other watchmakers?
We are the only watchmaker in the world which chooses to handcraft a watch from start to finish. Every single mechanical component is handcrafted within our studio and so our watches are regarded as being among the most exclusive in the world.
Roger W Smith LTD Series 4 watch, the most complex in the range.
Photography by: Ian Pilbeam
Roger, are you originally from the Island?
I was born in Manchester and moved to the Isle of Man to work with George Daniels. I fell in love with the Isle of Man as a place to live and work and have been very happily settled here ever since with my family.
Do you feel that living in the Isle of Man has helped support your business?
We have a supportive and accessible government which is important for any business to thrive whether large or small. Although I do have to travel to see clients, this is a short hop to London and, in fact, many of my clients enjoy visiting the Isle of Man to see me.
The Isle of Man’s decades as an international finance centre have also helped the Island to develop an international business outlook well beyond what you might expect for a relatively small community such as ours.
How has the Isle of Man benefitted your personal life?
The Island is a wonderful place to achieve that essential work/life balance. I’ve heard it described as offering a ‘25th hour’ each day and I know what people mean by that - because there’s no real commute and everything is on your doorstep, you simply have more time to yourself every day.
It’s the perfect place to live if you have interests outside work, or simply like to have time to enjoy yourself more.
And what types of things do you enjoy in the Island? What does your typical weekend look like?
I enjoy mountain biking and as previously mentioned I can leave the house and be cycling up a stunning hill path only 500 yards away.
I have restored a classic 1967 Mini Cooper and love to take this out on the Island’s country road and in the summer I really enjoy days out with my family; the beach is never far away and my passion for all things mechanical means I really enjoy days out on our steam trains with the kids.
On the occasions when we have babysitters, there are lots of excellent restaurants around the Island now and we’ve noticed a major improvement over the last few years with all sorts of eateries opening up and offering every sort of international cuisine.