SMITHS '12.15' Cheltenham. No 6553


£ 495.00

Rare very early Smiths wristwatch, model 5RG, circa 1945/6.

More details

Dennison's stylish 3-part case with 'horned' lugs, case design No 12328, serial number 8561, the brass middle section mat chromed, with polished stainless-steel (DENISTEEL) bezel and snap-on back. Smiths 12.15 nickel finished movement, as originally designed by Rene Lenoir and his team (not Jaeger) around 1945. Double-roller detached lever escapement with steel club-tooth escape, the monometallic balance with timing screws and Beryllium balance-spring. Silvered two-tone 'art deco' dial with Smiths original and earlier style of blued-steel needle hands. Just over 31 mm diameter, not including button or lugs. 

An example of the very rare pre-prefix series, its number probably being the actual number of movements thus far produced by Smith, this being just 6,553. This is one of the earliest examples I have ever seen of Smiths new top quality wristwatches (from before they were given the De Luxe name) first available to the public from early in 1947. 

NB: Smiths wristwatches are known in gold cases bearing Birmingham hallmarks for 1946 (covering the period July '46 to June '47 in Birmingham) but none in cases from 1945 or before. My records show that these '46 cases contain pre-prefix, A- and B-prefix movements and some very early C-prefix examples. This suggests that Smiths ironed out production difficulties during the immediate postwar year of '46 and it was only when they felt that everything was under control that they were cased and advertised for sale, with the mix of early serial numbered examples all being part of this earliest commercial venture. Design and prototype production had begun prior to 1945, but this had been aimed at military, not civilian use.

For more information about Smiths English wristwatches see the short note in my website Glossary, and my illustrated article on Smiths ‘English Wristwatches’ in the April 2003 issue of Antique Collecting. NB: This case style is not waterproof and all Smiths wristwatches of this date are best kept well away from damp conditions. Please also be aware that most Smiths wristwatches that survive show all the signs of much use, often with water damage, particularly to the dial. I do not deal in such watches and offer only those examples that have survived in very good or better condition with original (as here) rather than refinished dials.

Not in mint condition as it has been worn, the chromed section of the case showing some wear and scratches and the button has been replaced, probably because it was easier to wind. The movement and dial in much better condition that is usual for these earliest model 5RG watches. 

A rare watch for the Smiths collector being among the first ten examples recorded by me. On an appropriate new/old stock black leather strap, serviced and guaranteed.