Smiths Deluxe / Austin Motors (1954)
The two tone dial is in super condition, indeed the whole watch seems to have been rather rarely worn and I'm tempted to think it may even be on the original strap - it's certainly period correct.
The three-piece case was made by BWC in 9 carat rose gold and feels well proportioned with strong, thick lugs. The use of rose gold is fairly unusual for Smiths as the vast majority of their gold cases were made in yellow gold. BWC was the London based British Watch Case Company, slightly oddly they hallmarked their cases in Edinburgh, as is the case here which bears the date Edinburgh hallmark for 1954 (letter Y).
The Smiths cal 1215 is in good condition, it doesn't have shock protection on the balance but has been serviced and is running well. The case has been ultrasonically cleaned but otherwise left untouched - as we do with all our vintage watches. Ready to wear and be enjoyed!
Case diameter: 32mm
Case material: 9 carat rose gold
Strap width: 16mm
time keeping: grade A
Smiths were the last English producers of quality watches. Their watches aren't very well known today because it's over 30 years since they stopped production, but the quality of their watches bears comparison with anything the Swiss were producing. Smiths produced a variety of styles of watch for both ladies and gentlemen in chrome, steel, silver and gold cases. The gold cased watches were particularly popular as long-service presentation gifts and the casebacks are often engraved with a presentation inscription. We don't remove these inscriptions as we feel they are an important part of the story of each watch. They developed an automatic movement watch and also were contracted by the British army to produce a wristwatch for general service use (the automatic and the military Smiths are amongst the most sought after and command high prices).
These days we associate the Swiss with high end mechanical watches, but in the 19th century it was English watches that occupied this prestigious position. The Swiss began to compete with the English watchmakers by producing low cost watches. The English were slow to adapt to this new competitor, they took great pride in the relatively small volume of high-quality hand made watches that were produced in England. The Swiss gradually swamped the watch market - beginning with low cost watches, later they produced watches of a comparable quality to the English hand-made watch, but at a lower price. The Swiss developed machine production of watches, this meant that the quality could be kept consistent and replacement parts were interchangeable. Ultimately the English industry couldn't compete and by the early 1930s pretty much all watches were imported.
In the run up to the second world war, the government became concerned that there was no indigenous watch industry left. They turned to S. Smith & Sons who were a long established a watch and clock producer and underwrote the development of a new factory in Cheltenham. Precise timing mechanisms were important for the war in things like bomb timers, as well as more traditional time pieces.
After the second world war, Smiths switched over to civilian production with the first of their watches coming onto the market in 1947. They continued production up until the late 1970s, when they rather suddenly split up the watch and clock division of the company. By this time Smiths Industries was more focussed on civil and military avionics and probably felt that the watches were part of their past. It seems odd that nobody else sought to take over the business as they were clearly profitable, possibly the impact of quartz watches was a factor in their decision to end the business
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