Sotheby’s sale of two George Daniels x Roger Smith watches had a record-breaking result Sotheby’s sale of two George Daniels x Roger Smith watches had a record-breaking result

Sotheby’s sale of two George Daniels x Roger Smith watches had a record-breaking result

Zach Blass

When a big auction house presents their latest catalogue of lots, it is expected that it will be filled with various Rolex and Patek Philippe watches. But, it is not an everyday occurence for two incredibly rare and historically significant watches from the likes of George Daniels and Roger W. Smith to pop up – no less in the same auction. On November 5, two Daniels watches from a single consigner went under the hammer at Sotheby’s Geneva. Rather than the traditional estimate range of CHF X – Y, the estimates were instead set with the prefix of ‘in excess ofThis was an apt move, considering it was rather safe to assume the minimum amount of money the watches would go for. The maximum, however, had no limit in potential. Clearly the case, as both lots went well beyond the minimum amount of Swiss francs they were expected to go in excess of, with one lot even breaking the record for the most expensive watch ever sold that was made by Roger Smith.


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A post shared by Roger Smith OBE (@rogerwsmithltd)

After both lots were sold, the two concluding lots of the entire auction, Roger Smith took to instagram to celebrate both phenomenal results.

Smith captioned his post: “History in the making – with a new world record! Still processing yesterday’s record-breaking results at Sotheby’s ‘Important Watches’ auction in Geneva! It was quite emotional to see the Millennium watch, which was the only piece George Daniels double-signed with me, sell for 2,177,500 CHF ($2,422,142 / 18,952,599 HKD). Against an estimate of 1,000,000 CHF, it’s the highest price ever achieved for one of my wristwatches and I’d like to think George would have been very proud to see it do so well. I’m also delighted that it went to a very discerning collector. The Anniversary watch which also sold yesterday was my final collaboration with George and I was glad to see it achieve a commensurately strong price of 736,600 CHF ($819,357 / 6,411,244 HKD) which was well over the estimate. Thank you to Benoit Colson for masterfully conducting the sales and to all at Sotheby’s for their hard work in the lead up to the auction.”

Roger Smith would also go on to elaborate to Sotheby’s in a press release he was ecstatic his Millenium watch went to a collector he knew was not only very keen to acquire it, but also a collector who was keen to actually wear it daily rather than keep it in a safe. This is wonderful news for a watchmaker like Smith, who would much rather see his creations worn and put to use rather then become a safe queen that never sees the light of day outside of an auction house.

Lot 97: A unique George Daniels, London Millennium gifted from Daniels to Roger W. Smith

Sothebys George Daniels Millenium

To recap, the first of the two George Daniels x Roger Smith watches came from ‘The Millenium series’, and this was the first project Smith was tasked with by Daniels – completed over three years (1998 – 2001). Of the 60 Millenium watches made, this particular piece stands out because it was not only the last Millenium watch to be completed in 2001, but also Smith’s personal watch. In lieu of a bonus that year, Smith negotiated with Daniels that he would instead receive a Millenium watch for himself and, furthermore, he received permission to have his own name co-signed on the watch as well – the first and only time a Daniels watch has ever had a co-signed dial.

Estimate: in excess of CHF 1,000,000. Result: CHF 2,177,500.

Lot 98: An early George Daniels, London Anniversary Number 01

Sothebys George Daniels Anniversary

Also very special was the Co-Axial Anniversary watch, number 01, auctioned just after the Millenium watch. It was the very first watch made in the legendary Co-Axial Anniversary series and was completed in 2012. It also had the distinction of being one of only two from the series (including the prototype) to have been worked on while George Daniels was still alive. The Co-Axial Anniversary series marked the first time a watch signed with Daniels was made by someone other than himself, instead entrusted to his protege Roger W. Smith to complete the commissioned orders. This series marked the transition of Smith from student to collaborator, as he was not only the watchmaker executing the creation of the series, but he was also responsible for the new British calibre, of his own design, used in the Anniversary Series –  which included Smith’s refined single-wheel co-axial escapement.

Estimate: in excess of CHF 500,000. Result: CHF 736,600.