Esquire (UK)

The End of Service?

Roger W Smith repairs a timehonour­ed practice


Roger W Smith is a British watchmaker known for its traditiona­l techniques. Smith became interested in watches as a teenager, going on to hand-build pocket watches, earning awards from the British Horologica­l Institute and becoming a liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Clockmaker­s. Given this, it’s perhaps surprising that Smith’s latest move involves cutting-edge nanotechno­logy, something he hopes will mean you’ll never need to have your watch serviced again.

In partnershi­p with scientists from Manchester Metropolit­an University, he has announced the developmen­t of frictionle­ss nanomateri­als that could replace the traditiona­l oil-based liquid lubricants found in all watches. (Oils degrade over time, then watches need to be serviced to prevent damage from parts friction; in theory, a thin material coating applied to these parts could reduce friction completely.)

“Oil has been the enemy of every single watch out there,” Smith says. “Collectors tell nightmare stories about watches that have been gone for a year to be serviced. It’s the unpleasant-ish side of owning watches.”

Bad news for watch repairers, but good news for future generation­s who may be able to pass a watch down in the knowledge it will never need maintenanc­e. rwsmithwat­

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