SMITHS '12.15' Cheltenham. No 3492


Very rare and very early Smiths wristwatch in lovely original condition, circa 1945/6.

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Dennison's stylish 3-part case with 'horned' lugs, the middle section mat chromed, the bezel polished chrome and with stainless-steel (DENISTEEL) back, case design No 12328, serial number 6985. Smiths 12.15 nickel finished movement, as originally designed by Rene Lenoir and his team 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 baton 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 3,492. This is one of the earliest examples I have 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. 

Smiths wristwatches are known in 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 and cleaned in the past, but it retains its original black leather strap and numbered tag (3493) that shows a hand written price of 1/17/6. The dial and chromed sections of the case in particularly good original condition. So original in fact that I have not serviced the watch and it is photographed in its uncleaned state in order that its condition can be better assessed. I would be happy to have the watch properly serviced at no additional cost to the buyer if required.