SMITHS '12.15' Cheltenham. No 8690


Very early Smiths wristwatch in good original condition, circa 1945.

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Dennison 3-part all-steel Dennison 'DENISTEEL' case: case style 12323, case number 6651. Very early nickel striped finished Smiths 12.15 movement, a rare and early example of the original numbered series that pre-dates the A-, B- and C-prefix series. Double-roller detached lever escapement with steel escape, the monometallic balance with beryllium balance-spring. Silvered dial with Smiths original and earlier style of blued-steel hands. 31 mm diameter, not including button or lugs. 

The early and heroic history of Smiths 12.15 production has not been properly written up, but this is a good example of Smiths Model 6RG (becoming RG.0506), one of the first three designs for their new top quality wristwatches from before they were given the De Luxe name. Made in Cheltenham, without any help from Jaeger please note, these were first marketed early in 1947. Smiths wristwatches are known in cases bearing Birmingham hallmarks from 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, plus 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 the movements 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. 

This example must rate as being amongst the very earliest of Smiths production, and is also very early for Dennison's wristwatch cases. Please also be aware that this watch has an all-steel case, the slightly later models were a combination of chromed cases with stainless steel backs - the chrome being highly prone to pitting.

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.

General signs of age and wear, but in more original and much better condition than most surviving early Smiths watches, even retaining the original plated (worn) button. The box is also a rare early 12.15 survival but bears a different but crossed out reference number, as so often seen with Smiths watches and their boxes. On contemporary and I think most appropriate new/old stock grey leather 'GENUINE CALFSKIN' leather strap. Presently being fully and properly serviced, and of course guaranteed to be as described.