To cap off a most interesting piece of research during the past few months, I was lucky enough to enlist the help of some past Smiths employees. Some are already sadly no longer with us, but their opinion on this watch has been an eye opener.
if you read back to the previous blog on the watch, we discussed a possible military link. I can’t actually share what I was told regarding the WW2 military contracts beyond sharing that they were messy and maybe one of the downfall of the Smiths brand was how ‘straight’ they played things.
The case of the watch is almost certainly of military origin. Dennison owned a percentage ownership in Omega so it is quite probable that this is the origin of the case, surplus’s ex-military stock.
I also had it confirmed that the movement was one of the first to come off the Smiths production line in the early/mid 40s.
In the opinion of the former employees, this watch is the prototype for the Everest Range watches, a prototype A401 which they created before settling on the Dennison Aquatite cases we know and love.
Having spoken to both sales and manufacturing members…neither had come across it which seems to confirm that it only belonged in the ‘planning offices’ as Smiths looked to expand their range from the 1215s we know and love.
They confirmed the model had never been commercial but fascinatingly, the movement seems to have been manufactured to fit the case rather than the other way around which would mean that this watch would come to dictate the size of the movements that followed.
So in summary…the watch is an important part of Smiths history as it was the very first step on the way to the Everest Range watches we know today. They couldn’t date it as the parts come from 3 different sources but all confirmed it was from the mid 1940s as Smiths looked to expand into the ‘expedition’ market.
Sadly this will be the last time I’m able to speak with some of my sources. As the days go by…there’s are fewer and fewer who remember the very early days at Smiths Cheltenham. I’m glad I had the opportunity to find them.