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Thread: Flyaway Smiths at Cotswold auction room today

  1. #1
    Member MR.H's Avatar
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    Default Flyaway Smiths at Cotswold auction room today

    Well I thought (wrongly) that I might pick up cheaply a few interesting looking Smiths today, what looked like a Smith's in a Tuna can, maybe a MK-X & military De-Luxe dials etc

    All went to Internet bidders (hammer prices are w/o commissions) Commissions*: 27.60% inc. VAT/sales tax + 3% Saleroom fee

    Lot#386 hammered at 6500 estimate was just 40-60
    https://www.the-saleroom.com/en-gb/a...a-a77100991749
    screen grab

    Lot #387 sold 4200
    https://www.the-saleroom.com/en-gb/a...a-a77100991813
    adult picture hosting
    God knows what people saw especially with the live online announcement that 2 watches had been removed from the group & without a fresh picture

    Lot#415 1700 not a bad buy for someone if they needed a De-luxe dial, possibly 3 mil dials total
    https://www.the-saleroom.com/en-gb/a...e-a7710099341a
    pictures upload

    Regards
    Mr.H

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    Member hookedseven's Avatar
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    Yes... unbelievable content and it turns out lots of interest !

    Lot 386 also had a Weems in it (on a brown leather strap, completely hidden under the modern case in the photograph). Lot 415 had two De Luxe FA movements and dials. Lot 400 had 1 De Luxe midcase, and a handful of sterile backs plus a TA dial. I tried hard for 400+415 but fell short. The tactic was to win 400 first. I "think" that maybe they went to someone here.

    And whats "adult picture hosting" ?

  3. #3
    Member MR.H's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hookedseven View Post
    Yes... unbelievable content and it turns out lots of interest !

    Lot 386 also had a Weems in it (on a brown leather strap, completely hidden under the modern case in the photograph). Lot 415 had two De Luxe FA movements and dials. Lot 400 had 1 De Luxe midcase, and a handful of sterile backs plus a TA dial. I tried hard for 400+415 but fell short. The tactic was to win 400 first. I "think" that maybe they went to someone here.

    And whats "adult picture hosting" ?
    Missed the Weems, De-luxe midcase & FA movements, so lots 400 + 415 went for under 5k seems realistic

    Advertising from Postimage.org theyre quick to use image resizing no expiry etc, just you have to put up with a little advertising below your pics, I've given up on PhotoBucket & don't even click through sales pictures for a larger image anymore. I think all Postimage pics are public

    Regards
    Mr.H

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    Member isologue's Avatar
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    I suspect you'll hear more about this auction as people return home, so I won't butt in except to say that I thought the lot including the LC Weems went cheap: it was unmarked, and close to mint, possibly Smiths' own reference piece? The two other items of interest in that lot were pretty nice too.

    Regards,

    Martin (isologue)

    P.S. Before you ask, I wasn't there and I didn't bid on anything.

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    Super Moderator dave's Avatar
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    certainly looks like a Mark X on a nice strap.

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    Member hookedseven's Avatar
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    I only pointed out the questionable link as I fear one day I will inadvertently cut and paste something that shows my own dubious browsing habits

    The two lots 400+415 went for fractionally less than my max budget, but once I missed out on 400 I didn't see much point chasing 415. I would have loved to have them, but it wasn't to be. Lots 386 and 387 were probably a once in a lifetime opportunity. I really hope they found a home here.

  7. #7
    Member hookedseven's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dave View Post



    certainly looks like a Mark X on a nice strap.
    Yes it does... and what's far right in lot 386...

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    Super Moderator dave's Avatar
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    a centre seconds version on a not so nice strap.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dave View Post
    certainly looks like a Mark X on a nice strap.
    I'm sure all will be revealed in due course: my personal highlight was an empty IWC Mark 11 case (1951 issue I think) with Bonklip attached unlike anything I've seen before - small extension link with at least another length added. Oh, and skinny width links. Could this have been the sample acquired by Smiths whilst they were building a 'Navigator' as mentioned in documents recently unearthed?

    Regards,

    Martin (isologue)

    P.S. To whet the appetite:




    P.P.S. (Below) I got a bit of smiths fatigue: the aficionados will report back. I don't think anything was overlooked.....! Except I think that box marked navigator was empty- stuff was scattered around the lots quite randomly.

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    Member hookedseven's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by isologue View Post
    I'm sure all will be revealed in due course: my personal highlight was an empty IWC Mark 11 case (1951 issue I think) with Bonklip attached unlike anything I've seen before - small extension link with at least another length added. Oh, and skinny width links. Could this have been the sample acquired by Smiths whilst they were building a 'Navigator' as mentioned in documents recently unearthed?

    Regards,

    Martin (isologue)
    On the subject of Navigators, there was an interestingly named box on the far upper-right side of lot 378.

    https://www.the-saleroom.com/en-gb/a...f-a771009910fe

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    Order of the Invisible Ethereal Electron with Crossed Wizard's Wands

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    Did they mention the source for these items - watchmakers estate ??

    IAP
    Order of the Invisible Ethereal Electron with Crossed Wizard's Wands

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    Super Moderator dave's Avatar
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    Auction Location: Cheltenham, Glos..

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    Quote Originally Posted by ianp View Post
    Did they mention the source for these items - watchmakers estate ??

    IAP
    I asked and they did the usual blank refusal and wouldn't even give a sanitised account to me, apart from the fact that the materials had come from an estate. Others on here may have got more but the material looks as though it came from the more interesting aspects of smiths production: pristine Quasars with handwritten tags from 1974 confirming temperature test results etc? One singular example of every interesting watch from smiths early wristwatch production?

    Regards,

    Martin (isologue)

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    Well that was one hell of a sale. I sat through it with John Senior and it was incredible.

    So here's my story.

    A couple of weeks ago a member here sent me a PM with the unpromising title “Smiths cases”. I was busy and left it and forgot all about and when I finally got round to looking at it there was a link to this auction. I clicked. The pictures took my breath away. I literally had to sit down. The more I looked through the lots, the more astonished I was. This member wanted the GS De Luxe parts (lots 400 & 415) and I made it clear I wanted the two Mk Xs (centre- and sub- seconds, lots 387 & 386 – to his credit, he’d already spotted the subsecond one).

    I then brought another mwr member into our confidence and asked him to scope out the auction in person as he local to that part of the world (and it can't be a coincidence that this sale took place there).

    He went along for a rummage. He turned over the pigskin strap in lot 386 to reveal an unmarked / unissued LeCoultre Weems. So this lot now had THREE ultra rare Smiths military watches: 1.) the centre-seconds Mk X (only one other known, in the Clockmakers' Museum within the Science Museum, see my thread on this forum about that). 2.) The COSD Smiths 1215 with a very early serial number (wish I'd written it down, it was an early C-series; I’ll get the s/n from the buyer and date it from that – yes, I know who he is). It had the correct spacer ring (i.e. not a shimmed bodge job) but the case was unplated (Dennison pre-prediction sample? Chrome was rationed during the Korean war and plating on early ‘50s Dennisons is often very thin.) 3.) The LC Weems -- which I take to be Smiths' own in-house retained reference example.

    Well, sez I, that could be ten grand's worth o' watches just there in that one lot. Trouble is that Tuna Can stands out like base-metal sore thumb so maybe it will get spotted, but even if it does no-one knows about the Weems as it doesn’t show in the online pictures . . . . So, we'll see.

    Meanwhile, over at the next lot (387) no surprises but a nice Smiths Auto that I thought would attract attention (it did, but of the wrong sort: it got nicked!) and maybe some bids. I was hoping the sub second Mk X would go under the radar and I'd get that job lot for a few hundred quid.

    So yesterday, the day before the auction, I went down and met up with my member on the ground who’d sent me the pics. We got to the Auction House at about 16:30 for the pre sale viewing. I had my, ah, "work clothes" on (not the full kit!) as I’d come straight from, well, work. No sooner was I though the door than I was met with a broad Yorkshire brogue saying: “You must be Revo!” The man had a loupe clipped to his specs and I confessed he had me at a disadvantage: I am indeed he; but who, sir, are you?

    “John Senior!”

    Well that was nice to put a face to the name! We’ve had mutually beneficial dealings in the past and he’s a great guy in the flesh. Except I wished he was in the bloody flesh. Not there, not then. No-one was supposed to know about this.

    It turns out he knew of other mwr members who also knew and the cat was well and truly out of the bag.

    Bugger.

    Well, he and I and the local member went through the most interesting lots it was clear that the auction house had no idea what they had on their hands.

    And annoyingly the Smiths Auto had been “lifted” – but that was the obvious choice, you can Google that but you can’t check on the market value of prototype COSD Smiths . . . . (Edit: also no serial numbers on the 25 jewel autos so untraceable).

    We told the ladies there what was what and they duly stowed the stash in the safe with notes as to which watches belonged to which lots.

    So come the day – this morning – I went down at 09.30 with my bag of peanuts and watched as the 25 starting prices were quickly left behind. Estimates of 40-60 were out by a factor of 100 on some lots.

    I duly placed bids on the GS De Luxe lots on behalf of the mwr member who’d originally tipped me off but even his generous upper limits were smashed in a frenzy of internet bidding, ably aided and abetted by Mr S in the room.

    So. That was that.

    (If you want a laugh, I borrowed 750 from my dad for this sale, hoping to scoop lots 387 & 386 with plenty of change to spare – perhaps for a bid on some of the other lots . . . ? Ha bloody ha.)

    The very interesting thing is the number of prototypes and experimental pieces in this auction: from the Mk X in 1942 to the “Quasar” in 1974 -- which was Smiths’ disastrous attempt at a quartz-era electronic watch (too late to the market, too expensive but entirely designed and made in-house, which is why it almost bankrupted them).

    Loads of parts and bits and boxes and dials and . . . well, it was the Smiths motherlode.

    One thing that has occurred to me as footnote. The Mk Xs: there are now seven known examples: five of the subsecond variant and two of the centre-second (include those in this sale).

    The Mk X movement is basically a very early iteration of what would become the “1215” and stay in production for about 20 years. The Mk X has the winding gear screw in “upside down” compared to the later 1215 i.e. the screwhead is visible in the top plate, between the crown stem and the middle pinion as per the pics here:

    http://www.mwrforum.net/forums/showt...X-in-the-wild)

    Also the Mk X has a 13 ligne base plate so it overlaps the rest of the movement which is 12 linge (that’s the “12” in “1215” – the “15” is the number of jewels).

    Now, when Smiths finally did make a centre-second movement in 1954 (the 27CS) they still used the 1215 as the base ebauche and added the bridge and wheels on top to convert to sweep seconds -- but the centre seconds Mk X is the same movement as the subsecond version only with the extra gearing added below.

    That much I think is common knowledge (or common conjecture) as the subsecond Mk X also differs from the 1215 by having holes pre-drilled in the plates ready for converting to the centre-seconds mechanism.

    All of this pretty much represents the sum total of our collective knowledge about these movements. (See also Ken’s excellent extracts from the archives about the order and the specifications and dates and quantities etc.)

    But one that I’ve never heard mentioned is why they are completely sterile. I have a theory (and this might be nuts but bear with me) as why the Mk Xs are completely sterile bar the “Dennison” in the caseback.

    Could it be to keep the origins of these wristwatches secret from the Germans in the very likely event that any aircrew were shot down while wearing one? It was important that the Germans didn’t know the true extent of our manufacturing capabilities. And specifically our ability to make wristwatches accurate enough for the 6B/159 designation. The “Dennison” script inside the caseback wouldn’t be a giveaway as we were casing up any number of Swiss makes in them anyway. But the dial and movement of the Mk X is deliberately unsigned to hide and preserve the truth of their Cotswold origins.

    Is that a crazy theory? Too fanciful? Or straightforward common sense in wartime Britain? The fact that they also look a lot like the JLC is purely coincidental and surely cannot be construed as an attempt to mislead . . . .

    Edit: the centre-seconds Mk X appeared to have the wrong caseback, a later one. Nice tight fit but not right. Best guess: replacement for the engraved issued one.
    "Early this year I saw ex-army watches exhibited in a showcase at a little under 4 each. A week or two later I succeeded in buying one of them for 5. Recently their price seems to have risen to 8." (George Orwell, "As I Please", Tribune, 29th November 1946)

  17. #17
    Senior Member Seiji's Avatar
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    Interesting, I must have been asleep when new broke about Smiths inside of COSD cases. Can you tell us more about them?

  18. #18
    Moderator Revo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seiji View Post
    Interesting, I must have been asleep when new broke about Smiths inside of COSD cases. Can you tell us more about them?
    The news didn't break and no, we can't tell you any more about "them" (i.e. it).

    Sorry. This looks like Smiths' R&D dept. sale -- experimental and prototype pieces -- and the tooling to make them (lathes, drills, gear cutters, spare parts), a whole watchmaker's worskshop.
    "Early this year I saw ex-army watches exhibited in a showcase at a little under 4 each. A week or two later I succeeded in buying one of them for 5. Recently their price seems to have risen to 8." (George Orwell, "As I Please", Tribune, 29th November 1946)

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    Super Moderator dave's Avatar
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    just fantastic; the, uh, stuff that dreams are made of..

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    Really good reading revo, you captured the sense occasion.

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