Smiths

Smiths was the last UK manufactured mechanical military watch and the company was originally founded in 1851 being primarily a clock maker. The Smiths W10 was issued mainly in the 60s and early 1970s and was replaced by the CWC and Hamilton W10 in around 1972. The best of the Smiths models was the GS.4701 and production of this model ceased in 1971, It was rumored that when Smiths closed Timex bought out the company and at some point destroyed the tooling and remaining spare parts but regardless of the various rumors the name was resurrected in recent years by Eddie Platts at Time Factors who produces Smith’s watches which look very similar to the original models. Interestingly I was offered a box of Smiths W10 watches in the early 90s from a UK contact which were all in running order at £20 each and looking on eBay they sell now at £750! Maybe I should have hung onto them.

A variant of the Smiths W10 was also issued to the Royal Air Force (RAF) as a Navigator's watch and these are now very collectable they are easy to identify because the caseback markings begin with 6B/.   

Whilst a lot of the details regarding Smiths are unclear it seems that during 1966 Smiths secured a contract to supply the British forces with a General Service watch and its likely the batch I bought in the 1990s were part of this run and they were all dated in the late 60s. This watch seems to have been supplied for 3 years up to 1970 this watch was manufactured to meet DEF 3-B issued September 1966 and subsequently DEF STAN 66-4 (Part 4)/Issue 1, issued July 1969. Information regarding this standard appears at http://www.h-spot.net/watches/mod/general_service_electronic_wristwatches_1980.pdf

Based on my experience and notes regarding the W10 its seems the watch was 36 mm wide X 40 mm from lug to lug and 11 mm thick and used an 18mm strap with Tritium paint for luminosity. Like the Hamiliton and CWC W10 it used an acrylic crystal. The Smiths W10 from Timefactors is also 36mm wide and has the designation PRS-29A Eddie at Timefactors also makes the 39mm PRS-29B which was a good move because a lot of people find old pattern military watches rather small for today’s tastes and although they like the overall appearance they prefer a larger case. I find the issue of case size interesting because if you look at the IWC models they follow the same pattern:

Mark IX: 1936-1944, IWC caliber 83, diameter: 36mm

Mark X: 1944-1948, IWC caliber 83, diameter: 36mm

Mark XI: 1948-1984, IWC caliber 89, diameter: 36mm

Mark XII: 1993-1999, IWC caliber 884 diameter: 36mm

Mark XV: 1999-2006, ETA Cal. 2892A2, diameter: 38mm

Mark XVI: 2006-2013, IWC caliber 30110, diameter: 39mm

The MWC MKIII also measures 38mm excluding the crown and 40mm including the crown so it seems that 39/40mm is the right size.

Having seen the Timefactors Smiths W10 it looks very well put together and if you are looking for a W10 of this type it is not a bad buy at £325 for the 36mm variants. Keep in mind the dearer 39mm model whilst looking similar to the smaller watch has a Sapphire crystal so is much more up to date and I would trust the water resistance much more than with an acrylic crystal although both are rate 100m. You can see these watches here and I think they capture the spirit of the original quite well http://timefactors.com/smiths.htm

Finally the most collectable Smiths model is the De Luxe which used a 27.CS calibre movement  and was apparently issued as a General Service watch for the RAF from the end of the 1950s to the early 1960s these watches are extremely rare and highly collectable.  If you are looking for an original Smiths this site is helpful and has some watches for sale plus lots of tips http://www.smithswatches.com/pages/smiths-guide 







The two images above are an original 1967 Smiths W10

The two images below are the current Smiths W10 currently from Timefactors