IMPERIAL

 
IMPERIAL IS ANOTHER NAME INHERITED FROM H.WILLIAMSON. THESE ARE FOUND IN 19 JEWEL MANUAL AND 25 JEWEL AUTOMATIC VERSIONS. THESE MOVEMENTS REPRESENTED A SERIOUS ATTEMPT TO OVERCOME THE APPARENT WEAKNESSES AND INFLEXIBILITY IN THE 12-15 BASED RANGE OF PREDECESSORS. IN 1958/89 THE AUTOMATIC VERSION WAS CREATED BY RICHARD GOOD ET AL WITH THE AUTOMATIC WINDING BASED ON THE PELLATON SYSTEM USED BY IWC TO BE ABLE TO BE SUPERIMPOSED ON THE BASIC MANUAL 19 JEWELLED STRUCTURE.

THE PROTOTYPE WATCH THOUGH CRUDE SHOWS THE DESIGN ELEMENTS TAKEN FROM THE IWC VERSION. AN UNSUBSTANTIATED AS FAR AS I KNOW RUMOUR HAS IT THAT IWC SUED SMITHS, BUT WITH A PRODUCTION RUN OF 7 YEARS 58/65 THAT DOESN'T SEEM LIKELY.

THIS LEAD TO A VERY EXPENSIVE WATCH THAT COULDN'T COMPETE WITH THE SWISS MASS PRODUCED SELF-WINDING WATCHES LET ALONE THE ULTRA RELIABLE SEIKOSHA PRODUCTS. LOW PRODUCTION NUMBERS AND DIFFICULTY IN SERVICING HAVE MEANT THAT THIS AUTOMATIC WATCH IS NOW PROBABLY THE MOST COLLECTABLE OF THE AVAILABLE SMITHS WATCHES.

THE AUTOMATICS ARE NEARLY ALL SIGNED IMPERIAL ON THE ROTOR. THE ROTOR WEIGHT ITSELF WAS INITIALLY DESIGNED WITH A HEAVY METAL SCREWED ON RIM, POSSIBLY TUNGSTEN. LATTERLY THIS BECAME LESS OBVIOUSLY A SEPARATE COMPONENT. THE EXTREMELY HEAVY RIM LEADS TO PREMATURE WEAR OF THE BALL BEARING BASED CENTRE, AS EVIDENT BY THE CLATTERING NOISE HEARD IN MOST SMITHS AUTOMATICS.

THE CASES FOR THE AUTOMATICS VARY IN TYPE AND QUALITY. THE EARLIEST ARE THE BWC SMALL CHUNKY CASES AS USED BY OTHER WATCH COMPANIES SUCH AS TREBEX, AND SOMEWHAT RESEMBLING THE A504 CASE FROM THE TOP. THESE DISNT LEAVE A LOT OF ROOM FOR THE EDGE OF THE ROTOR ESPECIALLY WHEN DENTED AND LEAD TO LARGER CASES BEING USED.

THERE WERE SUBSTANTIAL STEEL AND GOLD PLATED CASES WITH HEAVY LUGS, AND A RATHER FLIMSY GOLD VERSION WITH THIN STRAP LUGS WHICH ARE PRONE TO WEAR AND DAMAGE. .

ALSO THERE ARE A FEW GOLD FILLED VERSIONS IN EXISTENCE.

THEY ALL HAVE CLIP ON BACKS.

IMPERIAL WATCHES FOUND IN THE U.S. ARE SWISS MADE AND NOT RELATED.

 
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