History of Smiths car clocks: veteran and vintage car clocks
Smiths car clocks were used on a wide range veteran and vintage British automobiles and were imported around the world. These highly regarded clocks were produced by a company that had its origins in a jeweller’s shop opened in or about 1851 by Samuel Smith at Newington Causeway. This jeweller’s business included the making and selling of clocks and watches. In 1899 Samuel Smith’s son and successor formed a private company, S. Smith & Son Ltd., and transferred his business to it. This new company supplied “motor watches” for the earliest cars and in 1904 produced its first speedometer.
1902 advertisement for a Smith and Sons motor watch:
In addition to the early motor clocks and speedometers the company also produced a range of other parts and accessories for automobiles including carburettors, acetylene lamps, generators and early electric lighting sets. In July, 1914, a new public company was incorporated, under the name S. Smith & Sons (Motor Accessories) Ltd., to take over the motor accessory business of S. Smith and Son Ltd. The new company had a capital of £100,000 in shares of £1 each, half of which were allotted to the vendor company and the other half issued to the general public. The vendor company continued as jewellers and clock and watch makers until about 1930.
In the first world war the company increased its production of vehicle accessories and also manufactured fuses and aircraft instruments. Additional capital was raised and a factory built at Cricklewood. In the 1920s Smiths began to aquire an interest in the English Jaeger Company. Jaeger was a manufacturer of clocks, watches, speedometers and other instruments and held exclusive licences to make some of these goods under patents belonging to Etablissements Ed. Jaeger S.A., Paris, an associate company. The two Jaeger companies, the French and the English, were owned by a number of French and Swiss nationals and companies. In 1928 A.B.E.C. Ltd. (All British Escapements Company) was formed to manufacture escapements for Smiths and Jaeger car clocks.
The early Smiths automobile clocks are highly regarded among vintage car enthusiasts and admired for the quality of the movement particularly the rim wind type (also known as bezel wind) of the 1920s and 1930s that are pictured above. We currently have a range of mechanical Smiths vintage car clocks available for purchase including the rim wind clocks produced at the Cricklewood works in the 1920s and 1930s.