Posted on May 03 2018
“A family that works together, grows together”
A caption the Smales family know very well, as they reflect upon the memories experienced with their business partner and family member – Ron Smales Jr., co-owner and master watchmaker of Smales Jewellers.
Ron died at the age of 69 on Thursday, April 12, 2018, leaving in his wake a successful business network where buying a luxury watch in Perth was just one part of a cherished customer experience.
From the outback to the world
It was in Kalgoorlie, where Smales Jewellers originated, that Ron perfected his watchmaker knowledge. He worked side-by-side with his father Ron Smales Sr. and Swiss watchmaker Frank Sclander – two amazing watchmakers in their own right. To compliment this vast amount of shared wisdom, Ron Jr. also spent two years in Switzerland, working on leading brand timepieces like Omega.
Over the following decades, Ron saw the evolution of watches unfold across the world. Expecting the advent of quartz technology to emerge from Swiss watchmakers, he always spoke of his surprise of where it eventually did come from.
“Everyone wanted to produce the first commercial watch using quartz movement,” he once recalled. “Up until this point, much of the key technology and components had remained the same since they were invented by Abraham-Louis Breguet in the 18th Century. Unbeknownst to the Swiss, Japanese watchmakers were already mastering quartz. Seiko launched the Seiko Astron in 1969 – the world’s first quartz movement watch. Almost overnight, 2,500 Swiss watchmakers were made redundant as consumers worldwide embraced the new timekeeping technology.”
Beautiful, enduring timepieces
While this was a huge blow for the Swiss industry in the late 60s and early 70s, the fundamental values behind Swiss mechanical movement watches – the design, craftsmanship and longevity – have stood time’s greatest test and both technologies have an important place in today’s market.
That’s been shown so very clearly by Ron Smales, his brother Tony Smales and neice Leilani Pop Markov and the continued success of Smales Jewellers. For more than 75 years the name Smales has been synonymous in Perth with luxury watches, stocking major brands including Omega, Breitling, Cartier and Seiko. Since 1937, the company has since opened four more stores in Subiaco, Bunbury, Karratha & Geraldton – Ron Smales Jr. responsible for the opening of the Subiaco store in 1989.
Ron kept luxury watches popular in Perth
Ron would say, “A watch is an investment. Customers need to understand what they’re buying… the retailer should have the technical and historical knowledge to educate and guide them through the buying process so they find the right watch for their needs.” “Brands are great but quality is better” .
Just as quartz and mechanical movements now happily coexist, Smales too has bridged tradition with today’s modern world. In addition to its stunning collection of watches and its in-house watchmaking expertise, arguably unmatched in the state, Smales also produces its own fine jewellery and stocks one of the world’s leading diamond jewellery brands, Hearts on Fire, exclusively in WA.
Despite his decades as a vanguard of the industry, Ron didn’t rest on his laurels. “I’ll never stop learning. Watches are my passion and I’m always upgrading my technical knowledge and skills and visiting Switzerland whenever I can.”
Today, Ron’s legacy shines on, inspiring all of us to assist every customer who arrives at a Smales Jewellers store with their own set of values and requirements, and to walk away wearing the ultimate luxury jewellery piece.
Vale Ron Smales Jr. – an ever-shining beacon to the watch and jewellery world in Perth.