The Smiths Everest’s origin is a long and twisted tale. Most homage watches are content to pay homage to a single watch, but the Smiths Everest pays double tribute. Many watch collectors are already familiar with the Rolex Explorer 1, which became famous when Sir Edmund Hillary wore one during his summiting of Mount Everest in 1953. But Hillary was also wearing a second watch: a Smiths.
Nowadays, few people remember the Smiths watch, and it’s easy to understand why. Smiths was one of the few English watchmakers of the 20th century, and only operated from 1945 until the mid-70s. So while Rolex was able to constantly advertise the Explorer 1 as the Mount Everest watch, Smiths was not around to cash in on the nostalgia. But this has now changed, since Timefactors has revived the Smiths brand.
This brings us back to the Smiths Everest; it’s a watch made by Timefactors, under the Smiths label, but designed to look and feel like the Rolex Explorer 1. That said, there are a couple of important differences I’ll touch on. Incidentally, I’ve already discussed this year’s Explorer 1 and 2, if you’d like to learn more about the watch from which the Smiths Everest draws its inspiration. Let’s get started!
The Case and Crystal
Size wise the recent Explorer 1 and Smith Everest are relatively identical, both coming in at 36mm, with an older model of the Everest at 40mm and an older model of the Explorer 1 at 39mm, it depends on the reference you choose to compare. The case material is stainless steel, providing the durability and weather-resistance you expect from a mountaineer’s watch. The bezel is wide and polished, with curved, lightly brushed lugs. One thing Smiths does very well is to copy the profile of the Oyster style case. If you scaled the Rolex up to the same size, the profile would be identical.
The screw-down crown is located at 3 o’clock, and has a knurled design that makes it easy to operate. The case back is stainless steel, not a display back, with a relatively bare appearance. All you’ll see is some basic information like the water-resistance, reference number, and Smiths logo. Then again, that’s the way the back of the Rolex Explorer is except without the text, so this detail is accurate. Not only that, but the back has a screw-down design for easy maintenance. The water-resistance is 100 meters, so you can take this watch swimming without any major concerns.
The first major difference between the Everest and the Explorer 1 is the crystal. The Explorer has a sapphire crystal, which is highly scratch-resistant. The Everest, on the other hand, utilizes a domed acrylic crystal. This is an interesting design choice, since it somewhat distorts the dial on the edges, or when you’re viewing it at an angle. While this detail is different, it’s an understandable choice, since it lends the watch a retro appeal.
Miyota 9015 Movement
The Smiths Everest isn’t just well-designed on the outside. It’s equally well-engineered on the inside, with a Miyota 9015 automatic movement. This movement has a frequency of 28,800Hz with 24 jewels, and an accuracy of -10 to +30 seconds per day. It’s also hand-winding, with hacking seconds, and even a date function, although there’s no date window on the Everest. For what it’s worth, the Explorer 1 uses a Rolex movement, which is to be expected.
The Iconic Dial
When viewed from a 90-degree angle, the Smith Everest’s dial is virtually identical to the Rolex Explorer 1. It has a minimalist aesthetic, designed to make it easy to tell the time at a glance. The background is a flat black, with no subdials, windows, or other complications. There also isn’t much decoration; the only non-functional feature is the Smiths logo at 12 o’clock, which is also the only difference between this watch and the Rolex.
There’s a small outer index, with fine hashes to mark individual minutes. Inside of this, larger, lume indices mark the 5-minute positions. There’s a big triangle at 12 o’clock, and Arabic numerals at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock. The other positions are marked by fat stripes.
The hour hand is broad and short, with a pointed tip and a round area in the middle with a distinctive “peace sign” design. This is identical to the hour hand on the Explorer 1, and it’s a nice touch. The minute and second hands are also the same, with a slim minute hand and a needle-thin second hand. The hour and minute hands have lume applied along their entire length, while the second hand is more staid. The only lume on that hand is on a small ring halfway down its length.
Of course the Smiths Everest does not come close to the actual construction quality of the Rolex Explorer 1, but it does a fantastic job of creating a watch that mimics what we all love about the Explorer 1 at a more affordable scale. Not only does it provide an affordable option to the Explorer 1 but it also intertwines some of its own unique quirks like the domed retro crystal.
Alfred Firmani says
Sir Edmund Hillary wore a Smiths Deluxe on Everest, not a Rolex. The Rolex Explorer is a homage to the Smiths Deluxe.
Albert Tatlock says
Well said Sir.
Darren Rock says
No he did not wear the smiths everest, he carried it in his pocket as contracted, he wore the the rolex. Smiths was the official sponsor of hilarys’ expedition.