Keith Campbell takes a look at the Smiths Everest Expedition PRS-25EXP – a watch that commemorates the conquering of the mountain.
Smiths Everest Expedition PRS-25EXP Review
I was born 21 years to the day that Mount Everest was conquered by Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay. I do not want to wait several years nor pay a huge premium on the grey market for a Rolex Explorer. Instead, I got my hands on a Smiths Everest Expedition PRS-25EXP from Time Factors. At only £325, does it scratch the itch of the desire for the much more expensive original?
The website www.timefactors.com is only open sporadically as demand is so high, and they quickly sell out. You can sign up to be emailed notifications of when it will open again for orders (usually a Sunday). Rather than forming an orderly queue, you must be hovering and ready to strike as the website opens as the watches sell out in a matter of minutes! There is almost an expectation from the website that people are buying these to resell on the grey market as it clearly states on the order page that a maximum of 2 can be bought ‘per customer’. Further evidence of this expectation is the warranty: “All watches are guaranteed against defective workmanship for 24 months from date of purchase, and the guarantee for the first 12 months applies to the original purchaser only.’
The PRS-25EXP is a homage to the original Smiths Everest A454, known as the ‘Antarctic’, being utilised during the Trans-Antarctic expedition of 1955 to 1958 by Sir Vivian Fuchs and Sir Edmund Hillary.
The stepped dial is painted a pale cream with a black printed minute track. The numbers are almost identical to the original and are filled with Superluminova X1-C3 and give a great clear glow in the darkness. The hands are syringe styles with heat-blued steel and a red lollipop second hand. Nice, clear and easy to read! Unlike the original upon which it is based, there is no sub-seconds hand at the 6 o’clock position. The grey-blue writing on the dial is subtle and does not get in the way of reading the time. At the bottom of the dial, ‘Great Britain’ is stated, indicating where the watch was conceived and designed, not where it is actually manufactured. Is that an issue for me? No. There is no way that this watch could be manufactured for anywhere near the price paid if it was manufactured in Great Britain as well.
Made of 316L stainless steel and 36mm in diameter (39.3mm including the crown) with a brushed top and polished sides, it is certainly a ‘vintage’ size. Being used to larger (42-44mm and greater) watches, it initially looked tiny to me on my 17.5cm wrists. However, size quickly became no concern as it literally grew on me. Lug to jug is 43.5mm and each drilled lug itself is 20mm. The depth is 11.3mm, including the hi-dome sapphire crystal (30.4mm wide by 2.5mm think), which has an anti-reflective coating on the underside. It is water resistant to 10ATM/ 100metres/ 330 feet and has an anti-magnetic rating of 20,000A/m, complete with an anti-magnetic movement cover. The back is screw-on and the crown is screw-down to aid in keeping it water and debris proof.
The movement has recently been upgraded to a Japanese-made Miyota 9039, missing the ghost date stem position. A very reliable and premium automatic movement, it is tough enough for most of what you may decide to put this watch through. 24 jewels beat away at 28,800BPH. 40 turns from a wound-down watch will give you around 42 hours of standby power which will be topped up by wearing it. Accuracy is between -10 and +30 seconds per day. Having checked mine, it gains around 2 seconds per day – very happy with that!
The high-quality rivet bracelet supplied with the watch is a very comfortable attachment. Tapering from 20mm to 16mm with a signed push-button clasp, it can easily be resized by unscrewing tiny screws with a jewellery screwdriver. It is also supplied with a rolling buckle tan leather strap as well in the watch carry case the entire package is supplied in. This give a nice option should you with to change around the look. When the bracelet is attached, it all weighs in at 140grams.
Smiths Everest Expedition – Summary
Does it scratch the itch? Yes and no. It is a truly beautiful watch, well executed and a bargain at the price paid for it, particularly if you look at the sum of the parts and the overall look. However, it will never be the Rolex Explorer that more people know about. Indeed, whilst wearing it, I have twice been asked if it was a Rolex. Maybe that is a good thing? If you are planning to buy a Rolex Explorer but are concerned about the smaller size if you used to larger dials, this is a good way to try the size and feel in advance of spending several thousand pounds instead. You may even love this so much that you will not need the Rolex Explorer! As a modernised re-imagined version of the original, the fact that it sells out within minutes of being available speaks for itself. If you can, get yourself one – you will never regret it. Even better, buy the website limit of 2 and sell one for a premium to get your Smiths Everest Expedition PRS-25EXP even cheaper… 😉
Buy a Smiths Everest Expedition
The Smiths Everest Expedition PRS-25EXP is exclusively available from Timefactors.