Hillary Watch Variants
It’s a well known face that Smiths never actually marketed the exact design of Sir Edmund Hillary’s watch. However, the dial was used by Smiths and was also featured in several Smiths watches that were produced for marketing by other, independent jewellers.
I have an early Smiths aquatite that has a very close resemblance to the Hillary original. It belongs to a batch of early aquatite watches by Smiths that aren’t readily recorded so I am unable to assign it a model.
Then of course there are the J W Benson Tropical watches from 1953/54 which almost certainly use the same design as the Hillary original. This example is on its original strap too.
My favourite though is a ‘Croff’ watch from ‘Croyden and sons’ made in Ipswich. Again this watch clearly uses the Hillary dial but Croydon and Sons have added the ‘Croff’ logo. This particular watch would have been made at around the exact same time as Sir Edmund Hillary’s.
What I also love about this watch is that it was presented as a prize to the winners of an Ipswich Speedway event.
Smiths held such an important role in British culture through the 40s all the way to 1980 but for me, they will always be the spirit of expedition and adventure.