Here’s a character watch we never saw coming. To celebrate the 79th birthday of Smokey Bear (famous for his “Only you can prevent wildfires” tagline), Vero is releasing a pair of officially licensed Smokey Bear watches. It’s actually a natural partnership for Vero. As a fire prevention mascot, Smokey is well known in the Pacific Northwest, where Vero is based. And Vero’s brand identity very much leans into the culture of love for the outdoors – it’s a huge part of every watch they make, both in terms of the aesthetics (with designs and colors inspired by Vero’s Oregon home) and their robust nature (the Workhorse comes immediately to mind). These new watches have a charm factor that’s just about off the charts if you grew up seeing Smokey on TV warning you about the dangers of forest fires, but they’re also Vero through and through.
First up is the Smokey ‘44 watch, which takes its inspiration from the types of early field style watches that would have been in use the year Smokey made his debut. The dominant feature here is the large cathedral hour hand, paired with Arabic numerals in a distinctive gothic typeface. Vero says this typeface was chosen to match iconic mid century signage found in the US National Parks System. The Smokey ‘44 watch includes the familiar illustration of Smokey (wearing his hat, of course) at the 12:00 position, with “Only You” text right underneath, a reference to his iconic catchphrase.
The Smokey ‘64 is perhaps a slightly more reserved take on the Smokey tradition. This watch is in the style of what most would consider a traditional field watch dating to the 1960s, which of course is still very much what modern field watches look like today. Sword hands point to crisp white numerals against a brown textured dial. We don’t see an image of Smokey on the dial of this watch, but we do get the full “Only you can prevent wildfires” text within the interior 24 hour scale. Another nice touch on this variant is the counterweight of the seconds hand in the shape of Smokey’s shovel.
Both watches feature identical technical specs, running on a Seiko made NH38A automatic movement with a 41 hour power reserve, stainless steel cases measuring 38mm in diameter and 12mm tall, and 120 meters of water resistance (with a screw down crown, as well as a sapphire crystal). The watches ship with a beige canvas NATO style strap, as well as a brown leather strap.
Vero has done a really nice job paying attention to the small details on these watches. The packaging, for example, is designed to resemble those that housed Smokey Bear collectibles in the middle part of the century, and the whole project works well as a heartfelt tribute to an idea that is clearly close to the heart of the team at Vero. The watches serve as a reminder of a positive message about conservation that is more relevant than ever as Smokey nears 80 years old.
The new Smokey Bear field watches are available now through Vero’s website with a retail price coming in at $450. Vero