The new Vero Smokey Bear editions offer a timely reminder of man’s influence on nature The new Vero Smokey Bear editions offer a timely reminder of man’s influence on nature

The new Vero Smokey Bear editions offer a timely reminder of man’s influence on nature


Smokey Bear became established as a quintessential figure for all Americans towards the end of World War II. The character was created in 1944 to help prevent forest fires, and his role today might be even more relevant due to the continuing rise in global temperatures and  devastating wildfires. Smokey Bear’s mission, therefore, transcends borders and takes on a universal meaning. Accordingly, and to celebrate its 79th anniversary, the American brand Vero partnered with the United States Forest Services to create two collectors’ editions – the Smokey `44 and Smokey `64 – both of which we’re going to take a look at today. Beyond their inherent connection to the furry mascot, these two pieces are proper field watches, built with the appropriate specs for your next adventure.

A little bit about Smokey Bear

Smokey Bear’s core message, which many outdoorsy people know by heart, is as follows: “The future of our forests is in our hands. Only you can educate, prevent and ensure their safety.” This message is echoed in all corners of the United States by way of signage, showing Smokey educating both adults and little ones on the best ways to protect the forests. His unique appearance of a bear sporting a sturdy pair of blue jeans and a forest ranger’s hat has become iconic. And we find it, along his message, on these two collector-edition field watches, the very first official Smokey Bear timepieces.

The visual heritage of the Smokey `44 and `64

The two models share the same specifications that we will dissect a little later. They also share the same colour schemes and obvious connection to Smokey, as well as a simple case profile complete with a satin sandblasted finish. However, they differ in the way the dials look, as each references a specific time period and milestone in Smokey Bear’s life. The first one, Smokey `44, takes us back to the creation of Smokey Bear in 1944 and to the horological ethos of that time period. Namely, the cathedral hands which can be found on numerous field watches of the time including the famed Dirty Dozen, as well as the gothic Arabic numerals which are period-correct and match that of the first signage found across the United States’ national forests. The brown earthy tones of the dial, paired with a sandy texture and set against cream-coloured numerals provide for superlative legibility. A red 24-hour scale can be found on the inner portion of the dial while an illustrated Smokey Bear sits at the 12 o’clock, accompanied by the action-driven “Only You” slogan and a stylised image of a tree (which appears on many Smokey Bear ads) below the pinion.

The Smokey `64 takes us back to the year 1964, when Smokey Bear got his own zip code in order to receive fan mail. The 1960s also provided a new backdrop for a military-oriented field watch design that looked more modern. The dial-side Smokey is no more, replaced by an inverted triangle at the 12 o’clock, the stylised tree sitting at the top of a circle that runs around the pinion and contains another call-to-action slogan: “Only You Can Prevent Wildfires”. The cathedral hands are replaced by sword hands, and the gothic typeface of the Smokey `44 makes way for a modern, simple and equally legible typeface for the Arabic numerals marking each hour. The Smokey `64 shares the same red 24-hour scale, railroad minute track, and shovel-shaped counterbalance of the lumed seconds hand.

These Smokeys are proper field watches

Beyond their intrinsic connection to an American icon, the Smokey `44 and `64 are packed with proper field watch specifications. Starting with the calibre within, it’s the ultra-popular Seiko NH38A, beating at 21,600vph, and with 41 hours of power reserve. This no-date calibre is the perfect choice for this type of watch at this price point. Additionally, these models are equipped with sapphire crystals, a screw-down crown and caseback offering 120 metres of water resistance, green SuperLuminova that was generously applied, and a satin-looking, bead-blasted finish on the case.

Although the Smokey `44 and `64 hark back to times long gone, they are not deprived of modern dimensions. The cases come with a diameter of 38mm, lug-to-lug of 46mm, thickness of 12mm, and a lug width of 20mm. Both models are shipped with two straps, one being made of thick, supple brown leather complete with quick-release spring bars and a laser-engraved U.S. Forest Service logo, the other being a canvas NATO-style strap with reinforced eyelets. Given the specs, dimensions, and choice of straps the Smokey `44 and `64 come with, there is no doubt that these two are designed to be worn. If you didn’t know, Vero offers a 10-year, no-questions-asked warranty on all of its models.

Vero Smokey pricing and availability:

The Vero Smokey `44 and `64 are available now from Vero’s website. 10% of all the profits from their sale will be donated to the United States Forest Service. Price: US$450

Brand Vero
Model The Smokey `44 and `64
Case Dimensions 38mm (D) x 12mm (T) x 46mm (LTL)
Case Material Stainless steel
Water Resistance 120 metres
Crystal(s) Sapphire
Dial Brown
Strap Brown leather and canvas NATO-style
Movement Seiko NH38A, automatic, 3Hz
Power Reserve 41 hours
Functions Hours, minutes, seconds
Availability Now, special non-limited edition
Price US$450