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Title An impressive watch.
Posted by Anthony Smith (ip:)
  • Date 2020-11-20 16:24:36
  • Recommend Recommend
  • View 353
Rate 5points
The Rolex Explorer has always fascinated me.
I would watch/read reviews by people who have access to more luxury timepieces in a month than I have in a year or two, and despite handling all these watches that I found far more interesting - aesthetically and/or functionally - they would often proclaim it to be their favourite watch. So I had to find out why.
Since the 'why not just save for the real thing' argument makes absolutely no sense to someone in my financial position I decided to start looking into copies and homages.

To be perfectly honest, I prefer the look of the older Explorers (ref 1016), so I was immediately drawn to the Smiths Everest PRS25. However I have an 8“ wrist, so the 44mm lug to lug of their 36mm version was not for me. I'll happily wear a 36mm timepiece but only if it has some extra presence courtesy of a 46-47mm lug to lug. Smiths did offer a 40mm Everest variant at the time, however I thought the dial layout suffered as a consequence of it being sized up. The hands were too short, the arabics too small and the dial too sparse.

Microbrands like Traska and Borealis had also made some very interesting vintage Explorer type homages, but they were sold out.

I knew that Tisell had made modern Explorer copies previously, but each time I would check the site they were sold out. But when checking again in April of 2020 I saw the watch was back in stock in an upgraded form: better dial, better lume, better bracelet & clasp and a better movement.

At the time I thought I would've preferred the Borealis, but I ordered the Tisell anyway.

Now? I'm not so sure!

When it arrived I immediately understood why the watch this is a copy of is so popular and well regarded. I have actually worn a Rolex Explorer 214270, for about 15 mins... Despite the obvious and expected differences in finesse and quality, I was amazed at how similarly the Tisell watch wore and felt on my wrist. What you get for your $235 is simply incredible. The execution of the dial, indices & arabics is very good indeed, extremely good for the price. The black enamel paint really helps the dial to pop. The crown size, (which is bigger than the Rolex crown) is perfect and the 90s5 is good to interact with, despite feeling a little gritty to wind. Performance wise, I can't fault it. This is my first experience with a 9 series Miyota. I've not noticed any rotor wobble - at all - and the only time I can hear rotor spin is when I put it to my ear. My watch is running consistently at +5-6 spd which is more than acceptable. The bracelet itself is very well executed. The taper, though not Tisells design, is really well done and makes for an extremely comfortable wear. But it's the the clasp that really makes this piece stand out. It's my very first experience with glide-lock and it's spoiled all the other inferior clasps on my other watches! I seriously considered jumping online and buying a handful of glide-lock replacement clasps for other pieces!

The niggles I have are few and none of them are huge.
The biggest disappointment is the quality of the hand set. The length and proportions are spot on and the lume is well applied, but the hands do lack finesse, particularly the seconds hand which looks pretty cheap. A rung or two up the ladder quality wise and a better texture and finishing level to accompany it would make a big difference IMO, especially due to the elegant simplicity of the dial. Not a huge deal, but something I would definitely notice and appreciate, even if it meant a slight increase in price.
Secondly the end-links could be a little better. Due to my wrist size its non-articulating 'male' construction is a positive and the tolerances of the fit within the lugs is more than acceptable. It's the manner in which the end-link connects to the bracelet that is a little...messy, causing a small gap and protrusion in & of the first bracelet link. Again, nothing huge...
And lastly, I would like to see some branding on the clasp. It's a long one and it looks pretty empty. I like that the crown is signed, but really, I don't particularly care. It's not like a signed crown is visible once the piece is on my wrist. A signed cladp though? That is visible.

So all up, after living with this watch for 5 months or so, I love it. It gets a heap of wrist time and it sits next to a number of entry level Swiss pieces and mid tier Seikos proudly. More importantly, it holds its own in comparison to the other pricier pieces in my collection, and you cannot ask for more than that.
People speak very highly indeed of the Smiths Explorer homage, and to a lesser extent, the other micro-brands. But both are significantly more costly than the Tisell. It's a true bargain.

And more importantly, a true bargain that proves that there is a big difference between 'cheap' and 'inexpensive' watches.
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