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Thread: Smiths or Rolex - Which One Was the First Watch on Mt. Everest?

  1. #51
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    Certainly Hunt's letter appears to have at least been drafted by somebody with a very specific agenda. It would seem imprudent of him to have put his name to something that contained inaccuracies or falsehoods, was going to be widely published, and could easily be refuted by other expedition members. Perhaps, in the flurry of activity following the return to Kathmandu or as part of a deal, this is what happened. I'd love to know.

  2. #52
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    The museum label for the Hillary Smiths in the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers collection describes it as having a 15 jewel movement (like other sub-seconds Smiths Deluxe models of the era). The contemporary JW Benson with identical dial pattern has a top jewel on the centre wheel pivot, effectively making it a 12.16 movement. I'd rather like to be able to whip the back off the Smiths to confirm which version it has.


  3. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Curta View Post
    Certainly Hunt's letter appears to have at least been drafted by somebody with a very specific agenda. It would seem imprudent of him to have put his name to something that contained inaccuracies or falsehoods, was going to be widely published, and could easily be refuted by other expedition members. Perhaps, in the flurry of activity following the return to Kathmandu or as part of a deal, this is what happened. I'd love to know.
    The only paragraph that seems to me to be unambiguously misleading if the whole expedition was not equipped with Rolex which they felt quite so satisfied with is the third one. This is also the one that most strains credulity. The fact is that a well serviced manual watch like the 1215 will run stably up to about thirty six hours and with diminished stability up to well over forty hours.

    Hunt had fought his war - and peace - equipped with manual winding watches. The British Army carried on relying on hand wind watches until the advent of quartz and were happy to use the Smiths W10s a decade later. Like any military man and anyone working in a safety critical environment it is literally unthinkable that the Everest team were not slave to a series of checklists, one of which would have been to wind and, almost certainly, to set their watches daily. It's just not something you'd leave to chance in that environment. Hunt was a professional who had taught planning, He simply wouldn't leave anything to chance in that situation.

    Automatic winding would have been a novelty to him and the military mind rightly doesn't trust novelties. Given the way that movement is severely reduced and slowed at altitude, combined with the relative inefficiency of the winding mechanism on the early Rolex automatics, Had he trusted the autowinding, he'd have likely discovered the same problem that older people the world over discover as they slow down...

    So, there would never have been a need to slip off gloves to wind a watch. Indeed, the idea that a planner as thorough or as experienced as Hunt would have had such a relaxed attitude to the winding and synchronising of watches, or any other safety critical detail. He was Army - he'd have cut his teeth on non chronometer watches that were set and synchronised daily and before any significant manoeuvre that was concerned with timekeeping. NASA were still setting, winding and synchronising on the Moon for Heaven's sake.

    This was a non problem and the only possible reason it could have been brought up was to emphasis this novel feature that Rolex wanted emphasising.

    The other issue is that there is a constant reference to all the other expeditions, to Rolex's reputation and so on. The fact is that Hunt hadn't been on them and hadn't been involved in the Himalayas since he was turned down in 1933 due to his heart condition. It's hard to imagine a group of mountaineers behaving like a group of WIS. Back when I climbed, I can't remember a single conversation about watches. Boots, food, local advice and trips to the toilet certainly. But watches? I'd have remembered. I still dive and again, I can't remember a single conversation beyond being told not to dive with an antique reserve once. The best you can hope for is someone saying that they have a particular dive computer and they are happy with it. Hunt's only exposure to a Himalayan expedition was this one and it seems odd that the watches were discussed in such detail that he was able to talk with such authority about their popularity with expeditions. And of course, why then would Hillary not take the issue watch and the one with such a sterling reputation on his final assault. Tenzing certainly, he idolised Lambert and wore his hat throughout the expedition - it's hardly surprising that he'd not wear the Rolex he was given too.

    The bottom line is that there have to be some better quality pictures out there. That Hunt's letter appears contrived and less credible when you think about it carefully simply isn't evidence either way. It raises questions rather than settling them. The fact is that there are a lot of pictures of all the climbers wearing what looks like the same watch. Two of them appear to wear Rolex: Tenzing and another member who wears two watches one of which is characteristically Rolex shaped. There's a third member who also wears two watches, one on his front beltloop, but it's hard to see what they are. As far as I'm concerned I see Precisely the watch in the British museum and almost in my collection over and over again, but then I know enough about the way that expectation, even non conscious expectation can have a deep and deeply misleading effect on visual perception and so I'm refraining from taking my interpretation of a blur as any more than that except in the few places that there seems to be something more objective to note.

    The more people who weigh in with their interpretation, especially of the film, the better.

    Edit:

    And of course there's this advert which is plastered all over the web and apparently predates Hunt's letter...



    and looks pretty damned synoptic.
    Last edited by M4tt; 18th February 2018 at 23:54.

  4. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Curta View Post
    The museum label for the Hillary Smiths in the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers collection describes it as having a 15 jewel movement (like other sub-seconds Smiths Deluxe models of the era). The contemporary JW Benson with identical dial pattern has a top jewel on the centre wheel pivot, effectively making it a 12.16 movement. I'd rather like to be able to whip the back off the Smiths to confirm which version it has.


    Actually, while the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers were less than helpful in the Barbican, I have found the folk in the Science museum immensely helpful over the years. If you dropped in a semi formal and very polite request to find out that detail and included your research and reasoning for asking the question, they may well be more helpful than you'd expect. They also tend to try to keep as much context as possible and would be delighted to acquire more; a request like that is the sort of context they like.
    Last edited by M4tt; 18th February 2018 at 20:49.

  5. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by M4tt View Post
    Actually, while the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers were less than helpful in the Barbican, I have found the folk in the Science museum immensely helpful over the years. If you dropped in a semi formal and very polite request to find out that detail and included your research and reasoning for asking the question, they may well be more helpful than you'd expect. They also tend to try to keep as much context as possible and would be delighted to acquire more; a request like that is the sort of context they like.
    That's probably a bit more sensible than the current plan which is to create a diversion by the Babbage Engine whilst Rev-O pries open the display case, vintage Smiths caseback tool in hand.

  6. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Curta View Post
    That's probably a bit more sensible than the current plan which is to create a diversion by the Babbage Engine whilst Rev-O pries open the display case, vintage Smiths caseback tool in hand.
    Actually, I think I may have half an answer. The Smiths' sales receipt is very clear that they are fifteen jewel watches. Mind you, sales receipts...

    Are there not snap back versions with the same dials as the Everest models? I vaguely remember that I have a battered scrap one that is the absolute spit somewhere (and also has a presumably nickel plated movement...).

  7. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by M4tt View Post
    Actually, I think I may have half an answer. The Smiths' sales receipt is very clear that they are fifteen jewel watches. Mind you, sales receipts...

    Are there not snap back versions with the same dials as the Everest models? I vaguely remember that I have a battered scrap one that is the absolute spit somewhere (and also has a presumably nickel plated movement...).
    I'm pretty sure that it has a 12.15 but I'm still curious as until relatively recently only the 12.16 JW Benson was known to have an identical dial pattern bar the name, and Smiths made watches for Benson between '52 and '55. A very small number of Smiths branded watches with the same dial pattern have now emerged, they can be counted on one hand, but they are simply marked 'Smiths', not 'Smiths Deluxe'.

    The A4xx models are all in Dennison Aquatite screw back cases but there are similar looking models in snap back cases. The A224 is almost identical to the A404, for example.

  8. #58
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    With acknowledgements to SimonK for the pointer, The Ascent of Everest by Sir John Hunt lists both Rolex and Smiths in Appendix IX under B. Firms and Other Bodies, (a) General Equipment:




    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



    (Copyrighted material taken from Amazon.com 'Look Inside' feature)


    However Smiths were happy to include this unambiguous statement on the inserts included with their post '53 Deluxe range


    Image from Internet

  9. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Curta View Post
    I'm pretty sure that it has a 12.15 but I'm still curious as until relatively recently only the 12.16 JW Benson was known to have an identical dial pattern bar the name, and Smiths made watches for Benson between '52 and '55. A very small number of Smiths branded watches with the same dial pattern have now emerged, they can be counted on one hand, but they are simply marked 'Smiths', not 'Smiths Deluxe'.

    The A4xx models are all in Dennison Aquatite screw back cases but there are similar looking models in snap back cases. The A224 is almost identical to the A404, for example.

    I agree that the only definitive way to be sure would be via the Science Museum. There's a good case either way as the Everest models could have ridden on the back of a Benson order. One question I'm unsure about is whether Hillary's watch was all steel or chromed brass. Comparing it with the closest versions I have, which are definitely brass at heart, it looks far more like the later military models which were all steel.

    I've dug out the snapback I had in mind. By way of excuse I received in in a bag of random parts from ebay and all I have done is popped it in a plastic pot and forgotten about it. It was also more identical in my head...



    Meanwhile here are my two closest, at least in terms of dial:



    Not that this sheds any light on anything, but hey it's an opportunity to post pictures of watches!


    As for Hunt, I'm not sure what to say. The copy from Rolex above appeared in several UK newspapers a few days after news of the ascent broke, well before Hunt wrote his copy. I don't think that there is any question that Hunt's is a paraphrase of the earlier Rolex copy, sharing basically the same structure, with several key sentences being almost identical and a great deal of common word choices:

    Rolex copy: "No need, either, for them to slip off their warm gloves to attend to this irritating detail."

    Hunt Copy: " There was no need either to slip off warm gloves to attend to this detail."

    It's very clear to that Hunt was simply paraphrasing from Rolex's copy. At this point, I'd say this really undermines Hunt's reliability as a source. What was purported to be a report from the mountain was in fact repetition of claims from Rolex copy that was demonstrably at least a month old when Hunt's letter was dated. As Hunt had been up a mountain and out of communication when the copy was published in London it's quite certain he had nothing to do with it, unless it was written before he went...

    As such, I'm not sure how much faith I'd put in his later claims, especially knowing that Smiths played a far larger part than he suggested, supplying all sorts of instrumentation, including oxygen meters, altimeters and other key instruments. There's no denying that Smiths' role is played down and Rolex is played up. This is hardly surprising given that Hillary and Hunt had been retained by Rolex, but it makes sorting out what was going on a little more challenging.

    However, on the other side of the coin. I notice that the Smiths receipt for the watches, dated 24/7/53, came with a letter that referred to a Royal Geographical Society request for receipts for watches that already been delivered. Given this, I think there's a case to make that the Rolex receipts may well have been generated for the same reason after the fact of their delivery. All in all, the case that both Smiths and Rolex were issued looks a little stronger. That Hunt cribbed copy or signed off on copy without too much care is understandable in the circumstances, but that's a long way from a clear falsehood in the source you have discovered.

    In fact, the claim by Smiths that you posted above looks to me like further evidence that there was Rolex involvement. Specifying that Hillary wore only a Smiths and not specifying who supplied the expedition, that it was the only watch issued and so on implies that Smiths couldn't say anything more general, like Smiths were the only watch worn by, or supplied to, the expedition...

    Mind you, my Speedmaster tells me it was the only watch worn on the Moon and that's not just false, it's knowingly false.

    The other thing I don't get is why both Rolex and Smiths didn't offer an absolutely identical watch to the ones supplied (or not) to the expedition. Both the Smiths and Rolex models exemplify uncluttered clarity. In fact, the engraved watch that Wylie, Band, and so on, owned shares far more DNA with the Air King than the Explorer!

    Either way, wouldn't it be fun for Eddie to produce an Everest homage pair with the dial from the Everest Rolex or Smiths available depending on taste?
    Last edited by M4tt; 20th February 2018 at 11:57.

  10. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by M4tt View Post
    One question I'm unsure about is whether Hillary's watch was all steel or chromed brass. Comparing it with the closest versions I have, which are definitely brass at heart, it looks far more like the later military models which were all steel.
    I'm pretty sure that all Dennison Aquatites are plated with ss screw backs.

  11. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Curta View Post
    I'm pretty sure that all Dennison Aquatites are plated with ss screw backs.
    I didn't know that.

    However Dennison certainly made stainless variations on the Aquatite for special applications, such as the recasing of the Omega and Longines into the '56 6b/159. They also made solid gold watches to almost the same pattern as both the snapback and screwback Dennisons. I'm pretty sure I can dig up both versions from somewhere in the back of the safe.

  12. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by M4tt View Post
    I didn't know that.

    However Dennison certainly made stainless variations on the Aquatite for special applications, such as the recasing of the Omega and Longines into the '56 6b/159. They also made solid gold watches to almost the same pattern as both the snapback and screwback Dennisons. I'm pretty sure I can dig up both versions from somewhere in the back of the safe.
    Sorry, should have said 'for Smiths Everest range' as I don't know about Dennison Aquatites produced for others, or indeed the entire extensive Smiths catalogue. Interested in what you can find. The Dennison case serial number of Hillary's Smiths is 73359.

    James Merrens has written up some information about Dennison Aquatite cases for the Smiths Everest range on his site: https://www.smithswatches.com/blogs/...smiths-watches
    Last edited by Mr Curta; 21st February 2018 at 03:22.

  13. #63
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    The famous advert below is telling in what it omits. No mention of Hillary, or of being first.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Curta View Post
    The famous advert below is telling in what it omits. No mention of Hillary, or of being first.

    It's more telling in its similarities to Hunt's letter and earlier publishing date, as I discussed above.

  15. #65
    Only just seen this thread and can’t think of anything to add except to say I always enjoy reading M4tt and Curta.

    Oh, yes, one thing I can confirm albeit at secondhand is that Hillary’s Smiths is a standard 15 jewel movement but was winterised with special low temperature lubricants. Again I only have this at second hand but I did speak to the chap who had worked on the low viscosity oils.

    So, to conclude, it was a Rolex Explorer that Hillary and Tensing wore to the summit and anyone who says otherwise is a hater and doesn’t know how to read simple Rolex publicity. ;-)

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    It is interesting to note that Hillary's watch description at the Clockmakers' collection states that it was "worn by Sir Edmund Hillary's during his successful climb to the summit" and that Hillary himself uses the very odd phrase "I carried your watch to the summit".
    In an era of scrupulous honesty and precise phraseology, it seems clear that his Smiths was not considered as vital as the PR guys would have liked, and that it was in his rucksack, or pocket, but most definitely not on is wrist at the time that he and Tensing summited.

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    Smith's or Rolex - Which One Was the First Watch on Mt. Everest?

    Thanks for the thread dig, an enjoyable read.

    Just need Eddie to hurry up with the white dial Everest’s now....

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    Quote Originally Posted by sweets View Post
    It is interesting to note that Hillary's watch description at the Clockmakers' collection states that it was "worn by Sir Edmund Hillary's during his successful climb to the summit" and that Hillary himself uses the very odd phrase "I carried your watch to the summit".
    In an era of scrupulous honesty and precise phraseology, it seems clear that his Smiths was not considered as vital as the PR guys would have liked, and that it was in his rucksack, or pocket, but most definitely not on is wrist at the time that he and Tensing summited.
    Presumption. People use differing phrasing. So 'most definately on his wrist' would be just as valid.

    Tha rabid Rolex fan boys will bring this topic up continually in the hope of re-writing history via the internet 'truth'.

  19. #69
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    So what watch was Mallory wearing? Hilary was hardly the first mountaineer on Everest. Justbthe most successful.

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    Quote Originally Posted by paskinner View Post
    So what watch was Mallory wearing? Hilary was hardly the first mountaineer on Everest. Justbthe most successful.
    I think the general consensus is that Mallory was probably wearing a Rolex.

    It’s not really relevant though as he wasn’t the first to reach the summit.

  21. #71
    Common sense tells one that if it is still being debated, there is no conclusive evidence one way or the other. If there were, this would have been settled a long time ago. There is very little likelihood of a smoking gun emerging. The wise person will accept that we don't know and we will never know. Some ardent Rolex lovers will insist it was Rolex. Fans of Smiths or Rolex haters/baiters will insist it was Smiths. We can continue parsing words till cows come home but unless there is fresh evidence, we will be going around in circles. Still, it is always a fun and an interesting debate. For myself, I am not convinced either way.

  22. #72
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    Quote Originally Posted by sweets View Post
    It is interesting to note that Hillary's watch description at the Clockmakers' collection states that it was "worn by Sir Edmund Hillary's during his successful climb to the summit" and that Hillary himself uses the very odd phrase "I carried your watch to the summit".
    In an era of scrupulous honesty and precise phraseology, it seems clear that his Smiths was not considered as vital as the PR guys would have liked, and that it was in his rucksack, or pocket, but most definitely not on is wrist at the time that he and Tensing summited.
    You did see the photographs earlier?

  23. #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave+63 View Post
    I think the general consensus is that Mallory was probably wearing a Rolex.

    It’s not really relevant though as he wasn’t the first to reach the summit.
    And that’s the problem with The General Consensus. Mallory was wearing a 1915 silver Borgel with a Fontainemelon movement. Even Rolex fanboys will struggle with this one as it was recovered from his body on Everest in 1999 and is currently in the RGS collection. I have literally touched it. At this point Rolex didn’t offer a waterproof watch of their own but did use the 1903 patent, rather than the 1895 patent that Mallory wore, Borgel waterproof cases for their watches. That’s where they stole the idea from...

  24. #74
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    It’s possible that Mallory did reach the summit.....but you have to return alive.

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    Quote Originally Posted by M'4tt View Post
    You did see the photographs earlier?
    Yes, and there are none showing a worn watch on the summit. Hence the debate.

    The phraseology is tellingly exact. "Carried" is not worn, when worn would be the only word to use if it was. Similarly on the museum caption, wWorn "during" the climb does not mean worn on the summit. I am not arguing that the Smiths watch wasn't with him, I am sure it was, and that he wore it during the climb, but I think it is most likely that it was not being worn at its crowning moment on the roof of the world. The language is very clear in not making that claim.

    And Hillary's character as a simple and honest man, plus there being no attributable direct quotation at the time or subsequently saying that he actually wore it on the summit is also telling. It seems he did not want to be in PR for Smiths, and he did not want to make a dishonest claim, so he didn't.
    Dave

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    Quote Originally Posted by RAJEN View Post
    Common sense tells one that if it is still being debated, there is no conclusive evidence one way or the other. If there were, this would have been settled a long time ago. There is very little likelihood of a smoking gun emerging. The wise person will accept that we don't know and we will never know. Some ardent Rolex lovers will insist it was Rolex. Fans of Smiths or Rolex haters/baiters will insist it was Smiths. We can continue parsing words till cows come home but unless there is fresh evidence, we will be going around in circles. Still, it is always a fun and an interesting debate. For myself, I am not convinced either way.
    So, For Hillary, the fact that he said he took the A409 there and didn’t say he took the Rolex, combined with the fact that there are multiple pictures of him wearing a watch that, if you looked at the better quality picture above, clearly has Smiths style lugs rather tha Rolex ones. This combined with the fact that he personally donated the Smiths he wore to The Worshipful Company of Clockmakers in whose collection it still resides, now in the British Museum.

    The question then is what was Norgay wearing...

    In other words, he said he used the gun, there’s photos of the smoke and the Gun is still in the museum. If it wasn’t for the Rolex fanboys this would be absolutely resolved. As for my neutrality, I own a close example of literally every watch, clock and pocket watch identified as used on the mountain up to 1956, including Odell’s waterproof pocket watch that literally none of you have even heard of, but was the watch that he used to time the last sighting of Mallory.

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    I have little to add to this debate, so many seem to have a very in depth knowledge. I am a little confused however concerning the "A409". Pictured below is what SmithS marketed as an A409. Hillary's watch in the Science Museum although very similar in many senses to the A409, movement (apart from oils, unless it is a 16 jewel?), Dennison Aquatite case...is not an A409 as marketed by SmithS, apparently from 1953. I don't think that there is a model reference number for Hillary's SmithS but I am very happy to be corrected.

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    Quote Originally Posted by size11s View Post
    I have little to add to this debate, so many seem to have a very in depth knowledge. I am a little confused however concerning the "A409". Pictured below is what SmithS marketed as an A409. Hillary's watch in the Science Museum although very similar in many senses to the A409, movement (apart from oils, unless it is a 16 jewel?), Dennison Aquatite case...is not an A409 as marketed by SmithS, apparently from 1953. I don't think that there is a model reference number for Hillary's SmithS but I am very happy to be corrected.
    This has been discussed before. Smiths certainly call it the A409, but your observation is quite correct. The consensus is that they had to call it something and this was closest. Personally I think the A404 is significantly closer, but...

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    There was an A209 (same dial/movement but not in an Aquatite case) advertised in 1952.

    It was my understanding from reading other threads/forums that the watches presented to the expedition party after the successful ascent were this model of A409 as illustrated and that is how the A409 model reference got associated. Is this information out of date now?

    Cheers.
    Mark

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    I just happen to be wearing this today.


  31. #81
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    It might be worth bearing in mind that the success of Rolex has never been based on major historic events. Take the, arguably, three most successful sports models...Submariner, Daytona and GMT. None are associated with great historical moments, rather with movies, actors ...and ‘pilots.’
    Same with the DateJust, a best seller associated with no-one in particular. Even the DayDate tends to be loosely associated with “Presidents” rather than a specific man or event.

  32. #82
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    Very interesting, but nothing conclusive other than Hillary was the first to get up and down.

    But what I find odd is that some of Rolex's other achievements seem to be over looked. Specifically the daring do's performed by Picard and Triste, the achievements of Chuck Yeager in his X1 while wearing he Oyster, Mercedes Gleitze, who swam the English Channel in 1927 and of course all the divers associated with Comex.

    All of which helped forge Rolex's reputation for making very robust, accurate and waterproof watches - which lets face it is what the the punters wants.

    Ref a certain Hollywood actors watch, I think people forget that Newman served in WW2, was a true Hollywood A lister complete with an Academy Award, raised over $400M for charity, raced and finished second at Le Mans, completed at Daytona, etc, etc plus ran a very successful race team before being induced into the SCCA Hall of fame. He even managed to get on Nixons "most hated list". All irrelevant simply because a certain Dial type used in Rolex Daytona is know as a Newman.

    Whoever does not know how to hit the nail on the head should be asked not to hit it at all.
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  33. #83
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    Quote Originally Posted by size11s View Post
    There was an A209 (same dial/movement but not in an Aquatite case) advertised in 1952.

    It was my understanding from reading other threads/forums that the watches presented to the expedition party after the successful ascent were this model of A409 as illustrated and that is how the A409 model reference got associated. Is this information out of date now?

    Cheers.
    Mark
    I'm not sure it ever was. There's always been a letter to Smiths from the RGS asking for invoices on the watches and invoices following from both Smiths and Rolex. There's no denying that both companies gave watches to the expedition and that both were worn by a variety of members on the expedition.

  34. #84
    "I carried your watch to the summit" is an odd phrase but it's more than he said for or about Rolex.

    Re the A409: I think that invoice dates from after the ascent and the team were gifted standard retail watches of that type. Hillary's actual model is a very early De Luxe with no (or an unknown) stock code / reference number.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andyg View Post
    Very interesting, but nothing conclusive other than Hillary was the first to get up and down.

    But what I find odd is that some of Rolex's other achievements seem to be over looked. Specifically the daring do's performed by Picard and Triste, the achievements of Chuck Yeager in his X1 while wearing he Oyster, Mercedes Gleitze, who swam the English Channel in 1927 and of course all the divers associated with Comex.

    All of which helped forge Rolex's reputation for making very robust, accurate and waterproof watches - which lets face it is what the the punters wants.

    Ref a certain Hollywood actors watch, I think people forget that Newman served in WW2, was a true Hollywood A lister complete with an Academy Award, raised over $400M for charity, raced and finished second at Le Mans, completed at Daytona, etc, etc plus ran a very successful race team before being induced into the SCCA Hall of fame. He even managed to get on Nixons "most hated list". All irrelevant simply because a certain Dial type used in Rolex Daytona is know as a Newman.
    Well, Mercedes Gleitz never actually swam the channel wearing a Rolex and don't get me started about the X1, but yes, Rolex have more than booked their place in history. Which makes the obsession with what they didn't achieve all the stranger.

  36. #86
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    This is a fascinating thread, really enjoying the 'murder mystery' feel. Thanks so far to all the people who have contributed. Keep posting please.


    Sent from my Lenovo A1010a20 using Tapatalk

  37. #87
    Master animalone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by M4tt View Post
    Well, Mercedes Gleitz never actually swam the channel wearing a Rolex and don't get me started about the X1, but yes, Rolex have more than booked their place in history. Which makes the obsession with what they didn't achieve all the stranger.
    Rolex have certainty earned their good reputation and I have a huge amount of respect for them, but like many companies they have glossed over history to suit their own perspective .
    I seem to recall that they had to print an apology to Harwood for claiming they invented the first automatic wristwatch. And their claim that they invented the first "waterproof" wristwatch is still widely believed today.

  38. #88
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    Quote Originally Posted by RAJEN View Post
    Common sense tells one that if it is still being debated, there is no conclusive evidence one way or the other. If there were, this would have been settled a long time ago. There is very little likelihood of a smoking gun emerging. The wise person will accept that we don't know and we will never know. Some ardent Rolex lovers will insist it was Rolex. Fans of Smiths or Rolex haters/baiters will insist it was Smiths. We can continue parsing words till cows come home but unless there is fresh evidence, we will be going around in circles. Still, it is always a fun and an interesting debate. For myself, I am not convinced either way.
    Common sense? There are people who still debate whether the moon landings or the Holocaust actually happened. I’m happy to take the evidence of Hillary’s word as conclusive proof that he had the Smiths with him at the summit, and as he also said that it ‘worked perfectly’ as a fair indicator that he had kept it wound it up throughout. I’d be surprised if Tenzing wasn’t wearing his personal Rolex but there’s less irrefutable evidence.

  39. #89
    Re: There are people who still debate whether the moon landings or the Holocaust actually happened.

    These matters are not being debated. They are talked about by lunatics and conspiracy theorists on the fringes. I am not sure the analogy works at any level. Treating debaters on either side of this divide to such a comparison is a disservice to both.

  40. #90
    I think the statement that Smiths supporters place their greatest stake on- I carried your watch is the one that creates
    the most doubt. Let us imagine we are not talking watches but other mountaineering gear, let's take shoes for example.
    If Hilary was wearing La Sportiva GS boots at the summit, can you imagine how ridiculous it would look if he said - I carried your shoes to the summit and they worked perfectly. There are a lot of pictures and people are interpreting the evidence the way that suits their belief. The only evidence that would count is a picture on the summit. Smiths have made a claim that Hilary wore their watch to the summit, Rolex has talked about in circles. Both on the blogs that support the Smiths theory and the members here who do the same there are snarky undertones suggesting Rolex is the big bad wolf that stole the candy from Smiths. It is incredibly fascinating to see these images and certainly a very interesting debate. As said previously, I am not sure of anything here. The fact that Rolex has made no claims could either suggest that they don't have definite evidence or that they don't have a valid claim. Hilary could very well have been wearing a Smiths but his statement creates doubts. May be he didn't wear any watch and kept Smiths with him at the summit and didn't 'carry' his Rolex to the summit in which case it is still a valid case for it being the watch to the summit AND back, just not the first watch worn up and down. Rolex marketing is what it is- an incredibly well oiled, well funded and successful machine. Any smart company would do the same. Whether they can do it as successfully is another matter. Constant gripes about the marketing are plain silly and unhelpful in resolving the debate.

  41. #91
    Quote Originally Posted by M4tt View Post
    Well, Mercedes Gleitz never actually swam the channel wearing a Rolex and don't get me started about the X1, but yes, Rolex have more than booked their place in history. Which makes the obsession with what they didn't achieve all the stranger.
    So, while Hilary's statement that he carried his Smiths to Everest has validity but Glietze's statement doesn't prove anything?



    To be fair, she wore it on her validation swim and not the first swim. And, for the record she was wearing it on her neck and not the wrist:-)

    And honestly I would love to hear your views on Chuck Yeager and X-1.
    Last edited by RAJEN; 23rd February 2019 at 05:53.

  42. #92
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    I think that too much is being read into the word ‘carried’.

    Is it not possible that, in respect of watches, the term ‘carried’ was used at the time as synonymous with ‘worn’? After all, people had ‘carried’ pocket watches for many years. ‘Wearing’ a watch on a strap is something that for Mercedes Gleitz would have been relatively new. Hillary’s quotes seem to me indicate a slightly archaic ‘old-school’ form of English, perhaps not surprisingly for a New Zealander with a schoolteacher for a mother who studied at Auckland Grammar School.

  43. #93
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    Quote Originally Posted by RAJEN View Post
    So, while Hilary's statement that he carried his Smiths to Everest has validity but Glietze's statement doesn't prove anything?



    To be fair, she wore it on her validation swim and not the first swim. And, for the record she was wearing it on her neck and not the wrist:-)

    And honestly I would love to hear your views on Chuck Yeager and X-1.

    Of of course I don’t. Did she succesfully swim the channel during her validation swim? Nope. Did Hillary climb Everest? Yup. Incidentally, Did you look at the pictures of the two watches and the higher quality scan rather than the copy of a copy from a book? What do you think of the lugs? Yeager was a brave man doing good science but the fact is that the sabre broke the sound barrier first, the Me262 pilots notes contained descriptionjs of transonic flight and, before Yeager broke the barrier described the smoothness and return of full control the other side and, of course, The X1 project had hit a wall due to control surface separation of airflow causing loss of control until they lied their way into getting the Miles M51 research and changed their approach to control. Visit the old Miles factory at Woodley, which of course is also where Bader crashed...

  44. #94
    Matt,
    I was vaguely aware of George Welch's claim to breaking the sound barrier. A quick internet search shows there are several others including Komet pilots laying a claim to same. Unfortunately none of these are properly timed/documented or having any kind of robust evidence. Stories about saying- look I am going up and you are going to hear a big sound are hardly considered evidence. I am not denying that there is a possibility that some of these might be true but you seem to be choosing to believe a lot of things and dismiss others conviniently to fit a narrative which I don't need to spell out. The old adage that for those who don't believe no evidence is enough etc can apply to either side.
    Regardless, Rolex was at the forefront of all of these 'disputed' claims one way or the other and they have successfully created a well deserved reputation for being 'the watch' for all these adventures/records and it is hard to deny them the credit. They are still standing and creating quality products. Hans Waldorf was a genius. OF marketing as well amongst other things.

  45. #95
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    Quote Originally Posted by alfat33 View Post
    I think that too much is being read into the word ‘carried’.

    Is it not possible that, in respect of watches, the term ‘carried’ was used at the time as synonymous with ‘worn’? After all, people had ‘carried’ pocket watches for many years. ‘Wearing’ a watch on a strap is something that for Mercedes Gleitz would have been relatively new. Hillary’s quotes seem to me indicate a slightly archaic ‘old-school’ form of English, perhaps not surprisingly for a New Zealander with a schoolteacher for a mother who studied at Auckland Grammar School.
    I think you are bang-on with that.

    ”When I was in London - I used to take The Independant”.

    When we all know that means “read”. Lots of pretentious folk - still use the term “take”, but only when they are referring to a broadsheet newspaper.

  46. #96
    To answer the question in the thread title: Smiths. Hillary and/or Tenzing may have also worn/carried Rolex(es) but that’s conjecture. It seems that both men had a Rolex by this point but the only unequivocal claim is Hillary’s for Smiths.

    Rolex fanboys, enabled by the company’s very carefully worded (and sometimes downright misleading) PR copy, will continue to believe what they want.

    Edit: exhibit A



    Source: https://forum.tz-uk.com/showthread.p...xplorer-1-quot

    “The very first Rolex Explorers were created for the first successful ascent of Everest.”

    No, they might have been developed from the watches used (bubbleback OPs iirc) but no watch called an Explorer even existed in May 1953. (And how could Rolex have known it would be the "the first successful ascent" before the fact?)
    Last edited by Rev-O; 23rd February 2019 at 09:55.

  47. #97
    How many members are 'carrying' a watch today?
    I am wearing one for the record and is working fine.

  48. #98
    Grand Master Saint-Just's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RAJEN View Post
    How many members are 'carrying' a watch today?
    I am wearing one for the record and is working fine.
    What has ‘today’ got to do with 60+ year old events?
    Well, everybody in Casablanca has problems. Yours may work out.

  49. #99
    Quote Originally Posted by Saint-Just View Post
    What has ‘today’ got to do with 60+ year old events?
    I don't think meaning or implication of the word 'carry' has changed in 60+ years.
    People used to 'wear' watches 60+ years ago and they do the same today. One carries a fire arm but one wears a watch. Unless ofcourse if it is not worn.

  50. #100
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    What did you wear in the bighouse ?

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