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

  1. #201
    I'm in two minds about putting my entire email correspondence with Philipp Stahl on here (he's asked me not to and to be honest there's nothing to be learned from it) but I am happy to quote what he says on his blog.

    It actually appears twice:

    "Although it will always remain a mystery if Rolex was literally on the summit, the Oyster Perpetual models were an essential part of the equipment back then."

    Sources:

    http://rolexpassionreport.com/5722/t...nzing-edition/

    http://rolexpassionreport.com/4590/r...and-obsession/

    I can say I agree with that 100%

    Of course, what isn't a "mystery" is that Smiths "was literally on the summit"

    And I think that's me done.

    Cheers

    Ollie

  2. #202
    Grand Master abraxas's Avatar
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    When I was a kid I remember rumours that it was Norgay who stepped on the summit first...

    After some googling...
    https://www.scotsman.com/news/hillar...ment-1-2946398

  3. #203
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rev-O View Post
    I'm in two minds about putting my entire email correspondence with Philipp Stahl on here (he's asked me not to and to be honest there's nothing to be learned from it) but I am happy to quote what he says on his blog.

    It actually appears twice:

    "Although it will always remain a mystery if Rolex was literally on the summit, the Oyster Perpetual models were an essential part of the equipment back then."

    Sources:

    http://rolexpassionreport.com/5722/t...nzing-edition/

    http://rolexpassionreport.com/4590/r...and-obsession/

    I can say I agree with that 100%

    Of course, what isn't a "mystery" is that Smiths "was literally on the summit"

    And I think that's me done.

    Cheers

    Ollie
    Why essential? Rolex were in the habit of gifting watches to people they thought might end up in the public eye or who already were in the public eye. Their connection with British mountaineering was tenuous at best: Eric Shipton happened to wear a first generation cushion Oyster between the late Twenties and early fifties. Literally the only evidence that the Cho Oyu expedition were given Rolex I have ever seen, is Hillary’s very much solicited testimonial. (And I'd be delighted to see any evidence whatsoever that Rolex actually gave watches to any UK Everest attempt prior to 1953. Watches claimed to be from the 1952 expedition clearly were not and there’s no documentary support for them at the RGS.

    More to the point, the internet is literally awash with poorly argued poorly evidenced fantasy concerning who wore what when and why. Most of the putative 'facts' about watches on Everest are just the result of one person's musings being endlessly repeated until they become 'common knowledge'. Many of these are flat wrong.

    Smiths, on the other hand, provided a wealth of mission critical equipment including altimeters, flow rate meters and pressure gauges. They supported the expedition in a myriad ways and helped develop critical equipment and techniques, such as supporting Pugh’s work on optimum oxygen flow rates.

    Face it, in ‘53 there were a profusion of suitable watches, but there were no other watch companies with Smith’s depth of experience concerning instrumentation across the board. Smiths contributed a damned sight more than watches and their overall contribution was genuinely essential.

    Rolex’s exercise in product placement was merely opportunistic. As such, the fact that there was no Rolex on the summit is entirely poetic justice.
    Last edited by M4tt; 5th March 2019 at 13:28.

  4. #204
    Good point. Maybe not ďessentialĒ then (except to Rolex who were desperate to be first to the top).

    But letís throw a bone to Philipp; the facts are against him so I thought Iíd find something heíd written that we both agree on. Itís nice to be nice, magnanimous in victory and all that. ;-)

  5. #205
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rev-O View Post
    Good point. Maybe not ďessentialĒ then (except to Rolex who were desperate to be first to the top).

    But letís throw a bone to Philipp; the facts are against him so I thought Iíd find something heíd written that we both agree on. Itís nice to be nice, magnanimous in victory and all that. ;-)
    I'm not really seeing it as a victory. I see a bunch of folk trying to piece together the best account of a small historical event that we care about due to our hobby. A victory would be if this chap joined in, argued his case as best he could and changed both his mind and his blog in response to changing awareness of the facts. As did we.

    Many of these are up for honest debate - for example, I think I clearly see a A404(9) in some of those pictures and you don't. I concede that they are just a shade too blurry for it to be absolutely certain and we carry on.

    However, some things are beyond denial - that Gregory's watch is from quarter one of 1953 (and thus so is the watch in the Beyer Basement if Stahl's claim is true). This means that, as a matter of indisputable fact, Stahl's blog account is simply false. Likewise, The fact that the watch worn by Tenzing throughout the expedition is clearly not gold but silver means that he wasn't wearing the Rolex given to him after the '52 expedition.

    To not engage and not change his blog when presented with absolute facts means everyone loses. To accidentally peddle falsehoods is one thing. To deliberately peddle them is another.

    There's too much of this sort of stuff on the internet.

  6. #206
    Yes, agreed.

    I'm still musing your questions: "What is the source for his [Philipp Stahl's] claims about "The secret number “29”, Rolex Everest Prototype Code." It's clear that Hillary's watch has 28 on it, but I can't see it on Evan's watch"

    And: "What precisely made the watches worn by Hunt's expedition a prototype? it's an A296 winding module on a Cal.765 movement in a 'Big Bubbleback' 6098 case. Nothing about them, individually or collectively, could remotely be described as a prototype in 1953, and that specific combination was commercially available well before the '53 expedition."

    The low-temp lube and extra long strap are clearly mods made for the conditions but otherwise they seem to be standard retail references.

    Re Tenzing's watch(se) in the photos: it may be that he was lent / given a stainless steel Rolex by someone on one of the expeditions he went on and/or the '53 Hunt trip.

    On this point, Stahl is very good: "Tenzing was not a member in 1953 and thus did not get a Rolex/Smith from the British, so what was he wearing? Best rumour so far that has been spread around is by Jamling Tenzing in the forword of a Rolex book: ” it was a gold bubbleback given to him by his good friend Raymond Lambert.”

    Source: https://rolexpassionreport.com/919/t...-norgay-rolex/

    The trouble is that in the colour photos it certainly doesn't look like a gold watch. So it could be either a Rolex or a Smiths, or both: different watches in different photos. Who knows?

    But later Stahl goes on to say:

    "It was Raymond [...] who convinced Tenzing to join the British ’53 Everest Team. [...] Tenzings wife back then advised him not to take his Rolex [the gold Datejust] to this 1953 Expedition. So again, after Lambert convinced Tenzing to join the British, he now had to make sure Tenzing was wearing a Rolex. I asked her why her husband was so pertinent… She explained to me that Raymond was in full believe Rolex, as genevan based, deserved it to be worn on top of a succesful ascent!
    In honor of his friendship Tenzing decided to please Lambert, and did not take the “schmutz” she continued!
    At first I thought, what’s a “schmutz”, so I asked her…she said her husband always said it like this to her. As we where talking german, the coin dropped and from “schmut”(German for dirty;)I explained her it was Smith, lol! 

    So I think the implication is that Norgay wore a stainless steel Rolex OP on the '53 Hunt expedition in honour of his friend Raymond Lambert.

    That's very helpful.

    The problem is that Stahl bases a lot of what he says on "working together with the Hillary & Tenzing families on one of my Heritage projects". OK, so it's what he says they said. And not Sir Ed or Tenzing Norgay themselves, but the their families. No recordings, no transcripts, just his say-so. Very poor methodology.

    He claims credit for "digging out the official invoices at the RGS etc." Ok, that's good archival work. A primary resource. But we've got the same for Smiths.

    Things can be thrashed out on a forum and people post new info (that letter from Mr Winter is incredible) but a blog has no chance to reply, discuss, refine.

    And Stahl says as much in his last email to me. I said: "But your blog doesn’t allow any interaction. How can people ask you questions? You don’t seem to want to have a debate or discussion. That is how knowledge grows."

    His reply? "Exactly. I'm beyond the phase of debating anything when I found out everything."

    OK, so he knows "everything" that there is or ever will be to know. End of. Fixed and final. Case closed. No new evidence.

    Imagine if academics and scientists and researchers did that: just pulled down the shutters and refused to admit any new facts or findings.

    But when you have a "passion" it's hard to be open-minded.

    As I've said, I own and love and wear both Smiths and Rolex.

    I'm a winner whichever one Hillary (and Norgay) wore to the top.

    I have a passion for both brands but an even bigger one for truth.

  7. #207
    Master Mr Curta's Avatar
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    Stahlís blog is so screamingly biased that one can only hope that many will see it as poorly corroborated and of little historical value. I think that thereís bugger all chance of him engaging here or revising his text although privately he must now be well aware of how half-baked his words will look to those who dig a little deeper. As injustices go itís a relatively minor one and there are far more important things in life.

    Iím simply delighted to now be aware of another vital and decisive piece of the jigsaw, and Broussard is forthwith appointed to the Order of the Golden Curta.


    source: private collection Switzerland

  8. #208
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    Right...

    Iíll do this properly later, but itís worth reading in its entirety.

    rolexpassionreport.com/919/the-historical-important-tenzing-norgay-rolex/

    It is riven with obvious falsehoods and claims that donít remotely fit the facts. I particularly like:

    John Hunt came with a message from the young UK Queen in spe to Raymond in asking him to convince Tenzing to join!
    Although the repetition of the claim that all Rolex were returned to Rolex comes a close second.

  9. #209
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    Are you guys certain it wasnít a Casio?

  10. #210
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    Quote Originally Posted by Montello View Post
    Are you guys certain it wasn’t a Casio?
    Yup. They didn’t even make their first calculater until a year after the ascent. It wasn’t portable. Their first quartz was twenty odd years later.

    You asked.

  11. #211
    Grand Master Dave+63's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by M4tt View Post
    Yup. They didnít even make their first calculater until a year after the ascent. It wasnít portable. Their first quartz was twenty odd years later.

    You asked.
    Maybe, but when they invent time travel....

  12. #212
    Quote Originally Posted by M4tt View Post
    Right...

    I’ll do this properly later, but it’s worth reading in its entirety.

    rolexpassionreport.com/919/the-historical-important-tenzing-norgay-rolex/

    It is riven with obvious falsehoods and claims that don’t remotely fit the facts. I particularly like:



    Although the repetition of the claim that all Rolex were returned to Rolex comes a close second.
    Just on that one page alone we read:

    "Tenzings own words to his family where that he worn this Rolex [the gold Datejust] on the Mt.Everest."

    So PS says that TN's family told him (PS) that TS told them that he [TN] wore the gold watch on (but not necessarily to the summit of) Everest.

    Umm . . . OK. Whatever. It's a he-said-she-said third- or fourth-hand account from a clearly biased narrator. It might even be true. But in all the colour photos of Norgay on the '53 Hunt team I have never seen a gold watch. Chrome / silver with a white dial, yes. Could be a Smiths. Could be a Rolex. Could be both at different times. But never a gold watch. If Stahl or anyone can find a photo of Norgay wearing a gold watch with the Hunt expedition I will be delighted to be proved wrong.

    I can imagine that Raymond Lambert, being Swiss, might have felt strongly pro-Rolex (although possibly not as strongly as Stahl!) and was keen for one to get to the top with the British expedition (the Swiss having rather let Rolex down in '52). So maybe he did ask Norgay to specifically wear a Rolex. It's not impossible. The detail with with such 60 year old conversations have been recalled and recorded might seem . . . unusual (remember, most people don't care about watches. My wife thinks I've got three because "they all look the same" and I'm careful never to leave more than two out while wearing a third.) But again, not impossible.

    My email chat with Stahl was . . . well, I'd call it "tetchy", on his part. I'm well used to the blunt directness of the Dutch (I used to speak it passably well) but even allowing for that Stahl came across as rude. One might even say defensive.

    But he's clearly so threatened by the Cheltenham watchmakers that he can barely bring himself to say their name (a kind of horological Voldemort).

    So in post #30 here https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/vint...23059-s20.html

    It's "Rolex & Schmutz...." when Hillary or Norgay are wearing two watches.

    Obviously when it's TWO watches it's "Rolex & Schmutz...." but when either man is photographed wearing only one it's a Rolex. Of course. (Now, I'd happy to say that many of those indistinct, blurry old photos of silver coloured watches with a white dials could be *either* a Rolex *or* a Smiths. Because I'm not a religious zealous in the cult of Rolex. Some photos -- see earlier in this thread -- do seem to me to be more likely one or the other, Rolex or Smiths, judging by the very different shapes of the lugs and midcase. But I wouldn't bet my life on any of them. In most shots the watch could be either.)

    I guess we are dealing with a fanatic and one very heavily invested (emotionally, intellectually and probably financially) in Rolex. In a balanced, objective account you'd expect such a massive piece of research into the watches used on the successful conquest of Everest to mention Hillary's watch in the Science Museum. But, no, nothing. You might expect the academic historian to admit that there is some ambiguity, some conflict, some uncertainty. But, no, none of that. You might expect a serious and lengthy investigation into Hillary's watches to make more than two or three passing and dismissive references to Smiths. Again, no.

    When your "passion" stops you being balanced, objective and open-minded it's dangerously close to being a mental health issue.
    Last edited by Rev-O; 5th March 2019 at 22:31. Reason: grandma

  13. #213
    Master Mr Curta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by M4tt View Post
    Yup. They didnít even make their first calculater until a year after the ascent. It wasnít portable. Their first quartz was twenty odd years later.
    By '53 the Curta Type I was well established as the best quality portable mechanical calculator available. I heard from a mate of a bloke in Lichtenstein whose grandfather supplied the Swiss '52 team with 'measuring and calculating devices' that they left a Type I at Base Camp with a group of Sherpas so that they could work out if they were being diddled by those notoriously underhand Britishers. It's true, honest.

  14. #214
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    Heís talking nonsense too. Itís a matter of historical record, records held at the RGS and that Stahl clearly missed, that Tenzing was hired by Jill Smith well before anyone from the UK arrived. This is confirmed in a telegram dated Jan 2nd 1953. He was hired as Sirdar with an agreement he wouldnít climb above camp three unless he had recovered from an injury sustained the year before. This telegram has been reported in several of the better books on Everest as well as being in the RGS collection. He also couldnít speak French, just as Lambert couldnít speak English or Hindi.

    As for his wife not wanting him to take his Smiths, they were not issued until Hunt arrived in Kathmandu so she would never have seen it or had any reason to talk about a watch he didnt know heíd get until he met Hunt.

  15. #215
    Thanks for the kind words. The letters are freely available to anyone with access to either the hardcopies of the BHIís Horological Journal (I got mine from eBay) or the digitised versions via the AHS. If these letters lead to interesting and original research, then I feel weíve done our job. It would be fantastic to write this up as a peer reviewed article for, e.g. the HJ or indeed the AHSí Journal.

  16. #216
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Curta View Post
    By '53 the Curta Type I was well established as the best quality portable mechanical calculator available. I heard from a mate of a bloke in Lichtenstein whose grandfather supplied the Swiss '52 team with 'measuring and calculating devices' that they left a Type I at Base Camp with a group of Sherpas so that they could work out if they were being diddled by those notoriously underhand Britishers. It's true, honest.
    Of course I believe you. IĒm sure you will be equally sympathetic to a similar tale I know, soon to be released in my new blog: Complete Rolex Absolute Passion.


    it's a well known fact that the commander of Twelve Group, fighter command, Trafford Leigh-Mallory insisted that all of his pilots wore Rolex Air King watches to commemorate the successful ascent, but tragically unsuccessful descent, of Everest by his brother George Leigh-Mallory, who carried a Rolex Oyster to the summit as part of the top secret R&D process that led to the Explorer. The dispute between Keith Park, AOC commanding Eleven Group, who insisted his Spitfire pilots wore the almost eponymous Omega and Mallory who was equally insistent on them using the Air king led to the so called 'big king' controversy, one of the most contentious events of the Battle of Britain.

    The famous ace, Douglas Bader, argued that the allegedly superior timekeeping of the Air King allowed his pilots to rapidly form up into larger formations, the so called 'big kings' named after the watch that he, and his commander, believed made assembling such complex formations possible. Park, on the other hand, insisted on the flexibility of using single squadrons. Whether this strategy was forced on him because of the reliability of his watches or a tactical choice has been a moot point for over seventy years. Likewise, the assertion that the Air King had a tendency to run slow, causing the Big Kings to tend to intercept aircraft after they had bombed rather than before has been hotly denied by the secret Rolex service department at White Waltham.

    Whatever the truth, the fact is that, shortly after the successful defence of British airspace that led directly to the cancellation of Operation Sealion, the proposed invasion of Britain, the C in C of Fighter command and architect of the victory was retired and shunted abroad, while Park, the commander who bore the brunt of the battle, was moved to a training command.

    While this looked like a victory for Rolex, they rapidly realised that the market was about to be flooded with cheap American fakes and abruptly changed their marketing strategy; Bader, their most successful advocate, was parachuted into Germany (under a cover story of being shot down) to set up a successful chain of Rolex concessions in prisoner of war camps. The rest, they say, is history.

    Obviously, the covert and highly secret battle between Rolex and Omega was rather ineffectively camouflaged by British Intelligence in much the same way as they pretended that eating carrots was the secret of British night fighter pilots' success. In fact, it was the combination of the superior lume of Omega watches, that allowed them to navigate accurately without lights at night, and onboard radar to home in on a target once in the right place. Even today, people believe carrots help you see in the dark and that Omega lume is rubbish.

    Look at the facts: in nineteen forty, Douglas Bader was a very junior commander, while he had been in the RAF from the late twenties, without promotion, he was pensioned off in 1933 after losing his legs while ignoring regulations and performing aerobatics with no safety margin. He rejoined the RAF in October 1939, by April of 1940 was put in charge of a squadron and by August of 1940, while still only a flight lieutenant, he was routinely given tactical control of as many as five squadrons. In short, in under a year Bader went from a civilian ex pilot officer to the responsibilities usually afforded to a wing commander.

    For an ordinary pilot, this meteoric rise would be unthinkable, but for a Rolex ambassador, tasked with turning Leigh-Mallory's obsession with Rolex into a military and commercial success it makes perfect sense. Bader was catapulted into the middle of this controversy as Rolex's representative with the task of showing that the Air King was the watch the Air Ministry needed. I will not get into the details of the apparent over claiming by the so called Big King and infamous sales meeting at the Air Ministry, but the subtle hand of the Rolex publicity department is clear throughout.

    In these days of satnav and GPS, it is easy to forget how important navigation was and the critical role that chronometers had served in the British military since Harrison perfected the Ship's chronometer. Unfortunately, then as now, both Omega and Rolex chronometers were prohibitively expensive, and the purchase of so many watches by the RAF and by individual pilots, left both the pilots and the Government heavily in debt, a fact wryly commented upon by Churchill when summing up the battle: "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few". It still defies belief that Rolex and Omega, working together, have managed to completely change the public perception of this statement and duck Churchill's clear accusation of profiteering.


  17. #217
    Ironically, Smiths (or Schmutz) did make watches for the RAF in WW2. As well manufacturing in-house stop- and pocket- watches they imported the JLC Weems (almost certainly supplied through the contacts Robert Lenoir had at both firms). Perhaps most remarkably Smiths even had a go at making a ďMk XĒ 6B/159 wristwatch.

    More info here: https://forum.tz-uk.com/showthread.p...W2-for-the-RAF

  18. #218
    Matt, you need a blog.

    Be sure to use LOTS OF CAPS LOCK and exclamation marks. Because they make things more TRUE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Do not have a comments section so you can't be challenged.

    Do not answer questions, just tell them to READ YOUR BLOG.

    Make sure your sources can't be checked (private conversations).

    Jump to conclusions and contradict yourself.

    Work on the maxim that if you repeat something often enough it becomes THE TRUTH!!!!!

    Also, it will show up first on Google so no-one will look any further or question it: "chance you don't hit one of my article when you type in Hillary & Rolex is like zero ;)" (yes, that is what Philipp Stahl actually said to me)

  19. #219
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    Quote Originally Posted by M4tt View Post
    Yup. They didnít even make their first calculater until a year after the ascent. It wasnít portable. Their first quartz was twenty odd years later.

    You asked.


    But the fat bloke down the pub says so on his blog.

  20. #220
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    Quote Originally Posted by M4tt View Post
    While this looked like a victory for Rolex, they rapidly realised that the market was about to be flooded with cheap American fakes and abruptly changed their marketing strategy; Bader, their most successful advocate, was parachuted into Germany (under a cover story of being shot down) to set up a successful chain of Rolex concessions in prisoner of war camps. The rest, they say, is history.
    <snipped>

    Very, very good Matt.

  21. #221
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Curta View Post
    By '53 the Curta Type I was well established as the best quality portable mechanical calculator available. I heard from a mate of a bloke in Lichtenstein whose grandfather supplied the Swiss '52 team with 'measuring and calculating devices' that they left a Type I at Base Camp with a group of Sherpas so that they could work out if they were being diddled by those notoriously underhand Britishers. It's true, honest.
    I owe you an apology. In my absolute ignorance, I thought you were joking. You were not, they are very cool and I stand utterly corrected. They really are something I should have known about. And very, very cool.

  22. #222
    Master Mr Curta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by M4tt View Post
    I owe you an apology. In my absolute ignorance, I thought you were joking. You were not, they are very cool and I stand utterly corrected. They really are something I should have known about. And very, very cool.
    Well, I was partially joking! An early Curta could well have accompanied an expedition, it would certainly have been the calculator of choice, but there's absolutely no evidence.

  23. #223
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Curta View Post
    Well, I was partially joking! An early Curta could well have accompanied an expedition, it would certainly have been the calculator of choice, but there's absolutely no evidence.
    Ha! Since when was that an impediment?

  24. #224
    Curta Passion Report says that Tenzing had a golden one with him on the top of Everest:

    "Tenzing had GOLDEN Curta with him on the SUMMIT!!!! Engraved "With Regards From Mr Curta". A prototype that had to be returned to Lichtenstein and is now in a private collection that only I have seen!!!"

  25. #225
    Quote Originally Posted by Bannon View Post
    This historical detail has never been fully clarified even though Rolex has maximized on the accomplishment with its advertising of the 1016.

    Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay both made it to the top of Mt. Everest in 1953. Who was wearing what and which watch actually made it there first?
    Frankly my dear I don't give a damn

  26. #226
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    Quote Originally Posted by henk View Post
    Frankly my dear I don't give a damn
    Why are you replying to someone who was banned a year ago? Anyway, great thread guys, I really enjoyed it.

  27. #227
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    Quote Originally Posted by henk View Post
    Frankly my dear I don't give a damn
    In that case perhaps an explanation of why you chose to not give a damn quite so publicity might be interesting.
    Last edited by M4tt; 7th March 2019 at 01:09.

  28. #228
    Because it's a public forum
    Quote Originally Posted by M4tt View Post
    In that case perhaps an explanation of why you chose to not give a damn quite so publicity might be interesting.
    Sent from my SM-G950F using TZ-UK mobile app

  29. #229
    The thing with Stahl is that it's not just fanboy passion run wild but money, too. RPR has a marketplace and he is a dealer. So there's a clear interest in talking up Rolex, even to the point of mendacious hype.

    Me? I love Smiths AND Rolex: no bias, no preference, no personal gain.

    I'm also happy to be questioned and challenged and to change my mind as research moves on and new facts emerge; not so Stahl.

    As I've already said: "Imagine if academics and scientists and researchers did that: just pulled down the shutters and refused to admit any new facts or findings. But when you have a "passion" it's hard to be open-minded."

    Add the petrol of money to the already burning fire of passion and the cool, calm search for objective truth goes up with a whoosh. (In caps lock. With lots of exclamation marks.)

  30. #230
    Tell you what, though, on a more positive note I have really enjoyed finding out about Curtas. Who knew? (Well, Mr Curta for one. Of course.)

    The story has got it all: a poor Jewish inventor sent to a concentration camp, Nazis who promised him they let him live if his invention worked (yeah, right), unscrupulous businessmen (whose attempt to rip-off the Jew by the abuse of patent law backfires spectacularly) and this lovely little detail:

    "While only 3% of Curtas were returned to the factory for warranty repair, a small but significant number of buyers returned their Curtas in pieces, having attempted to disassemble them. Reassembling the machine was more difficult, requiring intimate knowledge of the orientation of, and installation order for, each part and sub-assembly, plus special guides designed to hold the pieces in place during assembly."

    Yep. Been there. Done that.

    I love the way look like a cross between a pepper mill, a hand-grenade and an enigma machine.

    So why not buy one? Be sure to check out my sales posts on https://curtapassionreport.com/

  31. #231
    Master Mr Curta's Avatar
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    Curtas are indeed beautifully designed and superbly engineered, with a fascinating human story behind them.

    ...and NEVER take one apart...


  32. #232
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    Quote Originally Posted by henk View Post
    Because it's a public forum

    Sent from my SM-G950F using TZ-UK mobile app
    More as to why you bothered. If I commented on all the things I don’t give a damn about I’d be a very busy man. Clearly you gave enough of a damn to share how little of a damn you gave. Checking your posting history I note you haven’t made a habit of not giving a damn elsewhere and that leaves me wondering why you felt the need to register your disinterest in this case...

  33. #233
    Grand Master magirus's Avatar
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    How very typical of this forum that I revisit this thread for further reading on a very interesting topic, and leave with an irrational desire to seek out and purchase a vintage mechanical calculator!

  34. #234
    Journeyman Dean Learner's Avatar
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    Smith's or Rolex - Which One Was the First Watch on Mt. Everest?

    Not sure Iíd call that irrational...(or perhaps Iím still in denial regarding my irrationality)

  35. #235
    Master Mr Curta's Avatar
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    My work here is done.

  36. #236
    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Curta View Post
    My work here is done.
    Mine isn't, quite.

    We have two watches in two museums that both claim to be the one worn (or "carried") by Hillary to the summit.

    Are they both the first watch to the top of Everest?

    It's possible. Photos exist of team members wearing two watches.

    However . . . .

    First, bear in mind that Hillary did actually say he wore a Smiths "to the summit" -- claim he never made for or about Rolex.

    Second, I'm also intrigued as to watch in the Beyer Museum: I've read that it came from Rolex (which I'd like verified) who said it belonged to Hillary (ditto). Maybe that's true but we know he had a Rolex on the 1952 expedition. Is this that one?

    A view of the back (any engravings?) plus shots of the serial number of the movement and the date code too would help a lot.

    I have contacted the Beyer museum with these questions. I'm genuinely open-minded (no "Smiths passion report" here) and I hope to get some answers.

    Until then we have have a watch that may (or may not) have belonged to Hillary; if it did he may (or may not) have worn it on Everest; if he did, he may (or may not) have worn during the 1953 Hunt climb; if he did, he may (or may not) have worn on the summit.

    We know he wore a Smiths at the top; whether he (and/or Norgay) also had a Rolex is not known.

    It's possible. I'd like to know.
    Last edited by Rev-O; 12th March 2019 at 22:31.

  37. #237
    OK, email sent:

    Dear Beyer Museum

    I am hoping you can help me in my research on the Rolex wristwatch(es) owned by Sir Edmund Hillary.

    Please can you you tell me more about this piece, in particular 1.) the movement serial number 2.) the date code inside the caseback and 3.) any markings or engravings that might link it with Hillary and/or Everest? Also, any details about its provenance. Is there any reason to believe it actually belonged to Hillary and, if so, it was actually worn during that historic climb?

    My reasons for asking is that both Smiths and Rolex issued watches to the 1953 Hunt expedition. The Clockmakers' Museum in London (now housed in the Science Museum) has a Smiths De Luxe wristwatch given by Sir Edmund himself during that climb. Furthermore he claimed to have worn a Smiths "to the summit" -- not something he ever said for or about Rolex. So far all the facts I've found point to it being a Smiths that was the first watch to the top.

    With that in mind I am keen to know more about this watch and find out the truth as to which watch(es) Hillary wore on the 1953 Expedition in general and to the summit in particular.

    Please find attached a letter from Mr Winter of Rolex that appeared in the BHI's Horological Journal (October 1953; p. 651) and a scan of the paperwork that came with a Smiths De Luxe purchased in February 1954.

    Many thanks

    Oliver


    ——
    Philipp Stahl says: "Sir E Hillary’s Rolex at Beyer Museum has 726.xxx serial, Gregory’s Rolex that got auctioned last year had also 726.xxx, only 2 numbers away from each other! [Note: both Hillary and Gregory were on the 1952 Cho Oyu Expedition]. But George Bands Rolex (He was NOT at ’52 Cho Oyu Expedition) has serial 916.xxx. Michael Phelps Ward [likewise not at the ’52 Cho Oyu Expedition] was also 916.xxx!”

    Source: http://rolexpassionreport.com/907/my...edition-quest/

    Philipp Stahl’s theory — and it’s a good one — is that the members of the 1952 Swiss Cho Oyu Expedition were issued with Rolexes; anyone from that team who was then also on the 1953 Hunt Expedition were not issued with a second watch. So the number of Rolexes issues to the 1953 Hunt Expedition is 7 (the full 13 members minus the 6 who were on the 1952 Swiss Cho Oyu Expedition and had already been issued with one then.)

    However, Evans *was* on the 1952 Swiss Cho Oyu Expedition and so shouldn't have got another Rolex with Hunt in '53. But his watch says "Dr R G Evans Everest 1953"

    Here:

    "Charles Evans Rolex is still in all original condition, his super historical Rolex was already in 1952 on the greatest mountain during the Swiss attempt with Lambert & Tenzing Cho Oyu 1952 ‘Research for Mt.Everest expedition’. Now look at it, isn’t it a beauty? Super fat case, brilliant radium patina, elegant markers, very readable luminous hands & blue second hand. The engraved historical important Rolex case back, “Everest 1953 – Dr. R.C. Evans” & the secret number “29”, Rolex Everest Prototype Code. So 1953 Evans Everest Rolex is No.29. Sir Edmund Hillary’s Everest Rolex in Zurich Beyer museum has the proto number 28!. So Evans No.29 almost made did it to the top already 26th, then Hillary made his step May 29th, same day of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II wearing his No.28 . I very much like second best, but with best possible No.29. Whaaaoooooo!! "

    Source: http://rolexpassionreport.com/10685/...charles-evans/

    So this "super historical Rolex was already in 1952 on the greatest mountain during the Swiss attempt" and yet the case back engraving says "Everest 1953" and the date code inside the back seems to be "I.53" (i.e. first quarter 1953). Looks a lot like this is a 1953 watch and therefore wasn't on the 1952 Cho Oyu Expedition.

    Stahl's own evidence blows his own theory out of the water. (Most people would have spotted that and adjusted one to fit the other -- ideally the theory to fit the evidence.)

    Still, this made me laugh:

    "Below we see Dr. Charles Evans pictured as a British Explorer Hero, May 26th 1953, 3 days prior H&T conquest, he had to cancel their attempt due to failing oxygen circuit, only 70 meters below the top of Mt. Everest. Clearly visible, his Rolex on ‘extra long leather strap’ " [emphasis mine]



    Clearly visible? Really?

    All that's "clearly visible" is a white faced silver cased watch on a brown leather strap. Could be a Rolex, could be a Smiths. I have both in front of me on my desk right now and it's impossible to tell which one is in that photo.

    And again:

    "As you can see, Dr. Evans was very proud to wear his Rolex. On almost all picture we see it clearly visible! "



    Words fail me.

    But show a photo with two equally blurry watches and then they are wearing a Rolex and a Schmutz.

    (See post #30 here: https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/vint...23059-s20.html )

    So in Stahl's mind if the Hunt Expedition team members are wearing a watch then it's a Rolex. On the rarer occasions when they are wearing two then he'll admit that the second one is a Smiths.

    This is not based on any evidence (in most pictures it's impossible to identify who's wearing what) and so lays bare Stahl's assumptions, his bias, his prejudice.
    Last edited by Rev-O; 8th March 2019 at 22:52.

  38. #238
    So here's Evans' watch



    And here's Gregory's



    Both men were on the 1952 Cho Oyu Expedition so according to Stahl neither should have got a watch that said "Everest 1953". So his theory is wrong and/or these were given after the successful trip in which case they have never actually been up Everest.

    I'd love to know more about the watch in the Beyer museum. At the moment all I see is a nice old OP bubbleback with a scrap of paper. Maybe I'm supposed to infer something from that but I'm tired of implications and associations and carefully-worded statements. I'd like to know some facts: provenance, serial number, date stamp and any engravings on the back. Until then it's just a watch.

  39. #239
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    Great thread, like a murder mystery, and a book you just can't put down.

  40. #240
    I'd forgotten that there's a photo of back of the "Hillary" watch in Beyer museum.

    Matt has already helpfully posted it earlier in this thread (post #184)



    source: https://www.hodinkee.com/articles/ta...hes-rene-beyer

    It seems Hillary sent this watch back to Rolex and then the Beyer museum acquired it.

    Well, OK, let's assume all of that is true.

    Compare the Evans and Gregory casebacks with this one.

    Were those "Everest 1953" watches given after the successful trip as mementos or were they the ones issued for (i.e. before) the expedition and used throughout it?

    Were watches issued for the 1952 and 1953 expeditions expected be returned (i.e. they were lent for testing) or retained (i.e. "free gifts")?

    If the former, then the members of the '52 Cho Oyu trip would have returned them and not still had them the following year.

    I'd really like to know the s/n and date code of the Beyer watch.

    Also, do we see any other watches with the same type of engraving (i.e. a single two digit number)?

    Stahl says that "The engraved historical important Rolex case back, “Everest 1953 – Dr. R.C. Evans” & the secret number “29”, Rolex Everest Prototype Code. So 1953 Evans Everest Rolex is No.29. Sir Edmund Hillary’s Everest Rolex in Zurich Beyer museum has the proto number 28!. So Evans No.29 almost made did it to the top already 26th, then Hillary made his step May 29th, same day of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II wearing his No.28 . I very much like second best, but with best possible No.29. Whaaaoooooo!! ;-) "

    But I can't see any "29" on Evans' watch, just “Everest 1953 Dr. R.C. Evans”

    Likewise I don't see “Everest 1953 E Hillary” on the Beyer watch, just "28"

    So it looks a lot like we have two batches of watches. One numbered and one marked with the team member's name and "Everest 1953"

    As well as being on the successful 1953 Hunt expedition we know that Evans, Gregory and Hillary were all on the 1952 Swiss expedition to Cho Oyu.

    But Hillary, unlike the other two, had also been on the 1951 Everest expedition led by Eric Shipton (source: http://www.everest1953.co.uk/1921-1953 )

    So Hillary was in the Himalayas for three successive years: 1951, '52 and '53.

    Was he issued with a Rolex on all three?

    Questions, questions.

  41. #241
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    Well, I can give a definite answer to one of them for a start.

    First, I want to note that it is increasingly clear that there's no particularly good reason to be wasting time rebutting the conclusions of this Stahl chap. There's no denying he's gathered some interesting evidence together, but his written evidence goes beyond suspect while his arguments are usually unsound. It's no surprise then that his conclusions are often both flat wrong and even contradictory - the idea of watches being returned to Rolex isn't consistent with the idea that people on the '52 expedition were not given watches as they already had them for example. More to the point, while it is clear that he has visited the RGS, that's no big deal - anyone is welcome, they have a small but extremely helpful staff and the resources are easily available to search. He's far from the only person to have done it. I certainly have. He seems unaware of the resources at Kew though.

    As such, he's just another of the many sources on the internet who appear to have an agenda which isn't merely working out what is true; they are perennially part of the problem.

    1951 was an odd year for Hillary. He started as part of a four man NZ Alpine club expedition to The Garhwal Mountains and ended it joining Shipton's '51 expedition just as the monsoon ended in the eighth of September 1951. By this time the whole expedition was three quarters of the way to Everest from Kathmandu. No one is claiming that Rolex gave them watches in '51 and there is no evidence that they did in 1951. We know for a fact that he wasn't wearing a Rolex, because there are pictures of him for that expedition that show him wearing a watch that, whatever it is, isn't a 35mm Rolex:



    My money is on some variation on a Taubert Decagon case, mostly because you can see the characteristic deep nut that served as a less than subtle caseback on this ubiquitous thirties waterproof case.

    Moving on, I'm pretty sure that the phone he's using is an iphone Seven XL in an Acme 'Dreadnought' waterproof case. His obsessive social media habit was a constant problem during expeditions...

  42. #242
    Craftsman
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    This has been a fascinating thread to read, including the references to a Mercedes Gleitze (I had always thought she wore an Oyster on her successful Channel swim). Despite the skulduggery of Rolex and the fanaticism of some of their fans, I canít bring myself to sell my Explorer in protest. But bring on the Smiths Passion Report, Rev-O!


    Sent from my iPad using TZ-UK mobile app

  43. #243
    Master bobbee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by M4tt View Post
    Well, I can give a definite answer to one of them for a start.

    First, I want to note that it is increasingly clear that there's no particularly good reason to be wasting time rebutting the conclusions of this Stahl chap. There's no denying he's gathered some interesting evidence together, but his written evidence goes beyond suspect while his arguments are usually unsound. It's no surprise then that his conclusions are often both flat wrong and even contradictory - the idea of watches being returned to Rolex isn't consistent with the idea that people on the '52 expedition were not given watches as they already had them for example. More to the point, while it is clear that he has visited the RGS, that's no big deal - anyone is welcome, they have a small but extremely helpful staff and the resources are easily available to search. He's far from the only person to have done it. I certainly have. He seems unaware of the resources at Kew though.

    As such, he's just another of the many sources on the internet who appear to have an agenda which isn't merely working out what is true; they are perennially part of the problem.

    1951 was an odd year for Hillary. He started as part of a four man NZ Alpine club expedition to The Garhwal Mountains and ended it joining Shipton's '51 expedition just as the monsoon ended in the eighth of September 1951. By this time the whole expedition was three quarters of the way to Everest from Kathmandu. No one is claiming that Rolex gave them watches in '51 and there is no evidence that they did in 1951. We know for a fact that he wasn't wearing a Rolex, because there are pictures of him for that expedition that show him wearing a watch that, whatever it is, isn't a 35mm Rolex:



    My money is on some variation on a Taubert Decagon case, mostly because you can see the characteristic deep nut that served as a less than subtle caseback on this ubiquitous thirties waterproof case.

    Moving on, I'm pretty sure that the phone he's using is an iphone Seven XL in an Acme 'Dreadnought' waterproof case. His obsessive social media habit was a constant problem during expeditions...

    For example?




  44. #244
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobbee View Post
    For example?



    Yup, exactly that sort of thing, but possibly a bit earlier, like so:



    The light and the caseback were at the wrong angle to catch the side of the nut facing the crown but it catches the light one below which makes the point about as well.

  45. #245
    Re the Gregory caseback

    Quote Originally Posted by M4tt View Post
    Allow me to draw your attention to the bottom left picture of the inside of the case back - as you will know, Rolex cases up to the early seventies had the year and quarter of manufacture stamped in the caseback. This clearly has I.53 stamped in the case back. That's the first quarter of 1953.

    So there is literally no way that this watch could have been issued in '52 as it simply didn't exist then. If, as is claimed (and I'm entirely unconvinced) the watch in the Bayer basement has a serial number only two apart from this one, let alone any credible connection with anything, then it seems entirely unlikely that it was made a year earlier.
    I'm rapidly losing the will to live but some good points made here:

    https://www.timekeeperforum.com/foru...watches.12277/

    "The caseback for Alfred Gregory's watch, although engraved with his name is not original to the watch (6098) The caseback is for a 6150. [However] if you look closely the 6150 number is obscurred by circles and the number 6098 is restamped lower down. This is typical of Rolex using different marked case backs for cases, it may well be original? It looks to me that the caseback was origninally meant for a 1st quarter 1953, rolex 6150 (position of orginal stamp is correct)???

    Just some of my observations....... If you zoom in and magnify the picture of the caseback, It looks like :
    (1) the "stamp" 6150 has a considerably deeper "marking" than the circling engraving and is consistent with the 1.53 stamp
    (2) there is a second lot markings which has also been circled out with the numbers 6350 ( another early explorer)
    (3) the third lot of markings is a shallower engraving/ stamp with 6098...............


    So it may be that this was originally meant for a 6150, then restamped for a 6350 or 6098, ultimately to be used as a 6098 with the previous two markings circled out with an engraving pen?"

    All credit to the original writers of these posts.

    I think I'm done here.

    Happy to give the last word to Philipp Stahl at Rolex Passion Report: "it will always remain a mystery if Rolex was literally on the summit."

  46. #246
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rev-O View Post
    Re the Gregory caseback



    I'm rapidly losing the will to live but some good points made here:

    https://www.timekeeperforum.com/foru...watches.12277/

    "The caseback for Alfred Gregory's watch, although engraved with his name is not original to the watch (6098) The caseback is for a 6150. [However] if you look closely the 6150 number is obscurred by circles and the number 6098 is restamped lower down. This is typical of Rolex using different marked case backs for cases, it may well be original? It looks to me that the caseback was origninally meant for a 1st quarter 1953, rolex 6150 (position of orginal stamp is correct)???

    Just some of my observations....... If you zoom in and magnify the picture of the caseback, It looks like :
    (1) the "stamp" 6150 has a considerably deeper "marking" than the circling engraving and is consistent with the 1.53 stamp
    (2) there is a second lot markings which has also been circled out with the numbers 6350 ( another early explorer)
    (3) the third lot of markings is a shallower engraving/ stamp with 6098...............


    So it may be that this was originally meant for a 6150, then restamped for a 6350 or 6098, ultimately to be used as a 6098 with the previous two markings circled out with an engraving pen?"

    All credit to the original writers of these posts.

    I think I'm done here.

    Happy to give the last word to Philipp Stahl at Rolex Passion Report: "it will always remain a mystery if Rolex was literally on the summit."

    Sure, but the point is that every Rolex of the period had the precise year and quarter stamped on it. That Rolex changed the designation of the case is largely irrelevant. Itís the same 35.5mm case housing the same movement but with minor dial variations. In fact, the 6150 is meant to be the first explorer, made to celebrate the ascent, so thatís another bit of Rolex BS uncovered as clearly the 6150 existed in Q1í53.

    For Stahlís conjecture, what would matter is if there was a redacted date. There isnít. Now, it is possible itís a Franken faked by Gregory (from whom ultimately the provenance comes) but if we are accepting that level of scepticism then pretty well anything goes.

  47. #247
    I keep promising myself I'm going to walk away from this thread but . . . .

    Just saw this and it made me smile. (I suspect this at least part of the beef between Smiths and Rolex that is referenced in Mr Winter's letter. Note that Rolex backed down in the face of Smiths' superior claim.)

    "Here is the Rolex ad that appeared in the London newspapers just two days after the conquest of Mt. Everest. If you look closely, you can see the Smiths ad appears on the reverse.



    Here is the Smiths ad, with the Rolex ad visible on the reverse:




    Source https://www.rolexforums.com/showthre...=135243&page=2

    Again, all credit to the original authors who posted this material
    Last edited by Rev-O; 11th March 2019 at 09:38.

  48. #248
    Oh, and one last thing (ha! who am I kidding?) is that Smiths made all of the cal. 400 "1215" movement completely in-house --- even the jewels

    Plates, springs, gears, pinions -- everything was made in Cheltenham. The aforementioned rubies were made at the Smiths plant in Carfin, Scotland long before Rolex adopted vertical integration.

    But who made the Rolex cal. A296?

    Smiths were a true manufacture when Rolex were a promiscuous mongrel (ooh, that's fightin' talk!)

    In fairness, the Smiths dials were (probably, according to my research) made by Burford -- although early ones are in-house and I'm not sure when they began outsourcing.

    And the "Aquatite" cases were made in Birmingham by Dennison (who also cased-up Rolex, Omega et al. due to import duty restrictions -- "whole" watches were subject to tax but uncased movements weren't, I believe.)

    Sorry, I'm going all "Smiths Passion Report" on you now.

    Enough already.

  49. #249
    Grand Master Dave+63's Avatar
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    Itís interesting that in both adverts, neither Rolex or Smiths actually stated that their watches reached the Summit.

  50. #250
    Grand Master Griswold's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave+63 View Post
    Itís interesting that in both adverts, neither Rolex or Smiths actually stated that their watches reached the Summit.
    The Rolex ad does, bottom right corner under the picture. Doesn't claim to be first though.

    This has been the most interesting and thought provoking thread for a very long time. Thanks guys.
    Best Regards - Peter
    Please Note: It is possible that Griswold may know nothing whatsoever about horology. It's even possible that he has never even owned a watch. It is also highly possible the he has a strange imagination. His wife insists he would be far better off paying more attention to taking his medication on time.

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