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

  1. #351
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    No one knows anything for sure and it is impossible to conclusively prove or disprove anything.

    I have an 39mm Rolex Explorer and would like to think it was the first watch etc but at the end of the day it is all conjecture and it is a bit pointless trying to prove or disprove something that is impossible to prove or disprove in the first place.

    Even as a Rolex fanboi I have to say that I really could not give a damn my dear.

  2. #352
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    I think that Rev-O has shown pretty conclusively that a Smiths was worn on the summit and Rolex was not.

    FWIW

  3. #353
    Quote Originally Posted by Mick P View Post
    No one knows anything for sure and it is impossible to conclusively prove or disprove anything.

    I have an 39mm Rolex Explorer and would like to think it was the first watch etc but at the end of the day it is all conjecture and it is a bit pointless trying to prove or disprove something that is impossible to prove or disprove in the first place.

    Even as a Rolex fanboi I have to say that I really could not give a damn my dear.
    I think M4tt and Rev-O have done some stellar work here and while I would have agreed with you a few months ago, the evidence is in favor of Smiths- almost conclusive.

  4. #354
    Quote Originally Posted by alfat33 View Post
    I think that Rev-O has shown pretty conclusively that a Smiths was worn on the summit and Rolex was not.

    FWIW
    Ha! Our comments crossed!

  5. #355
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    Quote Originally Posted by RAJEN View Post
    Ha! Our comments crossed!


    Now we just need to recall whether Hillary was wearing or carrying his watch.

  6. #356
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    Quote Originally Posted by alfat33 View Post


    Now we just need to recall whether Hillary was wearing or carrying his watch.
    But which watch?

    Probably a Smiths from what I have read.

  7. #357
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    No one can 100% prove anything, so it is all subjective.

    I would agree that on the balance of probablities it was the Smiths but we cannot be sure.

  8. #358
    Master Mr Curta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alfat33 View Post


    Now we just need to recall whether Hillary was wearing or carrying his watch.
    It was interesting to see the references to watches being carried in the travellers' narratives during Peter Burt's recent presentation at the Royal Geographical Society. Those generally referred to pocket chronometers but indicate that it was common parlance for explorers referring to watches during Hillary's formative years.

  9. #359
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Curta View Post
    It was interesting to see the references to watches being carried in the travellers' narratives during Peter Burt's recent presentation at the Royal Geographical Society. Those generally referred to pocket chronometers but indicate that it was common parlance for explorers referring to watches during Hillary's formative years.
    Another reason why I wish I’d been there!

    In some languages ‘wear’ and ‘carry’ are even the same word.

    For anyone wondering why this is relevant, it refers to some speculation earlier in the thread.

  10. #360
    Quote Originally Posted by Mick P View Post
    No one knows anything for sure and it is impossible to conclusively prove or disprove anything.
    Have you read all of this thread? Lots of people know lots of things from lots of sources. While it may be "impossible to conclusively prove or disprove anything" (when is it not?) there is a body of evidence leading to a balance of probability.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mick P View Post
    I have an 39mm Rolex Explorer and would like to think it was the first watch etc
    Good of you to declare your interest

    Quote Originally Posted by Mick P View Post
    but at the end of the day it is all conjecture and it is a bit pointless trying to prove or disprove something that is impossible to prove or disprove in the first place.
    Yes, you've already made that point and I have responded to it.


    Quote Originally Posted by Mick P View Post
    Even as a Rolex fanboi I have to say that I really could not give a damn my dear.
    Oh I think you could. ;-)

  11. #361
    Quote Originally Posted by Montello View Post
    There is an article in the latest QP magazine on this...

    They state that Hillary wore a Rolex ...
    They don't get any advertising revenue from Smiths. . . .

    Follow the money
    Last edited by Rev-O; 15th November 2019 at 20:08.

  12. #362
    Well that's been a genuinely fascinating and long read

  13. #363
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rev-O View Post
    Have you read all of this thread? Lots of people know lots of things from lots of sources. While it may be "impossible to conclusively prove or disprove anything" (when is it not?) there is a body of evidence leading to a balance of probability



    Oh I think you could. ;-)
    I honestly do not give a damn. I knew about the Rolex / Smith squabble when I bought the Explorer and I just think of it as pointless waffle. Both watches made it to the top and who really gives a monkeys whether what watch was on a wrist or in a pocket.

    The only proven conclusion is that it is all guesswork.

  14. #364
    Quote Originally Posted by Mick P View Post
    Both watches made it to the top.
    Not according to Rolex.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mick P View Post
    The only proven conclusion is that it is all guesswork.
    Have you actually read this thread?

  15. #365
    Master Mr Curta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rev-O View Post
    Have you actually read this thread?
    Doesn't need to, knows everything.

  16. #366
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rev-O View Post
    They don't get any advertising revenue from Smiths. . . .

    Follow the money
    I only mentioned it in the context that they are presenting it as fact.

    On my reading this thread is far better researched.

    My take is that Rolex must be unsure otherwise they’d have exploited the issue much more vigorously.

  17. #367
    To be fair to QP, Rolex do like to give the impression that they were there that day. So people infer it.

    Mind you they also claim to have invented the waterproof wristwatch, the automatic movement, the GMT hand etc

    Thankfully someone has edited their Wikipedia page, correcting the claims to various “firsts”

    Heck, for most of their existence (including in 1953) Rolex were really only retailers, buying in and badging up other makers’ movements and cases. At least Smiths was an in-house manufacture.

  18. #368
    Quote Originally Posted by Montello View Post
    I only mentioned it in the context that they are presenting it as fact.

    On my reading this thread is far better researched.

    My take is that Rolex must be unsure otherwise they’d have exploited the issue much more vigorously.

    Just out of interest do you know which page of the current edition it's on? That will save me buying the whole issue! I'll just have a flick through at W H SMITHS (sic, ha ha)

    Then I will email them with a scan of the The BHI Letters.

    It need to be challenged and corrected. History is written by the winners.

  19. #369
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    Don't know if this has been posted here, two reels of downloadable movie about the 53 conquest with lots of wrist shots.

    https://archive.org/details/theconqu...erestreel2.mov

    This link has plenty of books about the expedition to borrow if you join for free.

    https://archive.org/search.php?query...everest&page=3

  20. #370
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    I've read the entire thread. It took the best part of three hours, and I fell asleep twice.

    Fascinating stuff, and I'm really grateful for the work done and the contributions made by the key players (you know who you are).

    But I can't help but feel that your work is somewhat wasted in this format. Very few people will bother to read the entire thread. Lots of people will skim it, and thus potentially miss some of your very well researched arguments, and I think this is shown by some of the contributions of people who've arrived late to the party, and weighed in having clearly missed a trick or two.

    Could you not get your heads together, and come up with something in a format which is more palatable and accessible than a repetitive adversarial forum thread, which would do a better job of getting your arguments "out there". Like a series of articles? Maybe even a book?

  21. #371
    Quote Originally Posted by Pagan View Post
    Could you not get your heads together, and come up with something in a format which is more palatable and accessible than a repetitive adversarial forum thread, which would do a better job of getting your arguments "out there". Like a series of articles? Maybe even a book?
    +1 to this. I've been subscribed to this thread for ages and keep meaning to slog through it all, but just don't have that much time. Especially with so much distracting chatter to filter out. Would be really good if someone could even highlight the key posts and link to them directly, as a kind of thread summary.

  22. #372
    Quote Originally Posted by Pagan View Post
    I've read the entire thread. It took the best part of three hours, and I fell asleep twice.

    Fascinating stuff, and I'm really grateful for the work done and the contributions made by the key players (you know who you are).

    But I can't help but feel that your work is somewhat wasted in this format. Very few people will bother to read the entire thread. Lots of people will skim it, and thus potentially miss some of your very well researched arguments, and I think this is shown by some of the contributions of people who've arrived late to the party, and weighed in having clearly missed a trick or two.

    Could you not get your heads together, and come up with something in a format which is more palatable and accessible than a repetitive adversarial forum thread, which would do a better job of getting your arguments "out there". Like a series of articles? Maybe even a book?
    Thanks, that is Philippe Stahl's point: his website stand there, unchallenged and unchallengeable: seemingly authoritative and correct. He knows it's not but as you you can't post comments or questions it is -- or he has -- the last word.

    I'd be up for a similar website, with the contributions and contributors here visible to all. Maybe Smiths could host it? They are still very much in business, just not making mechanical clocks or (any) wristwatches. (Mostly digital / electronic stuff in avionics iirc.)

  23. #373
    Quote Originally Posted by Rev-O View Post
    I'd be up for a similar website, with the contributions and contributors here visible to all. Maybe Smiths could host it? They are still very much in business, just not making mechanical clocks or (any) wristwatches. (Mostly digital / electronic stuff in avionics iirc.)
    Surely Eddie would be a logical choice as the current owner of the Smiths trademark for watches? Since Smiths are out of that business, I can't imagine they care much.

    What about a blog entry on here to get things started, then see about getting the content mirrored somewhere more "official"? There certainly wouldn't be an issue with having no ability to comment if it references this thread. Comments don't necessarily need to appear on the page itself as long as they are not deliberately hidden away. In fact embedding them in the page gives an illusion of greater importance for the top handful of comments, while the rest are often buried.

    Ultimately though what's needed is a single page that collates together all the evidence, established facts and opinions and clearly demonstrates what conclusions can and cannot be drawn. I would suggest wikipedia so anyone can edit, but they reject articles that contain original research or only reference primary sources. Another wiki site might be appropriate but without the strong moderation of a huge site like wikipedia, it would be very open to corporate tampering.

    It seems that vBulletin has a wiki add-on, which Eddie could potentially get added here. That might make a nice extra feature to the forum that could have a lot of other uses beyond just this one case. I'm thinking about other reference information on obscure historical topics, technical watchmaking subjects, etc., that you wouldn't easily find anywhere else. If it required a TZUK login then that would stop the issue of anonymous edits & defacement.

    I suspect however that any TZUK wiki would need a set or rules, like a minimum of 5 posts, 21 days membership and you must not have posted in the BP in the past 48 hours!

  24. #374
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    For what it's worth I rewrote my contribution here, with a fair bit more research to really tighten up just how clearly Rolex had been caught out, and reposted it here:

    https://www.intlwatchleague.com/show...-Everest/page2

    where it got collected up with some other 'Everest watch' stuff I'd written.
    Last edited by M4tt; 17th November 2019 at 21:55.

  25. #375
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mick P View Post
    I honestly do not give a damn. I knew about the Rolex / Smith squabble when I bought the Explorer and I just think of it as pointless waffle. Both watches made it to the top and who really gives a monkeys whether what watch was on a wrist or in a pocket.

    The only proven conclusion is that it is all guesswork.
    They absolutely didn't. The closest that Rolex got within a decade of 1953 was about 100m below in '53 and 250m below in 1952. Even the Chinese had got a Tianjin to the summit by the time Rolex finally made it.

  26. #376
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    It really is impressive how good a job Rolex's marketing has done of associating itself with the feat.

    Even people who are aware of the Smiths connection seem to regard Rolex as the main player, and Smiths as a bit of an also ran.

    I'll admit, before I read this thread, that was probably my assumption too.

    Having read it, it's really hard to reach any conclusion other than that there is an awful lot of evidence to indicate a Smiths made it to the top, and nothing credible at all to indicate a Rolex did (and potentially quite a lot to indicate it didnt).

    I don't think that really tells us much by the way. It certainly isn't to suggest that Rolex don't make absolutely excellent watches, which were more than capable at the time. It's just that's not how it played out.

  27. #377
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pagan View Post
    It really is impressive how good a job Rolex's marketing has done of associating itself with the feat.

    Even people who are aware of the Smiths connection seem to regard Rolex as the main player, and Smiths as a bit of an also ran.

    I'll admit, before I read this thread, that was probably my assumption too.

    Having read it, it's really hard to reach any conclusion other than that there is an awful lot of evidence to indicate a Smiths made it to the top, and nothing credible at all to indicate a Rolex did (and potentially quite a lot to indicate it didnt).

    I don't think that really tells us much by the way. It certainly isn't to suggest that Rolex don't make absolutely excellent watches, which were more than capable at the time. It's just that's not how it played out.
    I'm personally absolutely convinced that George Mallory easily made it to the summit in '24, which puts a Borgel on the summit.

  28. #378
    Quote Originally Posted by M4tt View Post
    For what it's worth I rewrote my contribution here, with a fair bit more research to really tighten up just how clearly Rolex had been caught out, and reposted it here:

    https://www.intlwatchleague.com/show...-Everest/page2
    That's, that's a really thorough write-up and cogent argument.

  29. #379
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    Quote Originally Posted by M4tt View Post
    For what it's worth I rewrote my contribution here, with a fair bit more research to really tighten up just how clearly Rolex had been caught out, and reposted it here:

    https://www.intlwatchleague.com/show...-Everest/page2

    where it got collected up with some other 'Everest watch' stuff I'd written.
    Fantastic bit of research there.

  30. #380
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    Quote Originally Posted by robt View Post
    Surely Eddie would be a logical choice as the current owner of the Smiths trademark for watches? Since Smiths are out of that business, I can't imagine they care much.

    What about a blog entry on here to get things started, then see about getting the content mirrored somewhere more "official"? There certainly wouldn't be an issue with having no ability to comment if it references this thread. Comments don't necessarily need to appear on the page itself as long as they are not deliberately hidden away. In fact embedding them in the page gives an illusion of greater importance for the top handful of comments, while the rest are often buried.

    Ultimately though what's needed is a single page that collates together all the evidence, established facts and opinions and clearly demonstrates what conclusions can and cannot be drawn. I would suggest wikipedia so anyone can edit, but they reject articles that contain original research or only reference primary sources. Another wiki site might be appropriate but without the strong moderation of a huge site like wikipedia, it would be very open to corporate tampering.

    It seems that vBulletin has a wiki add-on, which Eddie could potentially get added here. That might make a nice extra feature to the forum that could have a lot of other uses beyond just this one case. I'm thinking about other reference information on obscure historical topics, technical watchmaking subjects, etc., that you wouldn't easily find anywhere else. If it required a TZUK login then that would stop the issue of anonymous edits & defacement.

    I suspect however that any TZUK wiki would need a set or rules, like a minimum of 5 posts, 21 days membership and you must not have posted in the BP in the past 48 hours!
    I'm always astonished at how much influence threads like this can actually have in changing what is 'common knowledge' (or the price of a class of watch on ebay!) and I reckon, having been banging away on this door for a decade or more on various forums, that this is getting pretty close to tipping point. If it does tip, then I think Broussard is the man to credit with digging up the smoking gun that proves that, as I concluded, by way of a TL-DR, elsewhere:

    Therefore, it is clear that neither Tenzing, nor Hillary nor Rolex believed there ever was a Rolex on the summit of Everest in 1953. No one is better placed to be sure about that.

  31. #381
    Quote Originally Posted by M4tt View Post
    For what it's worth I rewrote my contribution here, with a fair bit more research to really tighten up just how clearly Rolex had been caught out, and reposted it here:

    https://www.intlwatchleague.com/show...-Everest/page2

    where it got collected up with some other 'Everest watch' stuff I'd written.
    Nice one Matt, that really pulls it all together. Could you copy the whole post and put it on here as well (maybe as its own thread?)

    And thanks for crediting Broussard -- he deserves it.

  32. #382
    Grand Master Carlton-Browne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by M4tt View Post
    For what it's worth I rewrote my contribution here, with a fair bit more research to really tighten up just how clearly Rolex had been caught out, and reposted it here:

    https://www.intlwatchleague.com/show...-Everest/page2

    where it got collected up with some other 'Everest watch' stuff I'd written.
    For the sake of completeness I think there's a couple of typos in there that need to be corrected.

    1. There's a reference to Mallory and 1954 which I assume should read 1924
    2. I think you've confused the time difference between Nepal and UK.
    Die Zeit verwandelt uns nicht, sie entfaltet uns nur.

  33. #383
    Quote Originally Posted by M4tt View Post
    For what it's worth I rewrote my contribution here, with a fair bit more research to really tighten up just how clearly Rolex had been caught out, and reposted it here:

    https://www.intlwatchleague.com/show...-Everest/page2

    where it got collected up with some other 'Everest watch' stuff I'd written.
    For the amount of effort gone into it, I would hope that:
    A. You post it somewhere more accessible like WUS
    and
    B. Make a separate thread here, bypassing all the arguments

  34. #384
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carlton-Browne View Post
    For the sake of completeness I think there's a couple of typos in there that need to be corrected.

    1. There's a reference to Mallory and 1954 which I assume should read 1924
    2. I think you've confused the time difference between Nepal and UK.
    I know, the problem is that I tend to write then proofread, as I already had a thread in the library, it was booted across before I'd made corrections and it wasn't worth bothering a mod about. There's a couple of other minor typos too.

    Mind you, when you explain my TZ error, I bet you get it wrong too!
    Last edited by M4tt; 18th November 2019 at 20:14.

  35. #385
    Quote Originally Posted by M4tt View Post
    I know, the problem is that I tend to write then proofread, as I already had a thread in the library, it was booted across before I'd made corrections and it wasn't worth bothering a mod about. There's a couple of other minor typos too.
    How about a corrected repost on here then?!

    :-)

  36. #386
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rev-O View Post
    How about a corrected repost on here then?!

    :-)
    After what happened last time, would you?

  37. #387
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    Quote Originally Posted by RAJEN View Post
    For the amount of effort gone into it, I would hope that:
    A. You post it somewhere more accessible like WUS
    and
    B. Make a separate thread here, bypassing all the arguments
    I don’t post on WUS any more. I’ve almost given up on forums as it is. Here and IWL sporadically is about it.

  38. #388
    Master Mr Curta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by M4tt View Post
    After what happened last time, would you?
    I think you should do it, in its own thread. Your research is fantastic and maybe someone can knock up an abridged version for numpties like me.

  39. #389
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    There you go. Have fun.

    I'll say it again, I think Mallory made it in '24 and my research for that is a damned sight more detailed.
    Last edited by M4tt; 18th November 2019 at 22:35.

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