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Thread: Smiths were the only watches worn on the summit of Everest in '53. The proof.

  1. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mick P View Post
    Yes Matts thesis is well written and well presented but it is unwise to say it is conclusive until someone else who disputes the findings submitts a similar submission and that could be a long time away.

    My own view is that this topic is too out of date to be sensibly discussed. There will be claim and counter claim on both sides. This is like trying to prove that Richard 111 was responsible for ordering the death of the two Prices in the Tower of London.

    Sometimes you just have to accept the fact that there are somethings can will never be truly answered.
    The central fact that the whole thing is designed to frame and throw into sharp relief is that, shortly after the event, a representative of Smiths asserted that Smiths were the sole watch on the summit of Everest in 1953 and a representative of Rolex conceded that this was the case. Both representatives had access to all the information they needed to be sure and if their statements are not an example of a historical fact then nothing is.

    Sometimes we do have to accept that things can’t be known, but this isn’t one of them.

    If you look at Norgay’s wrist and see a gold Datejust then you really should have gone to specsavers. If you see two watches on Hillary’s wrist in the seconds before the final climb, or at any other time, then you’ll need to point it out because in literally hundreds of hours of looking at pictures, including literally every one held at the Royal Geographical Society collection, I’ve never seen it.

    All the evidence in the case of Richard III is circumstantial. If we had written reports from, say, John Argentine accusing Richard of the murder and a written confession from Richard conceding he did murder them, all backed by pictures of the preparations and aftermath of the murder then we’d have an equivalent situation.

  2. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pagan View Post
    Is it publicly accessible?
    Yes, although I think that a personal visit is required to examine the documents.

    https://find.library.duke.edu/?utf8=...mpany%22+rolex

    In the 80s and 90s a lot of effort went into establishing the archive and I believe it has been very well maintained since. I remember Roy Glah from my time there.

    A long shot of course, but who knows?

  3. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by alfat33 View Post
    Yes, although I think that a personal visit is required to examine the documents.

    https://find.library.duke.edu/?utf8=...mpany%22+rolex

    In the 80s and 90s a lot of effort went into establishing the archive and I believe it has been very well maintained since. I remember Roy Glah from my time there.

    A long shot of course, but who knows?

    The box to access is Box 22 of 'Client files 1948-1986' and the specific files to access are 'Rolex--Print advertising, 1948-1981 and undated'. I suspect that this will be two files of nothing but press cuttings. However, if there's any background to the advertising it would be fascinating. However, I note that JWT have not ceded copyright control and so any arguments supported by those sources would need to be very carefully written.

  4. #54
    Quote Originally Posted by Mick P View Post
    Yes Matts thesis is well written and well presented but it is unwise to say it is conclusive until someone else who disputes the findings submitts a similar submission and that could be a long time away.

    My own view is that this topic is too out of date to be sensibly discussed. There will be claim and counter claim on both sides. This is like trying to prove that Richard 111 was responsible for ordering the death of the two Prices in the Tower of London.

    Sometimes you just have to accept the fact that there are somethings can will never be truly answered.
    Sigh.

    This whole thread (i.e. the OP) is a compressed, edited, and improved version of an earlier thread that got rather rambling and disjointed. Matt has pulled all the salient points together, refined and corrected and succinct.

    You contributed (I use the word loosely) to that first thread.

    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.
    And

    Quote Originally Posted by Mick P View Post
    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.
    And

    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.
    So, let's have a look at your comments:

    "My own view is that this topic is too out of date to be sensibly discussed. There will be claim and counter claim on both sides. This is like trying to prove that Richard 111 was responsible for ordering the death of the two Princes in the Tower of London."

    Matt and others have provided primary sources, documents from the archives and artefacts.

    "Sometimes you just have to accept the fact that there are somethings can will never be truly answered."

    You just have to accept the fact that there are somethings which can be answered beyond reasonable doubt. That means proof. So what proof do we have? Well, Rolex wrote a letter to the BHI. As evidence goes it's the equivalence of a signed confession. What more do you want? DNA? There's also Hillary's watch in the Clockmakers' Museum and the suspiciously evasive and non-committal words used by Rolex ever since: if they had "been there, done that" they would have made of it what Omega have made of the moon. We'd never have heard the bloody end of it.

    In the earlier thread you said: "Even as a Rolex fanboi I have to say that I really could not give a damn my dear."

    Yet here you are, back again. You know, I think you could could give damn. Or you certainly do a very good impression of someone who does.

    "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."

    100% sure? Who is 100% sure of anything? I cannot be sure (in an absolute sense) of anything. In fact, that sort of certainty is probably only hypothetical. The law uses the phrase 'beyond reasonable doubt' and I think Matt et al. have demonstrated that to my satisfaction. Maybe not yours, but then a self-confessed Rolex fanboy is hardly an unbiased juror.

    But this remains my favourite:

    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.
    1.) You clearly do give a damn -- you keep coming back for more

    2.) Both watches did not make it to the top -- Rolex said so; if you're a fanboy, you should believe them

    3.). It is most certainly not all guesswork -- documents, darling: facts and evidence and documents

    Looking forward to hearing from you

  5. #55
    Grand Master Neil.C's Avatar
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    Hi Matt,

    Just want to congratulate you on your conclusions and all the work involved.

    I loved reading it.

    Neil.
    Cheers,
    Neil.

    My Speedmaster website:

    http://www.freewebs.com/neil271052

  6. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil.C View Post
    Hi Matt,

    Just want to congratulate you on your conclusions and all the work involved.

    I loved reading it.

    Neil.
    Thanks Neil, I'm always delighted when you enjoy something I write.

  7. #57
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    What an absolutely fantastic write up.

    I’ve never really taken much notice of anything about the watches to make it to the top. As an ex, and very small scale, climber, it’s always been about the physical achievement. However, the research, effort, dedication and plain old detective work, shown in pulling this piece together is very impressive. It’s had me enthralled for a little while this evening, instead of that old nonsense on the telly box. If for no other reason, I’d like to thank everyone who has contributed and especially M4tt for documenting it so well.

    Who’d have thought this watch collecting lark could be so fascinating?


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  8. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by M4tt View Post
    The box to access is Box 22 of 'Client files 1948-1986' and the specific files to access are 'Rolex--Print advertising, 1948-1981 and undated'. I suspect that this will be two files of nothing but press cuttings. However, if there's any background to the advertising it would be fascinating. However, I note that JWT have not ceded copyright control and so any arguments supported by those sources would need to be very carefully written.
    Matt, there is no way of knowing of course without looking in the boxes. At the very least there should be some agency proofs of the print ads. It’s quite possible there will be some creative briefs and brand guidelines, maybe even some client correspondence. I remember seeing these kinds of files and archives for other brands at JWT and I recognise some of the material in other boxes from the ‘90s.

    The brand guidelines would be interesting as they came from the client. They would include any required messaging and any legal/regulatory boundaries.

    I’ll see if I can find out any more.

  9. #59
    Grand Master number2's Avatar
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    A thoroughly enjoyable read, many thanks for taking the time putting it all together.

    "Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it's enemy action."

  10. #60
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    Great read, thanks for taking the time

  11. #61
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    Smiths were the only watches worn on the summit of Everest in '53. The proof.

    Excellent post, thanks for taking the time, imho this should (eventually) go in the ‘Classic Posts’ subforum..


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  12. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rev-O View Post
    Sigh.

    This whole thread (i.e. the OP) is a compressed, edited, and improved version of an earlier thread that got rather rambling and disjointed. Matt has pulled all the salient points together, refined and corrected and succinct.

    You contributed (I use the word loosely) to that first thread.

    So, let's have a look at your comments:

    "My own view is that this topic is too out of date to be sensibly discussed. There will be claim and counter claim on both sides. This is like trying to prove that Richard 111 was responsible for ordering the death of the two Princes in the Tower of London."

    Matt and others have provided primary sources, documents from the archives and artefacts.

    "Sometimes you just have to accept the fact that there are somethings can will never be truly answered."

    You just have to accept the fact that there are somethings which can be answered beyond reasonable doubt. That means proof. So what proof do we have? Well, Rolex wrote a letter to the BHI. As evidence goes it's the equivalence of a signed confession. What more do you want? DNA? There's also Hillary's watch in the Clockmakers' Museum and the suspiciously evasive and non-committal words used by Rolex ever since: if they had "been there, done that" they would have made of it what Omega have made of the moon. We'd never have heard the bloody end of it.

    In the earlier thread you said: "Even as a Rolex fanboi I have to say that I really could not give a damn my dear."

    Yet here you are, back again. You know, I think you could could give damn. Or you certainly do a very good impression of someone who does.

    "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."

    100% sure? Who is 100% sure of anything? I cannot be sure (in an absolute sense) of anything. In fact, that sort of certainty is probably only hypothetical. The law uses the phrase 'beyond reasonable doubt' and I think Matt et al. have demonstrated that to my satisfaction. Maybe not yours, but then a self-confessed Rolex fanboy is hardly an unbiased juror.

    But this remains my favourite:



    1.) You clearly do give a damn -- you keep coming back for more

    2.) Both watches did not make it to the top -- Rolex said so; if you're a fanboy, you should believe them

    3.). It is most certainly not all guesswork -- documents, darling: facts and evidence and documents

    Looking forward to hearing from you
    Dear Rev

    Yes I honestly do not give a damn, I have made my point, so no more to say.

    However my final comment is that despite whatever happened or did not happen over sixty years ago, I would still buy a Rolex over a Smiths anyday of the week.

  13. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mick P View Post
    Dear Rev

    Yes I honestly do not give a damn, I have made my point, so no more to say.

    However my final comment is that despite whatever happened or did not happen over sixty years ago, I would still buy a Rolex over a Smiths anyday of the week.
    Great thread which I won't mess up by responding to Mick.
    Last edited by number2; 20th November 2019 at 10:16.
    "Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it's enemy action."

  14. #64
    Quote Originally Posted by Mick P View Post
    Dear Rev

    Yes I honestly do not give a damn, I have made my point, so no more to say.

    However my final comment is that despite whatever happened or did not happen over sixty years ago, I would still buy a Rolex over a Smiths anyday of the week.
    Mick, with due respect please let this thread remain about the evidence for Smiths being first on Everest. That was the reason to create a separate post. Let us keep bickering on the original thread.

  15. #65
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mick P View Post

    This is like trying to prove that Richard 111 was responsible for ordering the death of the two Prices in the Tower of London.

    ...
    Katie? Alan?

  16. #66
    Quite probably one of the finest bits of writing on the forum. An absolute reading pleasure and one which has real research credibility. What a joy after the increase in bickering on threads.


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  17. #67
    Quote Originally Posted by Mick P View Post
    Dear Rev

    Yes I honestly do not give a damn, I have made my point, so no more to say.

    However my final comment is that despite whatever happened or did not happen over sixty years ago, I would still buy a Rolex over a Smiths anyday of the week.
    I do give a damn. It's horological history. I'm interested in watches and I'm interested in facts and this combines both. (And that, after all, is what this forum at its best is all about. There are uncritical Rolex fanboy forums where you can droll over pics and show off your watches and generally demonstrate your undying love of the brand; maybe you'd be better off on one of those?)

    If you want an English wristwatch and can't afford a George Daniels, Roger Smith or Frodshams then a Smiths is the next best thing: all handmade in the Cotswolds. You can buy one for less than it costs to have a Rolex serviced by a competent independent.

    I'd be happy to advise you should you wish to get one. Maybe start with a nice cal. 60466E 1960s Astral or a Dennison-cased 1950s De Luxe? Wearable, accurate, good-looking: really charming watches. Lovely pieces from a long-lost England that still work as well as the day they left Cheltenham, 50 or 60 years ago. Little time capsules that also tell the time. The wristwatch equivalent of a vintage British car or motorbike.

    I think I'll wear one today.

    Thanks!

    The Rev

  18. #68
    Hi Matt

    Could I share your post (or could you?) on the Smiths forum?

    It’s here:

    https://www.mwrforum.net/forums/foru...Vintage-Smiths

    I’ll make a Sticky so it stay at the top of the page

    Thanks

  19. #69
    Thanks for all your hard work Matt, loved reading that, especially as I’m wearing a smiths Deluxe A404 today !

  20. #70
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    A very interesting read . Thank you for posting .

  21. #71
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    Been on my wrist all week.




  22. #72
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    M4tt thank you for all your work on this,
    these are exactly the kind threads that make this forum entertaining.

    Now that we have a much clearer picture of the Everest story is it time to address the "first waterproof" watch story???
    Last edited by animalone; 20th November 2019 at 18:24.

  23. #73
    Ten Smiths

    Top Two, left to right: WW2 "Mk X" -- "Hillary" pattern c.1951 -- A409 c.1952 -- A404 c.1953 -- A453 c.1954

    Bottom Row, left to right: Aircraft Cockpit style layout (prototype, 1950s?) -- GS De Luxe (6B RAF issued) 1956 -- 6B (W10) 1967 -- "Everest" c.1964 -- Astral c.1970




  24. #74
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mick P View Post
    I have made my point, so no more to say.

    However my final comment is
    Hahahahaha

  25. #75
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    Quote Originally Posted by M4tt View Post
    The almost certain location of Irving’s body is an open secret. The problem is that the approach taken to Mallory’s remains was unfortunate and make fundraising and permissions problematic. The remains are off the current beaten track and a sensible expedition would not be cheap.

    However, I think that there are rock solid grounds for assuming they made it well before the pressure drop with both oxygen to spare and the capacity to descend safely without oxygen. There’s also a painfully simple and impeccably documented reason that they stayed on the summit far too long and consequently didn’t survive the descent. I have the whole thing planned, but I need a decent holiday to finish my research and write it up. I’ll do it as a Boxing Day treat...
    I look forward to reading that! It's a fascinating subject.

  26. #76
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rev-O View Post
    Ten Smiths

    Top Two, left to right: WW2 "Mk X" -- "Hillary" pattern c.1951 -- A409 c.1952 -- A404 c.1953 -- A453 c.1954

    Bottom Row, left to right: Aircraft Cockpit style layout (prototype, 1950s?) -- GS De Luxe (6B RAF issued) 1956 -- 6B (W10) 1967 -- "Everest" c.1964 -- Astral c.1970




    Utter shite, you should throw them in my bin forthwith!

  27. #77
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    Quote Originally Posted by animalone View Post
    M4tt thank you for all your work on this,
    these are exactly the kind threads that make this forum entertaining.

    Now thar we have a much clearer picture of the Everest story is it time to address the "first waterproof" watch story???
    YES! And then the first automa...Oh,... ahem...

  28. #78
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    I just want to add that this was and is a brilliant write up, and anyone not convinced is just struggling to get over their bias. Until someone can disprove what is described here, it is correct. Fantastic job, it really is.

  29. #79
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    On an extremely quiet wednesday at work this was a fantastic piece to read during my lunch, thanks a bunch for a very informative and enjoyable post.
    Got a new watch, divers watch it is, had to drown the bastard to get it!

  30. #80
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    I'll jump out of my usual lurker state to thank the author of this post. Excellent read. Very enjoyable and informative. Thanks for taking the time to write it and sharing it.

  31. #81
    In the OP Matt says: "It's very clear that getting a Rolex to the top of Everest first is extremely important to Rolex"

    Indeed, remember that Rolex were -- and are -- loudly proud of the fact that a Rolex was the first watch to fly over Everest:

    FLYING OVER EVEREST
    1933
    The first expedition to fly over Everest was equipped with Rolex Oysters. The members of the crew were highly satisfied with the performance of the watches.


    From: https://www.rolex.com/about-rolex-wa...1926-1945.html

    And in the 1930s Rolex even had watches branded "Everest" on the dial.

    So when Matt says "[Rolex had] been waiting decades [...] and then had that success whipped from under them by a whisker" it must have really hurt!

    Well, tant pis.

    And good for Smiths! Who doesn't love the plucky underdog?

    Finally, the letter from Rolex. "We congratulate Smiths on the fact that their Smiths De Luxe ordinary wind wrist watch reached the summit with Sir Edmund Hillary." He wasn’t bitter! Oh no, not bitter at all!

    As I said in the other post, 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? (Answer: Aegler)

    Smiths were a true manufacture when Rolex were a promiscuous mongrel, buying in all the components and simply retailing everything as "Rolex". They were a branding exercise, not watchmakers.

    Granted, now it is the other way round (Smiths as a Time Factors mircobrand vs Rolex as an in-house mass producer of nearly a million watches a year). But not back then.

    Viva Smiths!

    edit: read this (link) in the light of Matt's article. See how carefully worded it is! No explicit claim but, to my mind, a lot of implying. Pics of H&T and this: "In 1953, with the experience gained from the ascent of Everest, as well as other testimony provided by climbers, the brand launched the Explorer watch in honour of the first-ever successful ascent of Everest." Mmm.

    https://www.rolex.org/environment/a-...-for-adventure
    Last edited by Rev-O; 20th November 2019 at 17:09.

  32. #82
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    Wonderful informative read.
    Cheers
    Joe


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  33. #83
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    A great read and very informative.

    Thanks for taking the time and effort to research this and post so succinctly.

  34. #84
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    Great stuff Matt. I don't really see how the dispute can now continue. Hoobloodyrah!

  35. #85
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    This should be a sticky. Superb work by Matt et al, and the kind of thing that demonstrates the benefit of being here.

  36. #86
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    Quote Originally Posted by M4tt View Post
    ....There’s also a painfully simple and impeccably documented reason that they stayed on the summit far too long and consequently didn’t survive the descent. I have the whole thing planned, but I need a decent holiday to finish my research and write it up. I’ll do it as a Boxing Day treat...
    Will really look forward to that! This whole article was brilliant! Well, I haven't finished reading it yet but I will tomorrow. Thanks so much for your time and efforts on putting this out there.

  37. #87
    That’s been quite a read!
    Great research- world class I’d suggest.

  38. #88
    Quote Originally Posted by TURGUT View Post
    .

    You are rıght too sır
    Cant explaın what ı thought about the case what ı want to say majorıty of the people dont know smıths brand and everest watch
    And rolex has very bıg name every where
    And watch forums or some magazınes not enough
    to change people mınds
    Beside the point, but how come your “i”s arent dotted?


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  39. #89
    Quote Originally Posted by bnootens View Post
    Excellent post, thanks for taking the time, imho this should (eventually) go in the ‘Classic Posts’ subforum..


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    I'll second that. Great work Matt.

  40. #90
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    Great read, the letter from Rolex’s GB Director seems pretty clear


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  41. #91
    Quote Originally Posted by AdmiralNilsson View Post
    Beside the point, but how come your “i”s arent dotted?


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    My bet is a Turkish keyboard.

  42. #92
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    Quote Originally Posted by TURGUT View Post
    .

    You are rıght too sır
    Cant explaın what ı thought about the case what ı want to say majorıty of the people dont know smıths brand and everest watch
    And rolex has very bıg name every where
    And watch forums or some magazınes not enough
    to change people mınds
    Günaydın ;)

  43. #93
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    I have today been able to properly read this, and it was informative and enjoyable - thank you!

  44. #94
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    Excellent detective work Matt, thoroughly comprehensive and conclusive, making for an interesting and informative read. Thanks for taking the considerable time it must have taken to research and produce this, and I have to say it was well worth the effort. Its given me the desire to put on my humble 8 jewel Smiths Empire which I haven't worn for a while.

    I agree with others, this is important and should be a sticky.
    Best Regards - Peter

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  45. #95
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    Splendid, M4tt, thank you.

  46. #96
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    Quote Originally Posted by ColDaspin View Post
    My bet is a Turkish keyboard.
    No just lazy fingers

  47. #97
    I think this might be my favourite post / thread ever on tz-uk.

    So much so, I've even bothered to engage with the troll just because the entire subject fascinates me and it amused me to have such good ammo and such a clear shot. Easy fun but sometimes that's OK.

    I'm hoping Jake engages with this ("Tenzing Norgay & Sir Edmund Hillary Conquer Mount Everest With Rolex Watches On Their Wrist" from here: https://www.rolexmagazine.com/2008/1...d-hillary.html)

    And Philipp Stahl, too ("The real deal, Everest ’53 Evans' Rolex next to wannabes [Smiths]" here: https://rolexpassionreport.com/10685...charles-evans/ )



    Stahl has repeatedly referred to Smiths as Schmutz (German for "dirt") See post #30 here https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/vint...23059-s20.html

    Will they update their blogs? (Answer: almost certainly not.)
    Last edited by Rev-O; 21st November 2019 at 15:06.

  48. #98
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rev-O View Post
    I think this might be my favourite post / thread ever on tz-uk.

    So much so, I've even bothered to engage with the troll just because the entire subject fascinates me and it amused me to have such good ammo and such a clear shot. Easy fun but sometimes that's OK.

    I'm hoping Jake engages with this ("Tenzing Norgay & Sir Edmund Hillary Conquer Mount Everest With Rolex Watches On Their Wrist" from here: https://www.rolexmagazine.com/2008/1...d-hillary.html)

    And Philipp Stahl, too ("The real deal, Everest ’53 Evans' Rolex next to wannabes [Smiths]" here: https://rolexpassionreport.com/10685...charles-evans/ )



    Stahl has repeatedly referred to Smiths as Schmutz (German for "dirt") See post #30 here https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/vint...23059-s20.html

    Will they update their blogs? (Answer: almost certainly not.)
    I'd be happy for them to join the discussion...

  49. #99
    Quote Originally Posted by M4tt View Post
    I'd be happy for them to join the discussion...
    When fanboys meet facts, the facts are ignored or changed to fit the thesis.

    Well, it's one way of doing things I suppose. Depends whether truth (i.e logic and evidence) mean more to you than a cult that you're heavily invested in -- emotionally, intellectually and financially.

    I hope I'm always open to revise my opinions, no matter how long-help, deeply-believed or passionately cherished.

    Because, you know, sometimes New Facts Emerge

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_f2Kr4k-aAs
    Last edited by Rev-O; 21st November 2019 at 23:08.

  50. #100
    Journeyman Dean Learner's Avatar
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    Just another vote of thanks to M4tt for the time and effort spent in putting this together. Thoroughly enjoyed the top posts and the original thread.

    Based on the original thread I searched for and gifted a vintage smiths to my father for his 70th. As a kiwi and a climber he had a lot of interest in the topic of Everest. It was interesting that he stated he always just assumed it was a Rolex that Hillary had worn. He has since read the original thread and the next time I saw him he simply stated “you bought the right watch”

    So thanks again for the efforts, and for saving me a small fortune as stretching for a vintage Rolex for his birthday would have been a big ask!


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