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1953 Smiths/J W Benson Tropical, the Everest watch


In 1953, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay summited Everest, finally overcoming the highest peak in the world, which had cost many previous expeditions much blood and treasure.

Smiths watches, who were once one of the largest watch manufacturers in the world, supplied timepieces to the expedition, including one Hillary wore on the summit ( pictured) possibly in addition to his trusty Rolex.

The watch Hillary carried was not a production variant, and its dial design did not feature on any of the subsequent 'Everest' range of Smiths watches. However, Smiths did use the exact layout, with its distinctive minute track and small subdial, on a watch produced for J W Benson, the 'Tropical'.

Therefore, this is about as close as you can get to the watch Hillary wore (unless you rob the Science Museum in London, where his watch is displayed).

This example is in excpetional original condition, with the chromed Dennison Aquatite case having survived surprisingly well. The 16 jewel movement is finished in frosted gilt and features a jewel on the centre wheel, only found on Smith's higher quality movements. These movements supplied to Dennison aslo had a higher quality balance assemly than standard Smiths watches. The service history is unkonwn, but it is very clean and keeping excellent time.

Further information on Smiths watches can be found on this great site:

Smiths watches

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