In 1953, the not-yet-Sir Edmund Hillary became the first man to summit Mount Everest along with expedition partner Tenzing Norgay. And he did so with a Rolex on his wrist, an Oyster Perpetual that would prove to be the ancestor of the Explorer. While browsing the Beyer Watch and Clock Museum in Zürich, I suddenly found myself face-to-face with this legendary watch and knew I had to share it with all of you.
This watch was produced in 1950 and was never purchased commercially. Rolex was one of the sponsors of the 1953 Everest Expedition – only one expedition was allowed each year by the Nepalese government – and part of this sponsorship included providing Hillary with this watch. It was not a gift, but rather a watch for Hillary to wear during the expedition and then to return to Rolex for extensive testing after the descent. And that is exactly what happened.