• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7652

    Exploration and Travel

    25 September 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 126

    Michael Phelps Ward, CBE, MD, FRCS (1925-2005)

    A Smiths gold wristwatch worn by Michael Ward on the British Mount Everest Expedition, 1953

    Price Realised  

    Michael Phelps Ward, CBE, MD, FRCS (1925-2005)
    A Smiths gold wristwatch worn by Michael Ward on the British Mount Everest Expedition, 1953
    Smiths. A 9ct. gold wristwatch, circa 1953, cream dial with applied arabic numerals, subsidiary seconds signed Smiths De Luxe, 15-jewel movement, in circular case with snap on back, engraved 'PRESENTED TO DR. M.P. WARD IN COMMEMORATION OF THE FIRST ASCENT OF MOUNT EVEREST 1953' on the case
    diameter 28mm.
    in the original box as issued with guarantee and Smith's promotional leaflet 'On Top of the World! Smiths de luxe watches were officially selected by the British Everest Expedition'


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    Smiths Clocks Ltd. are listed in the firms who assisted the 1953 expedition (J. Hunt, The Ascent of Everest, London 1953, p. 284), credited with supplying 'alarm clocks, watches'. Rolex Watch Co. Ltd. also supplied watches to the expedition (see lot 128). The value of expedition endorsements to commercial advertising was huge and whether it was Rolex or Smiths who had bagged the summit became as hotly argued as, and inextricably linked with, the debate over whether Hillary or Tenzing reached the top first -- Tenzing having worn a Rolex Explorer and Hillary a Smiths Everest.

    Ward's dual role on the 1953 expedition as both climber and medical officer compromised any hopes of reaching the summit. 'Hunt had made it quite clear that Ward had been chosen as a doctor first and climber second, and that the proper place for the expedition's doctor when the final assault on the summit was under way was no higher than advanced base camp. Even so, Ward proved a valuable member of the climbing team, reaching Camp VII half way up the Lhotse face where he helped George Lowe prospect the route to the South Col.' (The Times, Obituary, October 2005)

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Provenance

    Michael Phelps Ward, CBE, MD, FRCS, 'Presented by the Chairman and Director of Smiths English Clocks Ltd. to Dr. M.P. Ward. as a memento of the ascent of Mount Everest, May 29th 1953.' (presentation card accompanying the watch).


    Saleroom Notice

    The description should read: 'A Smiths gold wristwatch, presented to Michael Ward by the manufacturers in commemoration of the British Mount Everest Expedition, 1953'.
    The hallmarks inside the case read Edinburgh, May 1952-May 1953.