Sir Edmund Hillary's 1953 ascent up Mt. Everest was a daunting trek, no doubt. Throughout the perilous journey, Hillary, and renowned sherpa Tenzing Norgay, used Rolex's newly-conceived Explorer for more than just telling time. This watch was their lifeline on an arduous climb up the world's highest peak.
Phillip Stahl, Peter Hillary, and Jamling Tenzing Norgay launched the Rolex "Hillary-Tenzing Edition" watch set. This horological tribute to Everest and its first successful climbers is limited to 88 numbered crates. Yes, I said crates. Inspired by the crates in which the climbers stored their equipment, these fairly large "watch boxes" each house three variants of the modern Explorer. Additionally, original documents, photographs of the expedition, and various accessories, including handmade shell cordovan straps, three Oyster bracelets, and strap-changing tools, are included in the package.
Of the three watches, the first is a contemporary, 36-millimeter Explorer with "Explorer" printed on the dial in red font. The second, is a 39-millimeter version of the aforementioned 36-millimeter Explorer. The third, is a 42-millimeter Explorer II with cream hour plots and an orange GMT hand. That last watch is most similar, aesthetically, to the iconic Explorer II reference 1655.
As a collector and dealer of vintage Rolex, I absolutely love the concept of these customized re-edition watches. They are so freaking cool! Unfortunately, the entire set sold out quite a while ago. Don't get too disappointed because, to acquire one of these sets, it would've set you back a good $33,000. Trust me, your money is better spent on a handful of vintage 6150s, 6350s, 1016s, 6610s, and 1655s. Nonetheless, for someone who already has everything, this would be a great addition to the collection.
Interestingly enough--number 88/88 fetched $105,000 at Christie's Geneva. This special lot was comprised of one modern Explorer, one 1655, and Norgay's personal yellow gold Datejust. The proceeds were graciously donated to the Hillary-Tenzing Foundation.
For further information, please visit www.hillarytenzingedition.com.