Smiths rare 'Everest' expedition model with waterproof case, circa 1956.
2-piece chromed case with screw-on back with what could be an important dedication: Presented by W.T.E to W H G Murphy in RECOGNITION of SELFLESS ACTION, DEC 5th, 1957. Smiths classic 12.15 gilt non-shockproof movement with 'Permalife' unbreakable mainspring, as first designed by Rene Lenoir and his team (not Jaeger) at Cheltenham around 1945. Double-roller detached lever escapement with polished steel escape, the monometallic balance with beryllium balance-spring. Matt silvered dial with upright radium filled numerals and matching radium hands. 33 mm diameter, not including button or lugs. Together with rare and unusual Smiths original De Luxe clamshell box.
This is Smiths A.404 model, advertised as an 'Everest' waterproof watch in their 1955 catalogue, page 74. Spurred by the boost to sales created by a similar watch being worn by Sir Edmund Hillary on the ascent of Everest in 1953, Smiths sponsored a series of expeditions, supplying wristwatches, for which this was the model provided. It was shown in various adverts of the period relating to expeditions, one of which was the Lyngen Artic Winter Survey of 1954-55 for which Smiths supplied four examples of this model.
NB: I have not been able to verify the selfless action of Mr W T E Murphy but the Lewisham Train crash occurred on the evening of December 4th and it may be the action of the owner that is being commemorated here. 90 people were killed and over 100 were hospitalised, the line not reopening until December 12th.
Case and dial showing some of the age related signs of wear that is common with this model, which were often worn in the most adverse of conditions, but better than most that survive and all original, including the button. The wear does however provide an honourable indication of the part played by English watches in some of the most interesting events of the 1950's, from Everest onwards. On a contemporary stainless-steel strap that is still perfectly functional, and certainly part of this watches history, but that can easily be swopped for a 16 mm wide leather strap if/when wanted. Winding and ticking well, but not cleaned by me and priced accordingly.
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