Important Modern and Vintage Timepieces.

Geneva, Nov 13, 2010

LOT 621

The Property of The Family Of Alfred Gregory Rolex, Ref. 6098 ? The Highly Important and Historic Pre-Explorer Wristwatch of Alfred Gregory ? Issued by Rolex for the 1953 Mount Everest Expedition ? Reaching 8500 Meters, 350 Meters from The Summit. Rolex ?Oyster Perpetual, Precision? case No. 726182, Ref. 6098. Made in the first quarter of 1953. Fine and historically important, tonneau-shaped, water-resistant, center seconds, self-winding, stainless steel wristwatch with honeycomb dial, engraved caseback ?A. Gregory ? Everest 1953? and a stainless steel Rolex buckle. Accompanied by the Ice Axe used during the Everest expedition, 5 original photos taken by Alfred Gregory during the climb ? 3 showing various members of the expedition wearing a Rolex, a Rolex Geneva service letter, and a letter of authenticity from Alfred Gregory's wife.

CHF 20,000 - 40,000

USD 20,000 - 40,000 / EUR 15,000 - 30,000

Sold: CHF 145,300

C. Two-body, solid, polished and brushed, inclined bezel, screw-down case back with inscription ?Everest 1953 Alfred Gregory?, screw-down winding crown. D. Matte silver honeycomb with recessed engraved faceted baton and dart indexes, luminous dots, outer 1/5th seconds divisions. Luminous steel dauphine hands. M. Cal. 775, rhodium-plated, 18 jewels, straight-line lever escapement, Superbalance, self-compensating Breguet balance spring, index regulator. Dial, case and movement signed. Diam. 35.5 mm. Thickness 14 mm.

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Grading System
Case: 3


Movement: 2*

Very good

Overhaul recommended, at buyer's expense

Dial: 3-10-55-01-05



Luminous material reapplied

HANDS Original

HANDS Luminous material reapplied


Property of the Original Owner's Family Alfred Gregory (known as Greg) Born on February 12, 1913 in Liverpool, he was attracted at an early age to mountaineering, enthusiastically discovering the mountains of England and Scotland. During World War II, he served with the Scottish Royal Highland Regiment (The Black Watch) serving in North Africa and Italy. Due to his strong climbing background he was chosen to join the British-led training expedition of 1952 to Cho-Oyu (the Swiss had already booked Everest that year to attempt to get to the Summit). In 1953 he was chosen as the official photographer to document the John Hunt / Edmund Hillary expedition to climb Everest. A keen amateur photographer already, he quickly became accustomed to shooting in the difficult mountain conditions (considering there was no built-in exposure meters and difficult high altitude light). As he later himself said: ?I went to Everest an amateur and came back a pro?. On the last stretch of the climb, Greg was part of the support team with Ang Nyima and Lowe that accompanied Hillary and Tenzing up to the last camp at 8500 meters. It is there that Greg took one of the most famous pictures in mountaineering history showing Edmund Hillary and Tenzing at the last base camp before attempting the climb to the summit. That very same picture was even used by Rolex themselves as part of the new explorer campaign (see pictured). Alfred Gregory went on to have a very succesful career developing both a travel company specialising in mountain climbs in Nepal and taking photos as a freelancer. He moved to Australia in 1993 and passed away in February 2010.
This watch is of exceptional historic interest because it is one of those issued by Rolex to the team members of the 1953 Everest expedition and was taken to the final camp at 8500 meters from which Hillary and Tenzing set off on their final push to the summit. Therefore Alfred Gregory?s watch is the Rolex which in 1953 reached the second highest point on Everest, after that of Edmund Hillary (Beyer Museum, Zurich). It represents a unique and perhaps final opportunity to acquire a Rolex watch from this legendary group.
The Rolex 6098 and the Everest Expedition Produced from around 1950 to about 1955, the reference 6098 is known to collectors as the pre-Explorer. Developed first as a precision model and later as an officially certified chronometer, it was available in 18K gold and more rarely in steel with either a plain metal or honeycomb dial. Rolex thought that the British-led expedition to Everest was perfect to test the durability and endurance of their watches and their success during the climb led to the model being called the Explorer. According to our research, only the climbing members were assigned a watch (none of the Sherpas were equipped with one) and we can assume that only about a dozen of references 6098 were given. As often at the beginning of a reference production, Rolex was unsure which reference number to give the watch, so inside the caseback the references 6150 and 6350 are both scratched out, leaving only the reference 6098 intact. Much controversy erupted after the climb regarding the various claims of attaining the summit (it was for many years unclear who got to the summit first, Tenzing and Sir Edmund remaining enigmatic on the subject, eventually Tenzing made a statement that it was in fact Sir Edmund) but also the claim from the British company Smiths who advertised that Hillary carried their watch to the summit. Research indicates that Tenzing wore a Rolex bubbleback during his ascent to the summit (various accounts claim it was given to him either by his uncle or by the Swiss mountaineer Raymond Lambert during their failed Everest attempt in 1952) and Hillary wore a reference 6098 (Beyer Museum, Zurich), that interestingly enough is only a few case numbers apart from the present watch. Serviced by Rolex Geneva in late 2000, it is a unique opportunity to acquire this historical timepiece that climbed Everest with the man that recorded this life-changing event and took some of the best known pictures ever.