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Everest expedition Rolex watch sets auction record at Lockdales

A Rolex watch worn during the historic first ascent of Mount Everest has sold for a record sum at auction in Suffolk.
The Rolex Oyster Perpetual Explorer wristwatch was designed to work at extremely high altitudes for the 1953 British Mount Everest expedition, led by Colonel John Hunt.

It was the ninth mountaineering expedition to attempt the first ascent of Mount Everest, and the first to succeed, with Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reaching the summit on Friday, May 29, 1953.

The watch was initially listed by auction house Lockdale’s with an estimate of just £800-£900, and without mention of its important history – but it seems that experts quickly realized they had something special on their hands.

Bidding on the watch then started at £5,000, and a number of competing bidders soon pushed it to a final total of £27,140 (including buyer’s premium).

"This watch is truly ultra-rare. It is one of a rare batch that were designed to work perfectly at altitude," auction manager James Sadler told the East Anglian Daily Times.

"Rolex brought a very limited number out ahead of the epic climb by the party which saw Sir Edmund Hillary reach the summit with Tenzing Norgay.

"The 11 bidders are all dedicated specialists in their field. Many of them have told us that the previous high for an explorer watch like this was £17,000. So we are so proud of the staggering figure achieved on our premises."

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