At one other occasion a journalist sought to “troll” Sir Edmund Hillary by asking him to touch upon hypothesis that George Mallory had in truth summited Everest in 1924 earlier than dying on the descent. To which Hillary responded, in sometimes laconic trend, that he’d had a rattling good run as conqueror of Everest and could be fairly completely happy to let another person take over.
George Band continued to play an lively function within the worldwide mountaineering group and with Himalayan organizations for the remainder of his life, writing a number of books and being awarded the OBE in 2009 in recognition of his companies to mountaineering.
His achievements are too many to enumerate right here, however embrace his participation on the profitable 1953 Everest expedition and what was his crowning glory, the 1955 conquest of the “Final Nice Mountain,” Kangchenjunga, along with Mancunian builder Joe Brown.
As is properly documented, Rolex had been equipping mountaineering expeditions with watches for some years, and the Everest crew carried 13 Oyster Perpetual licensed chronometers with them in whole, six offered for the 1952 Cho Oyu expedition and 7 for the brand new members of the 1953 crew. George Band’s Oyster Perpetual Reference 6098 was one of many latter.
This model of the Oyster Perpetual options the domed “bubble-back” case, required to permit room for the automated winding rotor mounted on what was initially a handbook motion. It was not till the slimmer 1030 motion was launched, designed from scratch as a self-winding motion, that the Oyster Perpetual and the Explorer boasted flat case backs.
The again of this specific watch is engraved “EVEREST 1953” and “G.C. BAND,” with a fainter engraving of the Rolex crown and “H6” indicating that it was quantity six of the second batch of watches offered to the expedition crew by Rolex.
George Band’s different Rolex: 1953 Rolex Oyster Precision with “Explorer dial”
Kangchenjunga was as soon as believed to be the very best mountain on the earth and deemed unclimbable. Even after it was decided that K2 and Everest have been larger, it remained probably the most daunting of the three for mountaineers and remains to be honored by the native inhabitants because the holiest of mountains.
Kangchenjunga and its satellite tv for pc peaks kind an enormous mountain massif of 5 peaks that straddle the border between India and Nepal.
Excessive climate circumstances and excessive avalanche danger as a result of its proximity to the Bay of Bengal made it what Everest chief Sir John Hunt referred to as “probably the most troublesome feat in mountaineering.”
Constructing on a route carved out almost 50 years earlier by satan worshipper and (reasonably incongruously) enthusiastic mountaineer Aleister Crowley, aka “the wickedest man in Britain,” George Band and Joe Brown summited Kangchenjunga on Could 26, 1955, normally reported as “stopping simply in need of the height out of deference to native non secular beliefs.”
The expedition had been deliberate as a reconnaissance journey with a view to summiting in 1956, and the crew had solely obtained permission from the Chogyal of Sikkim to discover Kangchenjunga on the final second on the understanding that they might go nowhere close to the highest.
For this expedition Rolex had given George Band a black-dial Oyster Perpetual Precision Reference 6150 with the now-familiar 3-6-9 dial and Mercedes fingers.
The success of the Kangchenjunga expedition and the truth that the primary Explorer fashions had syringe fingers for the primary 18 months (to not point out the truth that neither Hillary nor Tenzing have been carrying Rolex watches on the height of Everest, as has now been confirmed) certainly makes it the true non secular ancestor of the Rolex Explorer reasonably than the Oyster Perpetuals utilized by the Everest crew. This watch was bought at a Phillips public sale by the Band household in 2017.
George Band handed away in 2011 on the age of 82, having taken half in a Kangchenjunga reunion expedition within the Himalayas on the tender age of 76 and reconquering the Breithorn with the Alpine Membership aged 78.
His Oyster Perpetual now belongs to Nigel, who wears it sometimes, nonetheless on the Fixoflex bracelet that his father most popular for each of his mountaineering watches.
Nigel absolutely understands the significance of holding the Oyster Perpetual in completely unique situation – simply as his Sea-Dweller, which remains to be a working device watch, has been maintained in working situation for the aim for which he purchased it.
Nigel remembers that his father wore each the Oyster Perpetual and the Precision repeatedly all through his childhood, with a desire for the black-dial Precision as a result of its higher legibility.
They have been solely retired from lively service when any person offered him with a newfangled digital timepiece with a built-in altimeter. This proves that you would be able to convey the mountaineer down from the mountain, however you’ll be able to’t take the mountain away from the mountaineer.
I requested Nigel whether or not his father’s love of mountaineering had rubbed off on him in any means. “Probably not, I’ve completed some hillwalking within the UK however past that I simply don’t have a head for heights – I’d a lot reasonably be underwater!”
It could be a coincidence, however it’s curious that of their completely totally different chosen fields, each father and son ended up carrying respiration equipment and Rolex watches.
* This text was first printed on November 25, 2020 at Professional Diver Nigel Band And The Unusual Rolex Sea-Dweller And Oyster Perpetual Models That Plumbed The Depths And Scaled The Heights.