English timepieces reach top of Everest

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Loomes & Co watches are on top of the world today after a team of serving Royal Ghurka soldiers reached the summit of Everest wearing timepieces from the British watchmaker.

At 14.08, Nepalese time on Monday, May 15, the team of Ghurkas summited Mount Everest wearing Loomes’ entirely English-made watches.

The 2017 expedition by a team of 15 mountaineers came after an unsuccessful attempt in 2015, when the group was forced to leave the mountain after the Nepal earthquake caused avalanches on Everest that killed 22 people.

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The team survived the disaster because they were above it on the mountain, and became part of the rescue effort as they descended.

The Royal Gurkha regiment soldiers were the first to summit Everest since the disaster because the 2015 season was cancelled, and nobody attempted the climb in 2016.

Robina Hill, managing director of Loomes & Co said: “This is an incredible achievement. To summit Mount Everest requires planning, timing and a degree of luck. These guys are heroes. We are delighted they agreed to wear our watches again. Our English watches are on top of the world.”

The company says it is the first time an entirely English-made watch has been up Everest since 1953, when Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay summited Everest carrying Smiths watches.

The Ghurka team has been planning a return to Everest since May 2016 to complete ‘unfinished business’. In late March this year, Major Dick Gale, and the Ghurka 200 team, left the UK with  Loomes & Co watches amongst their equipment, arriving at Everest base camp in mid April – with a goal to put the first serving Ghurka team on the top of Everest.

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Robert Loomes, the technical director at Loomes & Co said: “This is a groundbreaking day for both us and the Royal Ghurka Regiment. The Ghurka’s have put their first serving soldiers on the summit of Everest. They have taken our watches to the top of the world.  We are delighted they decided to use our watches. Major Gale came to our workshops in early March to collect them after we had modified them slightly to take into consideration the cold and the altitude.”

The Loomes watches used movements from original Smiths timepieces, but modified them for the extremes of altitude and temperature that Everest demands. A key change, according to Mr Loomes, was the use of a much lighter oil that would not boil or freeze in temperatures that plunged to -27 degrees centigrade. “Interestingly, this light oil actually improved the accuracy of the watch, but it is not practical in normal watchmaking because it would last less than a year,” he described.

When the team returns to Britain, one of the watches will be auctioned to raise money for the Gurkha Welfare Trust and The Mountain Trust.

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