A British-made timepiece involved in one of the most dramatic and tragic events in the history of Everest mountaineering is being auctioned by its maker, Loomes, for charity.
The hand-made Loomes Everest Ghurka Welfare Trust watch was worn by one of a team of Gurkha soldiers who summited Mount Everest in May 2017.
It is the same team that two years earlier was caught on Everest as a devastating earthquake in Nepal, which killed around 9,000 people, caused an avalanche that devastated a base camp on the side of the mountain.
The Ghurka team heroically assisted other climbers off the mountain after the 2015 quake and to safety before using their remaining time to do vital relief work after the earthquake, effectively working alongside The Gurkha Welfare Trust, whom they had hoped to raise money for with this unique watch.
Back in England the team regrouped and in 2017 nearly the exact same group of Gurkha soldiers left for a second attempt. They made sure to take the Loomes GWT wristwatch.
As they had planned, the G200E arrived fit, early in the season and well prepared. So much so that the Nepali Sherpas took them along to do the vital route preparation they do every season. Led by their experienced climbing leader, Capt Dick Gale, the team became the first to summit that season.
It was the British Army’s most successful Everest mission, with thirteen serving Gurkhas making it to the top and all returning safely. This unique watch was worn by Sgt Milan Rai (pictured top with sufficient lung capacity left to play the bagpipes at the top of Everest).
“The Gurkha soldiers have an extraordinary calm and determination which you don’t find in any other British Army regiment,” said Robina Hill of Loomes. “Their modesty afterwards astounded me, simply saying it was good for the watch, because it would raise money for the GWT.”
The achievements of the Gurkha team, and the donation of the watch to raise money for its Welfare Trust even caught the attention of David Cameron, who was prime minister in 2015 when the Nepal earthquake took place.
“I wanted to add my support to this excellent endeavour to put a British watch on Everest and to support the work of the Gurkha Welfare Trust,” Mr Cameron said.
Bonhams will host the auction that sells the watch (www.loomeswatches.com/auction)
The timepiece can also be seen ahead of the auction at next month’s WatchPro Awards, which take place in London on November 6.