Smiths Military Watch 1949-1951. Birth of the Hillary Watch.
Several purchases recently have led me to believe that between 1949-1951 Smiths processed a military order for Sir Douglas Gracey of the Division of the Pakistan Army which was to become the birth of the ‘Everest Range’ watches and connect my earlier prototype to Hillary’s own expedition watch, an adapted Smiths Military watch.
Around 500 British officers volunteered to train Pakistani forces in the early 1950s and I believe they were supplied with an order of Smiths watches for the British Division of the Pakistan Army.
Dating from 1949/1950, this is an early Everest Range watch that doesn’t readily appear in the catalogues. From one of my earlier posts we know that Smiths used this face design to adapt their WW2 watches but did they also fulfil an order for the British Army?
As you can see…this watch has a military marking for the ‘division of the Pakistan Army’. I am particularly blessed with this watch as the owner inscribed his service number on the case. It turns out it belonged to Captain James Carnie-Hogg, something of a war hero and one of only a handful of officers to be decorated with 2 military bars in WW2. His later military career did indeed take him to Pakistan where I believe he received this watch as an officer.
Finding out the service records of Captain Hogg has helped me to piece together the movements of this watch and my investigations are ongoing. I’ve seen the ‘DPA’ markings on other watches but never Smiths. At that point in time I pondered it may be a one off.
Then I discovered this! A very exciting find as a slightly later model (1950/51) but with the transitional logo identical to the ‘Hillary’ watch used in the ascent of Mping Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary. Now we know that this transitional logo was only used for a very brief amount of time around the point when Hillary’s own watch was made. So I started restoration work on this watch.
Identical to the Hillary original EXCEPT for the lack of any lume. I then took a look to confirm the date of manufacture and indeed it was 1950/1951.
Then when I started exploring the rear case…I found something truly exciting.
It’s another ‘DPA’ military watch. Exactly the same spec as the first except for the ‘Deluxe’ logo. This leads me to two very exciting conclusions:
Around 1949-1951 Smiths adapted their WW2 stock not with a view to civilian use but with a view to creating a prototype for an order for the British army…hence the Everest Range was born NOT as an expedition watch…but as a military watch.
Hillary‘s own watch wasn’t a ‘personal choice’ but rather a Smiths ‘Pakistan Army’ watch adapted with lume and antifreeze oil for the conditions on Mt Everest.
I will be keeping my eyes open for more example of these watches but the above does make an overwhelming case for the lineage from the ‘prototype‘ Smiths in my earlier blog to the ‘Hillary’ watch via an order for the British Army in Pakistan around 1949-1952.