Watch your step... Sir Edmund Hilary's wristwatch sale is blocked

Recently, it was announced that the fine timepieces of the first man to reach the summit of Mount Everest, Sir Edmund Hillary, were going under the hammer.

The pieces owned by Hillary include a Rolex Explorer I. He acquired this on the 20th anniversary of his failed 1972 attempt on the mountain Cho Oyu - an unusual celebration. The watch itself was made in 1972.

Also listed for sale was his Explorer II - also known as his 'Steve McQueen' which was made in 1973 and bought to mark the 20th anniversary of his successful Everest ascent. This had been valued at £12,000.

Perhaps best of the lot was an Oyster Perpetual which was given to the explorer by Rolex retailer Bosecks, a forerunner of Rolexes' Explorer range of watches. This would have brought over £12,000 - actually we suspect a lot more, given its memorabilia value as an investment.

However, the sale has been halted, as Hillary's children have disputed the ownership of the watches, which were being put up for sale by Hillary's second wife. His first wife Louise was killed in a plane crash in 1975 and he married again in 1989.

The watches were expected to fetch the equivalent of $385,500 in the Geneva auction, but could incur the seller a fine of around $150,000 if the courts decide they were not hers to sell.

Collectors who want to make sure they have a piece of Hillary memorabilia might want to take a look at this signed picture of the explorer, which is currently available.


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