Initially created for an Everest expedition,
this elegant new range is now raising funds for the
Nepal relief fund
Quoting Rabbie Burns is not the best way to introduce a story on Robert Loomes & Co, Lincolnshire’s determinedly English watchmaker, but “the best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men. Gang aft agley,” seems fitting, as what was a simple plan to raise funds for the Mountain Trust and the Gurkha Welfare Trust has become a somewhat more serious endeavour. Loomes & Co sent a batch of watches off to Everest with a party from the Royal Gurkha Regiment, who were planning to climb the world’s tallest mountain as part of the 200th anniversary since the first Gurkha battalion was raised in India.
Loomes’ interest lay in the company’s use of (extensively) reworked Smiths movements in their Robin watches, Smiths having famously sponsored the 1953 expedition to Everest which saw Edmund Hillary and Tenzig Norgay conquer the summit. The catalyst, however, was a chance encounter with the chairman of the Mountain Trust, Charles Malcolm-Brown. He offered Robert Loomes the opportunity to send watches to Everest as part of the Gurkha expedition and on March 10th the watches were officially handed over at Stamford Town Hall. The watches use 19 jewel, manual-wind, Smiths movements that have been completely stripped and re-built with re-frosted and gilded plates as well as lighter “cold weather” lubrication, adjusted for running at -20 and -40 degrees.
Sadly, events overtook the expedition in the shape of the disastrous series of earthquakes and aftershocks that have devastated Nepal over the past few weeks. The team were already above Camp 2 on the Everest massif and climbing to 7,000m when the quake struck. The subsequent avalanche stranded them and other groups above the effectively impassable Khumbu Glacier.
After co-ordinating the helicopter rescue of their own party and everyone above them on the mountain, the Gurkha team helped lead the relief work at base camp. Once the team finally return, two of the watches will be auctioned on behalf of the Mountain Trust and the Gurkha Welfare Trust – both organisations that are well-placed to help deliver aid and relief to the mountain communities so hard-hit by the recent quakes.
In the meantime Robert Loomes has set up a raffle page to raise funds, the prize being an Everest Expedition watch: visit the website for details on how to enter.