On Mallory’s Watch: Frozen in time

You have probably guessed by now that I am a bit of a Mallory nut.

Mallory needs no introduction, but yesterday I found a spectacularly detailed article about his Borgel wristwatch… whatever makes you tick I guess.

The watch was found on Mallory’s body when it was discovered in 1999. It was missing its crystal and hands, and was found in a pocket of Mallory’s clothing. There has been speculation that the watch lost its crystal and stopped during a climbing manoeuvre, an arm jamb in a rock fissure while ascending the second step, and that the position of the hands could indicate the time at which the arm jamb took place. However the author of the article argues convincingly that there were “no signs that the watch has even been scratched lightly against a rock, let alone crushed against or between rocks during a hand jam. When the watch was examined it was found that the balance staff pivots are unbroken and the movement is in good working order. Watches of this age do not have shock protection for the balance staff pivots, which are very delicate and can be easily broken if the watch is knocked sharply against a hard object. The fact that the balance staff pivots are not broken shows that the watch did not sustain any such damage. It was reported that when the rusted stumps of the hands were removed the movement started ticking.” I love the idea that the time between Mallory and the modern age had literally been frozen! The watch is now in the keeping of the Royal Geographical Society in London. You can read much more about David’s thoughts and professional comments on the watch here, and also see his designs for vintage watch straps here.  (He also holds the copyright to the photo below).

Mallory movement sm

1 Comment

Filed under Tibetology, Timology

One response to “On Mallory’s Watch: Frozen in time

  1. Sausage

    The finest embodiment of the romance of the exploring age

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