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In July, 1952, Captain James Simpson and his crew left Britain to embark on the British North Greenland Expedition, a two-year scientific study of the geology, glaciology, meteorology and physiology of the arctic. To their kit, Captain Simpson's crew added thirty stainless steel Tudor Oyster Princes.
By this time, Rolex had already established itself as a brand committed to testing their tool and sport watches in the most extreme environments possible, utilizing 'natural laboratories' to test new designs and executions. In 1927, a Rolex Oyster Perpetual successfully crossed the English Channel on the wrist of an English swimmer. In 1933, strapped watches onto the wrists of the first pilots to fly over Mount Everest. In 1935, Sir Malcolm Campbell was wearing an Oyster Perpetual as he set a land speed record of over 300 miles per hour at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. Every time a watch was put to the test, Rolex was there to collect the data, vigilantly tweaking and modifying their timepieces to ensure durability and accuracy.
The expedition to Greenland was a perfect opportunity to test the growing line of Tudor sport watches - timepieces that were designed to be hearty workhorses with automatic movements and waterproof oyster cases. Despite the extreme weather conditions and barrage of ice, snow and water, the Oyster Princes were a success, proving their reliability and accuracy.
In November of 1953, one of the crew, Captain J.D. Walker of the British Royal Engineers, sent a letter to Rolex expressing his "extreme admiration" for the Tudor that he was issued. In that letter he wrote:
"...My duties necessitated many varied activities, from stores humping and hut building to driving 'Weasels" and dog sledging on the icecap. Temperatures varied from 70ºF to -50ºF, and on many occasions during the thaw period the watch was unavoidably immersed in water. Despite these trials, occasional time signals broadcast from England proved that my Rolex Tudor Prince watch was maintaining a remarkable accuracy. On no occasion did it require to be wound by hand. When on the ice-cap away from Base for several weeks at a time, it was of inestimable value to have on my wrist a watch whose accuracy could be depended upon at all times..."
This particular Oyster Prince hails from the mid 1950s and has a gorgeously-aged dial with dart markers and alpha hands, an execution very similar to those worn on by the scientists on the Greenland Expedition, a true rarity today.
Stainless Steel Oyster Case is approximately 33.5mm (excluding crown). Tudor Reference 7909. Circa 1955.
Overall Condition: The watch is in very good condition over all with no major blemishes or dents. Stainless case is sound and lugs remain thick, with signs of very careful thoughtful polishing. Original Tudor dial has aged to lovely cream color, set off nicely by the gold-toned dart hour markers and patinated luminous dots. Original Alpha hands. Rolex-signed crown with cross insignia.
Includes one 19mm Peat strap by analog/shift and two 19mm nylon straps by Crown & Buckle.