Richards’ third attempt wasn’t as successful as his previous two, as he and his partners were partially buried in an avalanche and were eventually forced to forgo the expedition.
He wanted a watch that could tell him him the time in Tibet and back home in the States, but more importantly, he wanted a watch that could withstand adverse weather. Vacheron Constantin made him that watch: it’s encased in light titanium and incorporates tantalum, a rare earth metal. The Overseas Dual-Time Prototype is also easy on the eye: the caseback, for instance, includes a 22k gold winding rotor with an etching made by Richards himself, of Mount Everest seen from Tibet.
At the time the Overseas Dual-Time Prototype was made public, feedback was overwhelmingly positive. On social media alone, watch lovers from all over the world tried to talk Vacheron Constantin into taking the prototype into production, but their pleas never amounted to anything concrete.
Incorporating blackened white gold, the watch comes with the Ventile cotton strap Richards wore during the ascent, but includes a backup rubber strap as well. The case, dial, movement, strap and buckle are signed.
This tough-as-nails piece will go on sale at Phillips' Game Changers auction in New York on December 10, and is expected to fetch between $20,000 and $40,000. All proceeds will go to the National Geographic Society, to a project handpicked by Richards himself.