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October 12, 2012

Limited Edition Kobold Made From the Mountain It Conquered

By Pardhasaradhi Gonuguntla

Michael Kobold is not just a watchmaker; he is also an adventurer of sorts. But then again he has to be: The products manufactured by his brand, Kobold Watches, are marketed and sold to military units, police forces and intrepid adventurers. And with good reason, as a Kobold timepiece can take anything that is dished out.

Case in point: In 2008, Kobold spontaneously joined brand ambassador Sir Ranulph Fiennes, described by the Guinness Book of World Records as “the world’s greatest living adventurer,” on a Mount Everest bid. Kobold was ill-prepared to climb and did not even expect to reach base camp, the last settlement before serious alpinists scale the earth’s highest mountain. He made it up much higher before both men were forced to retreat.

The duo topped the summit in 2009, and the Pittsburgh-based watch manufacturer repeated the feat in 2010 with his wife. During the three courageous climbs, the lives of Kobold and his cohorts were seriously endangered. Only by the grace of their skilled Sherpas did they survive. In his gratitude, Kobold decided to train the two members of the Sherpa caste as watchmakers and have them run a new subsidiary in Kathmandu called Kobold Watch Company Nepal (Pvt.) Ltd as co-owners.

The “made in Nepal” Kobold model assembled in Namgel Sherpa and Thundu Sherpa’s workshop is called the Himalaya. Housed in a 44mm stainless steel case made in the US, the brown or black dial—characteristic of Kobold in its clarity—is placed beneath sapphire crystal and over a special automatic movement. Caliber K.2651 is based on a vintage Förster movement from Pforzheim that currently only Kobold utilizes. The watch is water-resistant to 100 meters and has an alligator strap.

To celebrate the opening of the Nepal branch, Kobold created the limited Himalaya Everest Edition with a dial crafted from Mt. Everest limestone plucked from the summit and carried back down in 2009 by Kobold himself. A German company then spent 24 months crafting beautiful 5mm-thick dials from this rock—making each of these 25 special timepieces retailing for $16,500 inimitably unique.

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