Rolex watch worn by prisoner in ‘great escape’ from Nazi war camp fetches $189,000 at auction

At a New York auction organized by Christie’s, a Rolex watch worn by a British prisoner during the “great escape” from a Nazi war camp fetched $189,000.

In 1944, Gerald Imeson was part of the group of Allied soldiers who undertook the daring escape from the Stalag Luft III POW camp.

During this escape, which inspired the 1963 movie starring Steve McQueen, Imeson wore the Rolex watch up for auction.

According to Christie’s, which is a British auction house, Imeson had ordered the watch from Rolex in Switzerland.

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Rolex had shipped a steel watch with a luminous black dial to the prison camp near the present-day Polish town of Zagan via the Red Cross.

Calling the watch “an instrument in the planning and execution” of their bid for freedom, the auction house added that it helped prisoners time the patrols of camp guards as well as the time needed to crawl in the tunnels.

As he waited for 172nd to escape, Imeson wore the Oyster chronograph he owned until his death in 2003 at the age of 85.

The Rolex watch, which was first auctioned in Britain in 2013, was expected to sell for $200,000.

A Goldfish Club membership card, reserved for pilots and crew who crashed into the sea and survived, and a Royal Air Force whistle were among other famous items sold with the watch.

(With agency contributions)

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Floyd N. Morlan