Rolex watch worn by prisoner in WWII ‘great escape’ is up for auction, expected to fetch $400,000
Christie’s expects the watch to fetch between $200,000 and $400,000 at auction on June 9.
The watch was worn by Gerald Imeson on the night of March 24, 1944 when a group of Allied soldiers undertook the daring escape that inspired the 1963 film starring Steve McQueen.
The steel watch with a luminous black dial and hands was “instrumental in the planning and execution” of their bid for freedom, Christie’s said.
The auction house said it believed Imeson’s watch helped calculate how long it would take prisoners to crawl through the tunnels used in the escape as well as time guard patrols of camp.
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Imeson wore the Oyster Chronograph watch as he waited for the 172nd row to escape, according to Christie’s.
Of the 200 prisoners who participated in the plan, 76 briefly escaped. Imeson was not among them. All but three of the men were captured and 50 were executed.
Imeson was released from another POW camp when the war ended in 1945.
He wore the watch until his death in 2003 at the age of 85. It was first auctioned in Britain in 2013.