Rolex watches have long been linked to famous historical figures, even earning their Day-Date model the nickname “Presidential” for its ties to statesmen like Churchill and Eisenhower. That tradition will be further enriched with the auction of a Rolex Oyster Chronograph Antimagnetic worn by one of the heros of the “Great Escape” of WWII.
In 1944, Pilot Officer Gerald A. D. Imeson was being held as a Prisoner of War in Stalag Luft III, a Nazi prison camp. The British RAF bomber, who had been shot down in the North Sea in October 1941, actually had his Rolex Ref 3525 sent to him at the camp via the International Red Cross in Geneva.
The watch would bear witness to one of the most famous episodes of the Second World War. The night of March 24, 1944, 76 men crawled through a tunnel to freedom. Imeson was involved with tunnel preparations and allocated No. 172 in the escape plan, but the breakout was discovered before he could escape.
In 1945, Imeson and all the other POWs in the camp were force-marched across Germany in extreme winter conditions on what became known as the ‘Long March’. Imeson was accompanied by his Rolex throughout, till May 1945, when he was finally liberated.
Imeson’s timepiece is set to be auctioned off by Bourne End Auction Rooms in Buckinghamshire, England. The Rolex Oyster Chronograph Antimagnetic, Ref 3525, Serial No. 186052, features a stainless steel ‘monobloc’ Oyster case. The black dial features gold numerals and outer telemetric and tachometric scales, luminous hour and minute hands, and subsidiary dials for running seconds and minutes elapsed. The manual wind chronograph movement with overcoil hairspring and monometallic balance features 17 jewels. The dial, case and movement are signed.
The auction is set to take place on Wednesday, November 6. According to Bourne End Auction Rooms, estimates are £15,000 – £25,000 (approximately US$24,000 – US$40,000).
Photos courtesy Bourne End Auction Rooms.