Faizel Patel
Senior Digital Journalist
2 minute read
12 Jun 2022
1:07 pm

Rolex worn during WWII ‘Great Escape’ sells for $189,000

Faizel Patel

The escape inspired the 1963 movie starring Steve McQueen, James Coburn, Charles Bronson and Richard Attenborough among other stars

The watch was worn by Gerald Imeson on the night of March 24, 1944. Photo: AFP

A Rolex watch worn by a British prisoner during the real-life “Great Escape” from the Nazi Stalag Luft III prisoner-of-war camp has sold for $189,000.

The auction took place last week at Christies in New York.

AFP report that the highly sort after timepiece, sold to an anonymous buyer, was less than the $200,000 and $400,000 expected by Christie’s.

The watch was worn by Gerald Imeson on the night of March 24, 1944, when a group of Allied soldiers undertook the daring escape.

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The daring escape inspired the 1963 movie starring Steve McQueen, James Coburn, Charles Bronson, James Garner and Richard Attenborough among other stars.

Imeson ordered the watch from Rolex in Switzerland, who shipped it via the Red Cross to the prison camp near the present-day Polish town of Zagan, Christie’s said.

The steel watch with a black luminous dial and hands was “instrumental in the planning and execution” of their bid for freedom, the auction house added.

Christie’s said it believed Imeson’s watch helped calculate the time it would take the prisoners to crawl through tunnels used in the breakout as well as timing the patrols of the camp guards.

Imeson wore the Oyster Chronograph watch as he waited 172nd in line 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 who was liberated from another prisoner of war camp (Pow) camp at the end of the war in 1945 wore the watch until his death in 2003 at the age of 85.

The watch was sold along with several other items, including a Royal Air Force whistle and a membership card for The Goldfish Club  reserved for pilots and crew who have crash landed into the sea and survived.

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