A Rolex Oyster Chronograph that was worn by a British Prisoner of War (PoW) during the Great Escape, which was the subject of the famous film of the same name, is being sold via auction with a price tag of £30,000.
In 1842, while being held in the Stalag Luft III camp in Germany, flight lieutenant Gerald Imeson still managed to order and receive a new watch. Rolex offered all British officer PoWs a watch to replace those that were seized by the Germans on the condition that they paid for the watch once the war was over.
Imeson was wearing the watch when he helped dig the three tunnels for the well-documented 1944 escape attempt. He was one of the so-called ‘penguins’ who secretly got rid of the excess soil that was dug from the tunnels, by distributing it through holes in their trouser pockets into the grounds of the compound.
Imeson himself was too far back in the line to escape through the tunnel before the guards discovered the break-out attempt. Imeson survived the war and he and his fellow prisoners were liberated in May 1945.
Imeson’s watch stayed with him throughout his ordeal and he settled his account with Rolex after his escape and treasured the piece for the rest of his life. He passed away in 2003 at the age of 85.
The Rolex Oyster Chronograph, ref 3525, is due to be auctioned at Bourne End Auction Rooms, Buckinghamshire on Wednesday November 6 at 10.30am.