Fellows will auction a piece of World War II history at its April Watch Sale when a Panerai watch head worn by a German frogman during an attempt to blow up a bridge in Nijmegen, The Netherlands, in 1944 goes under the hammer.
The timepiece was acquired by British Army Captain Alfred Packer of 43rd Reconnaissance Regiment and will be sold along with his military issue jacket, photograph, military service records and a fascinating personal diary depicting the experiences of the regiment in 1944.
It is expected to achieve £20,000 – £30,000 in Fellows’ Watch Sale on Tuesday 2nd April.
The German frogmen were unsuccessful in blowing up a bridge at Nijmegen, and were eventually captured by the Allies, where it is believed the watch was acquired.
One section deciphered from Captain Packer’s personal diary reads:
Friday 29th September 1944:
Bridges blown by Germans. B Sqn captured 5 of the party. Swam down the Rhine from Germany in special rubber swimming suits with rubber feet like frog’s feet. Rather a clever performance on part of Jerry. We are now rather like a beleaguered garrison. C.O. told me some rather disturbing news. Hope all will be well. Sup[plie]s will come across in DUKS I understand. C Sqn captured 5 more of the ‘dynamiters’.
Laura Bishop, Watch Manager at Fellows, said: “We are delighted to be able to offer another Panerai from WWII in our April Watch Sale. Following on from the success of the Panerai 3646 in January 2018, we can’t quite believe that we have another one up for sale. This example may be missing the wire lugs but the provenance certainly makes up for this. It really is an honour to sell such an exciting and rare piece of history.
“It is astonishing to think that the two WWII Panerai watches we have had up for auction in the past year were seized as part of the same altercation by men who would have surely known each other. Although there is no evidence of their families, who later consigned the watches to us, ever having known of each other, both watches have turned up at our auction house in Birmingham. We know that 10 divers were captured during this time and a couple more watches have come to auction recently. By my count there are still 6-8 watches unaccounted for.”