Historic WWII Military Watch Acquired From German Soldier Up For Auction In Birmingham

Photo credits: Fellows

An extremely rare and historic Second World War Panerai military Diver watch is set to go under the hammer at Birmingham auction house, Fellows. Specialists in Jewellery and Watches, Fellows’ 30th January Watch Sale features one of the most fascinating timepieces in the history of the company.

This watch came into the possession of a British soldier during the Second World War. George H. Rowson acquired the watch from a Kampfschwimmer (German frogman), during a thwarted attempted on behalf of the German forces to destroy the important Nijmegen Bridge in the Netherlands, in September 1944.

The incident occurred following the Battle of Nijmegen Bridge. The aim of the battle was for the Allies secure the bridge in order to gain quick access to the Dutch city of Arnhem. Part of a wider initiative known as Operation Market Garden, Allied airborne and land forces attempted to liberate the cities of Eindhoven and Nijmegen in the Netherlands from German occupation.


WW2 Panerai. Photo credits: Fellows

This model of Panerai watch was initially intended for the Italian Decima MAS until they were taken by the Germans. The German Kampfschwimmer who owned the watch is known to have received special training in Italy and wore an Italian-made specialised rubber dive suit.

Bridge at Nijmegen. Photo credits: Fellows

According to Rowson’s first-hand account of the incident, at 06:30am on Sept 29th 1944, German Kampfschwimmers fixed charges underwater to the main supports of the bridge at Nijmegen. Once the German soldiers had completed their mission, they exited the river thinking they were back within their own lines. At this point, they were captured by a section of British soldiers which included Rowson. The charges they had placed were defused and so Nijmegen Bridge remained undamaged.

G H Rowson. Photo credits: Fellows

The timepiece was eventually passed down to Rowson’s son and has remained in single ownership since, having been worn only a few times. The item comes with a hand-written account of the event by Rowson, along with a section of the rubber diving suit acquired from the German soldier.

G H Rowson Reconnaissance Corps. Photo credits: Fellows

The Panerai is estimated at £30,000 – £40,000. With previous in-demand watches at Fellows going under the hammer at amazing prices, including a Rolex Milgauss which sold for £110,000 in November 2017, the military Panerai is sure to be no exception.

Panerai original strap. Photo credits: Fellows

Panerai watch documentation. Photo credits: Fellows

WW2 Panerai. Photo credits: Fellows

View full lot information here

The Watch Sale is now available to view online and in person at the following times:

23 January 2018 12pm – 7pm (London)

27 January 2018 11am – 4pm (Birmingham)

29 January 2018 10am – 4pm (Birmingham)

30 January 2018 8.30am – 11am (Birmingham)

Photo ID is required

The auction will take place on Tuesday 30th January, staring at 11am.

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