NEW YORK (AFP) – A Rolex watch worn by a British prisoner during the real-life “Great Escape” from the Stalag Luft III prisoner-of-war camp sold for USD189,000 on Thursday in New York.
The final sum for the timepiece, sold to an anonymous buyer, was less than the USD200,000 and USD400,000 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 that inspired the 1963 movie starring Steve McQueen.
Imeson had 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.