Great Escape POW Rolex beats estimate by 230%

A 1940 Rolex Oyster wristwatch belonging to a British Great Escape POW has sold for £165,000 ($246,194) at Bourne End Auctions.

It beat an estimate of £50,000 ($75,050) by 229.9% in the December 2 sale.

Rolex Oyster Bourne
Escape tunnel mastermind Jack Williams owned the 1940 Rolex Oyster

Rolex famously ran a promotion during the second world war allowing British POWs to apply for a watch on credit. They were delivered by the Red Cross, with the balance paid off after the war.

The owner of this watch, flight lieutenant Jack Williams, was an inmate at the Stalag Luft III camp in Poland.

He was one of the masterminds behind the now legendary tunnel that inspired the classic movie The Great Escape.

Before his escape he gave the watch to a friend. Tragically, he was one of 50 escapees rounded up and shot by the Gestapo.  

Auctioneer Martin Perrin told the Daily Mail: "[Flt Lt Williams] played a prominent part in the construction of the escape tunnel, hence his relatively high number in the queue…

"It is very hard to put a value on history. There is a lot of poignancy with this watch given what happened to Jack Williams."

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