A Panerai diver’s watch belonging to a second world war German frogman (kampfschwimmer) has sold for £41,000 ($58,753) at Fellows.
The piece was acquired by British soldier George H Rowson, who was patrolling the Nijmegen bridge in Holland in September 1944.
The German frogmen were captured trying to destroy a Dutch bridge in 1944
He helped capture a group of German divers, who were attempting to detonate underwater charges to bring the bridge down.
The auction house comments: “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.
“According to a first-hand account of the incident, by the solider who acquired the watch, 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.”
Rowson kept the watch for himself, bringing it home after the war.
He had the reverse engraved with his name and rank.
The Italian-made Panerai watches were produced between 1941 and 1943, originally for the nation’s Decima Flottiglia MAS commando unit.
They proved to be of such quality that the Germans ordered some for their own forces. They’re very sought after today.
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