Rolex. A stainless steel wristwatch with rare Prisoner of War provenance including a letter signed from the Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf Case No.139041, circa 1943
Lot 232
Rolex. A stainless steel wristwatch with rare Prisoner of War provenance including a letter signed from the Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf Case No.139041, circa 1943
Sold for £4,200 (US$ 6,962) inc. premium
Lot Details
Rolex. A stainless steel wristwatch with rare Prisoner of War provenance including a letter signed from the Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf
Case No.139041, circa 1943
17-jewel manual wind movement with Patented Super Balance, silvered dial with black printed Arabic numerals, blued steel hand, red centre seconds, polished case with chamfered bezel, screw down Oyster crown and screw back numbered 139041, together with Rolex Headed letter dated 18th March 1943, Guarantee card, outer envelope all stamped in red with the Oflag VII B gepruft stamp
30mm.

Footnotes

  • The letter dated 18th March 1943, to Pte.H.Thorpe, directly from Hans Wilsdorf in Geneva, states that that they have sent by parcel post the watch that he ordered on the 10th of Jan.1943 but 'he must not even think of settlement during the war'. It is known that Rolex would send watches to the Prisoner of War camps, but only on receiving a letter from a British Soldier stating the reasons for their request. The fact that Rolex would not ask for payment until after the war led to many prisoners taking up this offer. It is not known exactly how many were sold this way but it is rare that the original papers and letters relating to the specific solider still survive like with this present watch.

    Oflag VII B Prisoner of War Camp:
    Held captive British, French and Belgian officers taken prisoner during the battle of France. In the summer of 1941 Australians and New Zealanders captured in Greece and Crete during the Balkans campaign arrived in the camp. After Rommel's second offensive on Tobruk on 21st June 1942 along most of the South African 2nd division was captured. Many of these soldiers were interned at Oflag V11-B. In September 1942 Canadian officers arrived from the Dieppe raid.
    In late 1942 British officers were transferred here from Oflag VI-B Dössel, where several had been involved in an unsuccessful escape attempt. On 3 June 1943, 65 prisoners escaped from Oflag VII B through a tunnel but within two weeks were captured. 50,000 German troops, and police, were engaged in the manhunt.
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