A military issue Rolex wristwatch, originally purchased for under £1,000, was recently discovered by the BBC Antiques Roadshow to be worth several times the expected amount, now valued by Bonhams at £50,000-70,000. It is offered at Bonhams Fine Watch Sale, taking place 16 December.

The vendor was first alerted to the potential value of his Rolex whilst watching an episode of BBC series, the Antiques Roadshow, when he saw a similar watch to his valued at a considerable amount more than he'd anticipated.

When the Roadshow came to Lincolnshire in early 2015, the vendor took the watch along to have it valued. He was delighted to find that it was worth a great deal more than he'd originally thought.

"After the Antiques Roadshow valuation, the vendor was very excited to bring the watch to Bonhams," said Jonathan Darracott, Bonhams Head of Watches. "It is a rare double reference version of the Military Submariner, issued to the British Navy in the early 1970s."

The Royal Navy ordered a series of watches from Rolex for use by their specialist personnel. These watches have fixed bar lugs and the hands are of sword shape so they are more legible under low light conditions. The dials are also marked with the "Circle T", which is the international symbol for Tritium, a treatment the watch received to help the wearer see the hands in the dark.

The case backs are engraved on the interior with the serial number and also on the outside case back with the Ministry of Defence issue number. 

The wristwatch was shown on BBC Antiques Roadshow on Sunday 8 November.

It will be sold at Bonhams Fine Watch Sale, taking place 16 December at 101 New Bond Street.


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to https://www.bonhams.com

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