A Rolex snapped up at a car boot sale for £10 has earned its owner almost £50,000 after creating a bidding frenzy at auction.
The timepiece was found by a Cheshire man who was clearing out his late father’s house. He believes his father picked up the watch between 10 and 20 years ago, paying no more than a tenner for it.
He had expected it to be worth a few hundred pounds, but it turned out to be a rare Rolex issued to Italian navy divers during the Second World War.
The device was manufactured by Italian firm Panerai in a collaboration using a Rolex movement, and was auctioned without a strap and a non-functioning mechanism.
However, it still managed to fetch a £46,000 hammer price as 10 phone lines were taken up by bidders desperate to get their hands on it. With fees added on, the new owner would have paid almost £56,000 in total.
According to reports, the unit was one of only 618 Rolex 17 Rubis Panerai 3636 watches made in the two-year period between 1941 to 1943.
The watches were waterproof and featured an oversized face which illuminated in the dark to assist divers operating under-water missiles that could only be used at night.
It is thought that the watch was probably collected as a souvenir by a British serviceman at the end of the war, which is how it ended up back in the UK.
Auctioneers said they believed the watch was one of the few from that particular collection that wasn’t engraved by its initial owner.