World War II Panerai sells for $69,000 at UK watch auction

TWS April Panerai plate

In Britain they call it an Only Fools & Horses moment after a sitcom in which struggling market traders finally become millionaires after discovering a a beaten up timepiece gathering dust in a draw.

That is exactly what happened this week when a historic military Panerai watch head that had been kept in a draw for 75 years sold at auction for £53,592 ($69,000) (including commission).

The watch, a German “Kampfschwimmer” Panerai Radiomir diver that dates back to World War II went under the hammer at a Fellows auction.

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Captain Alfred Packer of 43rd Reconnaissance Regiment first acquired the watch during Operation Market Garden in the Netherlands, in September 1944.

The watch was kept in a drawer by his son ever since, without being worn. The Panerai was estimated at $25,000 – $35,000 in Fellows’ Watch Sale on Tuesday 2nd April, and sold a hammer price of £42,000 ($55,000).

The watch was sold with Captain Packer’s military issue jacket, photograph, military service records and a fascinating personal diary depicting the experiences of the regiment in 1944.

The horological and military history of the watch generated excitement in the Fellows sale room as phone and internet bidders competed for the watch.

Bidding started at £18,000 and steadily increased until the bidders in the room joined the fray at £34,000. When the hammer eventually fell at £42,000 the room burst into applause, congratulating their fellow bidder on their success at securing this remarkable piece of history.

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Rob Corder

The author Rob Corder