Watches & Jewelry

Will a Prisoner of War Rolex Stand Up to Celebrity Watch Auctions?

It seems that there are plenty of famous people’s watches up for auction in 2022. Honus Wagner, Arnold Palmer, Michael Caine have had personal watches sold or brought to auction so far this year. So why not think of this — Will a prisoner of war Rolex stand up to celebrity watch auctions?

It has been no secret that Rolex and fine watches have been rising handily in price. The watch prices went up even before the latest inflation news and before the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Fellows is a fine jewelry auctioneer established in 1876 with auction rooms in Birmingham (U.K.). The upcoming watch auction is taking place at Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter on Monday 21st March. Rolex provenance for every collector is available to own.

Lot 171 is a Rolex 9ct yellow gold Oyster Perpetual wristwatch 30mm with an impressive history that dates back to World War II. It has a reasonable estimate that prevents this from being as much of a high-end watch compared to some of the other watches that have been seen. Its estimate of 2,800 GBP to 3,600 GBP is roughly $3,584.00 USD to $4,608.00 USD at current conversion rates.

There are also many more expensive watches coming (see below) in this auction but the POW watch was an interesting standout among other famous and high-end watches. The POW Rolex watch has an impressive documented history listed below (image at Fellows):

This rare Rolex watch belonged to a British Army lieutenant Charles Maurice Anthony (Tony) Whitaker, of the Worcestershire Regiment. He was captured inland during the Battle of Dunkirk in 1940 whilst holding a bridge for men retreating to the beaches. Tony was missing for a year, presumed dead by his family. It was at Oflag VII-B, a camp for officers in Bavaria, where Tony received the Rolex. Rolex and Hans Wilsdorf sent these watches to officers as a morale boost, who paid for them later on returning to Great Britain. It is believed that British soldiers had to request a watch by letter.

POW Rolex

Collectors Dashboard has been tracking other auctions of watches owned by celebrities so far in 2022 and these are the prices paid for celebrity watches in 2022:

  • Sir Michael Caine’s Rolex. An 18K gold quartz calendar bracelet watch Oyster quartz Day-Date, Ref 1901819000, Circa 1979 sold for 125,250 GBP including buyers premium on March 2, 2022 which is $160,320.00 USD.
  • Honus Wagner 1939 Baseball Hall of Fame Grand Opening Induction “Gruen Curvex” Wristwatch sold for $58,800.00 by Heritage Auctions on February 26, 2022 after 17 bids.
  • Arnold Palmer’s 1970 18K Gold Rolex Oyster Perpetual Day-Date did not sell at the SCP auction on February 5, 2022 because the $20,000.00 reserve was not met.

Even in 2021 there were plenty of famous watches or watches owned by celebrities that went up for auction. There was a $9.5 million Patek Philippe wristwatch owned by Egyptian royalty, a billionaire’s famous watch collection in California, and there was even Al Capone’s Patek Philippe pocket watch that sold.

Collectors Dashboard evaluates high-end collectibles as an alternative asset class. This means certain rare watches are attracting the same capital that could have been invested into stocks or bonds. Many collectibles now cost thousands of dollars (or much more). Does a POW Rolex count as a high-end? Well, that remains to be determined.

Here are the other watches to know in this auction’s 256 lots with estimates in this upcoming Fellow’s Luxury Watch Sale for March of 2022:

  • Lot 198. TAG HEUER – a collection of five Monaco 50th Editions wrist watches in a presentation case. Number 24 of 50. Estimate £30,000 – £50,000 which is $38,400.00 USD to $64,000.00 USD.
  • Lot 145. ROLEX – an 18ct white gold Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona chronograph bracelet watch, 39mm. Estimate £16,000 – £22,000 which is $20,480.00 USD to $28,160.00 USD.
  • Lot 165. ROLEX – a stainless steel Oyster Perpetual Daytona Cosmograph chronograph bracelet watch, 39mm. Estimate £15,000 – £20,000 which is $19,200.00 USD to $25,600.00 USD.
  • Lot 108. OMEGA – a limited edition bi-metal Marine 1932 Museum Collection Co-Axial wrist watch, 33mm. Estimate £12,000 – £18,000 which is $15,360.00 USD to $23,040.00 USD.