27 Jun 2019
February 22, 2016 - Filed under: Auctions — Harriet

A Rolex watch that had been purchased during World War II fetched more than double its valuation, perhaps thanks to a letter left by the previous owner.

Vernon Wilkes, former RAF Air Bombardier, bought an Oyster Royalite Observatory watch, made by Rolex, in 1943. Wilkes had been a flight lieutenant during the Second World War, and had been active during the war. Throughout that time, Wilkes wore the watch while serving along with 150 others aboard the Avro Lancaster. He even credited the watch for keeping him safe during the war.

The Rolex continued to work well, until in 1975 Wilkes wrote to the company to report that the winder of the watch required attention, although the timepiece was working well overall. The letter contains details of how the watch was the only one to survive the freezing conditions aboard the Lancaster, “thereby ensuring our survival”.

In the letter, Wilkes says that he does not want to scrap the watch as it had sentimental value. The Rolex company responded to Wilkes, repairing the watch for him.

Wilkes passed away in 2013 and the watch has since belonged to collectors, and was valued at around £500 to £750. Due to the presence of the letter, the value of the watch has doubled.

The watch was sold at auction by Reeman Dansie in Colchester for £1,700. The new owner may want to display the rare watch in an antique cabinet, along with the accompanying letter that has helped to increase the value of the item.

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