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Rare Rolex that glowed in the dark helped PoWs dig tunnels in the real WWII “Great Escape” sold for £155,000

A Rolex watch that glowed in the dark – helping British PoWs make the real-life Great Escape from a German camp – has been sold for £155,000.

The watch belonged to Flight Lieutenant Gerald Imeson.

He was sent to Stalag Luft III after his Wellington bomber crashed landed in Belgium.

During the escape – immortalised in the 1963 film The Great Escape – Imeson oversaw the disposal of dirt from the tunnels – Tom, Dick, and Harry – and scattering it around the camp.


The radium hands on the Rolex could be seen in the dark – allowing diggers to time their work to avoid being rumbled.

Adam Victor, senior watches consultant at auctioneers Christie’s, said:

“The opportunity to own an exceptionally rare and beautiful Rolex is worth noting, but the opportunity to own a watch with the extraordinary provenance of this 3525 is virtually unheard of.

“It carries with it a tale of perseverance and survival in the face of immeasurable hardship.

“Telling the story of one man who experienced the entirety of World War II, this watch is a testament to the strength of an individual resisting and fighting in the throes of a collective horror.

“Its historical importance is as invaluable as the strength which carried him throughout those years.”

The watch was sold for £155,000.

Flt Lt Imeson was 172nd in the queue to go through the tunnel.

He did not escape. He was finally freed at the end of the war.

He died aged 85 in 2003.

Military issued watches were often taken off PoWs by prison guards who believed they could be used as a compass.

However, as a mark of respect, the Luftwaffe allowed British RAF officers the chance to buy Rolex watches on credit.

Flt Lt Imeson chose a top-of-the-line Oyster Chronograph model.







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