This rare Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner stainless steel watch sold at a Gardiner Houlgate auction for £140,000 on October 26.

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The watch, sold at Gardiner Houlgate last week, is one of only 50 known to exist around the world.

This version of the Submariner was only made during the late 1950s and early 1960s. The addition of a dash on the dial – known to collectors as the Underlined Explorer dial – makes it rarer still.

Gardiner Houlgate valued it at £60,000-100,000 but after interest online and on the telephone from six “serious international bidders” it was knocked down to a collector from China.

Family photos

The watch had been a gift from the vendor's wife just before the birth of their first child in 1966.

It was sold with a box and purchase receipt and the vendor also provided photos of him wearing the watch in 1967/68 and 1977.

Auctioneer David Hare said: “Provenance is key and you can’t put a price on it. This watch had family photos which is lovely to see. Just what collectors love.”

The owner decided to sell his watch after hearing about the sale of a similar watch at Gardiner Houlgate in May which went for £160,000.

Previously the vendor had taken his watch to be serviced which led to some slight damage on the dial. He subsequently tried to have this repaired but eventually was unable to do so. If the dial had been replaced it would have knocked 95% off its value.

Hare added: “He should write a letter thanking the company for not replacing it.”

The watch was sold as part of a three-day sale of watches, clocks and horology which in total made £650,000.

The watch section on October 26 – with more than 420 lots – made nearly £400,000.