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The lot was estimated at £50,000-80,000 and was up for sale from a Wiltshire vendor whose late father had purchased it while serving as an RAF officer in the early 1960s. It had remained in the family ever since and was sold with all the boxes and papers.

“It wasn’t a sleeper really,” said director David Hare. “We knew what we had. But it’s still quite pleasing.”

It sold to an international buyer.

The Submariner with Explorer dials are believed to have been produced in small numbers during the 1950s and 60s, and according to Hare only a few examples are similar to the one sold at Gardiner Houlgate with its particular style of dial printing.

No other example of this watch has ever made more at auction. 

Another Explorer dial watch was sold at the Christies Geneva “Rare Watches” sale on May 16 at a hammer price of CHF197,000 (£135,575).

“I was worried initially that there were two up for sale so close together,” Hare said. “But this shows that regional specialist sales can still bring in the big prices. Once we got to £100,000 I thought ‘OK that’s good,’ and then it went quite rapidly on to £160,000.”