Managing director and auctioneer at Fellows Stephen Whittaker conducted the sale on January 30 where the watch drew competition on the phone before it was knocked down at £41,000.
Estimated at £30,000-40,000, the watch came to auction with an intriguing backstory.
The vendor was the son of a British soldier, George H Rowson, who fought in the war and acquired the watch from a Kampfschwimmer during a thwarted attempted by the German forces to destroy the important Nijmegen Bridge in the Netherlands, in September 1944.
The watch was accompanied by a hand-written account of the event by Rowson, and even a section of the rubber diving suit acquired from the German soldier. It also has a hand-carved inscription on the reverse detailing the British soldier’s name, rank and the year the piece was acquired.
This model of Panerai watch featured a Rolex movement and was initially intended for the Italian Decima MAS (Decima Mezzi d'Assalto, or 10th Assault Vehicle Flotilla) but was also used by the Germans. They were made c.1941-43.
Read more on the background of the Panerai watch here.