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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.

soldier GH Rowson

British soldier GH Rowson, who acquired a watch from a German frogman trying to blow up the bridge at Nijmegen in 1944. That Panerai Italian Second World War military diver watch sold for £41,000 in the Fellows Sale.

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.

Panerai Second World War diver watch

The Panerai Italian Second World War military diver watch that sold for £41,000 at Fellows.