Grana ‘Dirty Dozen’ wristwatch – £18,000 at Thomas Miller.

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The price, triple the lower end of the £6000-7000 guide, is thought to be a new high for the model.

The watch, with an associated strap but in otherwise excellent untouched condition, came for sale from a property in Northumberland. After the firm had sold some Edwardian and Victorian furniture, the downsizing vendor mentioned in passing a watch that their family had owned since the 1950s.

Watches of this kind were ordered by the British Ministry of Defence during the tail-end of the Second World War for issue to army ground personnel. The acronym WWW to the case back stood for ‘Watch, Wrist, Waterproof’. Twelve different brands were commissioned to make the watches in c.1945: Buren, Cyma, Eterna, Grana, International Watch Co, Jaeger-Le-Coultre, Lemania, Longines, Omega, Record, Timor and Vertex. The Grana is considered the rarest with perhaps as few as 1500 made by this otherwise routine maker.

Prior to 2015, prices between £3000-5000 were typical. This changed in May 2018 when Trevanion & Dean sold one for £9000 followed by another at Sheffield Auction Gallery on October 2019 for £12,000. However, last week’s sale (over £21,000 with 21% buyer’s premium added) takes the brand into new territory.

Auctioneer Guy Macklam told ATG the purchaser, bidding via, was based in the North-West, with the underbidder from the North-East also online. Three phone lines did not make a bid, with an overseas commission bidder of £16,000 also disappointed not to secure the prize.

The sale took place on October 5.