Roamer Stingray chronograph – £950 at Lockdales.

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Not a brand with great collectable status, Roamer watches remain good value with plenty of models priced at under £100. The one exception is the chunky 1970s Stingray Chrono that can bring close to four figures. The example above sold for £950 at Lockdales (18% buyer’s premium) in Ipswich on February 16-17.

The Swiss firm Favre-Leuba was another quartz crisis casualty (it relaunched in 2007) but in its day was something of a pioneer in diving watch design.

The 1962 Bivouac was the world's first mechanical wristwatch with a barometer to measure altimetry and air pressure, while the Bathy in 1968 was the first wristwatch to record both dive time and depth. Another diving model, the Deep Blue, was introduced in 1964. The series had many iterations including this red, white and blue model with the so-called ‘roulette and matching checkerboard’ Bakelite bezel. An example offered at Lockdales had a very scratched plexiglass dial but was in working condition. Estimated at £80-120, it took £1250.

Leading this Suffolk sale was a more familiar diving ‘tool’ watch: a Rolex ‘double red’ Sea-Dweller Ref 1665, c.1972. This came for sale from a vendor who, working as hyperbaric welder with Comex and Statoil, purchased it new in 1976 for £250. Wearing this watch, he completed submarine production welds in various parts of the world until 1984. Sold in working order with its box and papers, it hammered at £35,000 (estimate £20,000-25,000).

Milisub with provenance

Bonhams’ (27.5/25/20/14.5% buyer’s premium) Watches and Wristwatches sale in Knightsbridge on February 22 included a version of the uber-collectable Rolex military issue Submariner or Milisub.


Rolex military issue Submariner – £160,000 at Bonhams.

Rolex supplied reference 5513 watches for British special forces throughout the 1970s, although over the course of the decade this numbered as few as 1200 units. The example above, made in c.1975 with the MOD number to the case back, came for sale from its original owner who had a 27-year career in the Royal Navy, during which period he was the recipient of the Royal Humane Society award in 1975 and the Queens Commendation for Brave Conduct in 1981. It set a record for a single lot sold by the Knightsbridge department when, estimated at £40,000-60,000, it took £160,000.

A similar watch, one with more original elements but without such a storied provenance, sold for £123,000 at Sterling Vault in Farnham in February last year.