It remained with the same owner, Simon FL Barnett, until his recent death. He wore it continuously during sterling service in the Royal Navy and the Metropolitan Police and it can be seen on his wrist in countless photographs taken over the decades, whether on duty at work or relaxing with his family.
In 1964 the watch was bought new in Singapore for £70, while he was deployed as an aircraft handler and ship’s diver aboard the aircraft carrier HMS Victorious. A little later he had his young bride’s name, Dawn, engraved on the back.
When Victorious returned to Plymouth in July 1965, import duty had to be paid on the Rolex, totalling £11 and two shillings.
In April 1966, Barnett qualified as a search and rescue diver in the Fleet Air Arm. In August that year, he was deployed aboard aircraft carrier HMS Hermes. In 1967, during an 11-day period in the Mediterranean, there were two catastrophic aircraft accidents during which two pilots and an observer were killed.
Barnett was heavily involved in the the rescue and retrieval missions, at one point having to be rescued himself from the crash site, having nearly drowned in his attempts to free a trapped helicopter pilot from his capsized submerged craft.
TW Gaze says the watch has only been serviced twice (in 1980 and 2021) and has never been polished. The original bracelet strap was replaced after damage but remains with the watch. It will be offered with a collection of photographs, newspaper cuttings, letters, log-book entries, and records of commendations awarded to Barnett.
The estimate in Norfolk is £30,000-45,000.