Attention! Dirty Dozen military watches to start bidding battle at Lichfield auction

A ‘DIRTY Dozen’ military watch which has truly stood the test of time is coming up for auction in Lichfield.

The rare Eterna timepiece goes under the hammer in Day One of Richard Winterton Auctioneers’ Two Day Antiques & Home Sale on Monday, July 5, starting at 9.30am.

As well as a famous war movie, the Dirty Dozen is the modern nickname of a group of 12 watches commissioned by the British MoD for World War Two soldiers in 1944 and 1945.

Civilian watches were deemed not accurate enough and strict specifications for the new timepieces were required.

Twelve companies went on to fulfil the brief: Buren, Cyma, Eterna, Grana, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Lemania, Longines, IWC, Omega, Record, Timor, and Vertex.

Yet whereas Omega’s Dirty Dozen model is known to have been made 25,000 times, as few as 5,000 are understood to have been produced by watchmaker Eterna.

The example featuring as Lot 129 in the July 5 sale live from The Lichfield Auction Centre, Fradley Park, is in very good condition, running and functioning well despite being close to 80 years old. It is estimated to sell for £600 to £800.

Monday 5th July 2021 As few as 5,000 of these wartime ‘Dirty Dozen’ watches are understood to have been produced by Eterna.
As few as 5,000 of these wartime ‘Dirty Dozen’ watches are understood to have been produced by Eterna.

A wartime Dirty Dozen model by Record, estimated at £400-£600, is Lot 130 in the same auction.

Part of a large single owner collection, both watches bear the British Military broad arrow and ‘W.W.W.’ markings on regulation black dials.

View the digital catalogue here

Auctioneer Richard Winterton said: “The custom-built military Dirty Dozen wristwatches are incredibly popular in the world of collectable watches.

“They were built to the exacting chronometer standards and had to be accurate, waterproof and shockproof as well as having a black dial, luminous hands and markers, Arabic numerals, a ‘railroad’ minute track and a shatterproof crystal – all powered by a 15 jewel movement.

Monday 5th July 2021 This Record ‘Dirty Dozen’ military wristwatch is a good example of the strict specifications laid out by the British MoD in World War Two.
This Record ‘Dirty Dozen’ military wristwatch is a good example of the strict specifications laid out by the British MoD in World War Two.

“The fact that these two are still ticking today is a testament to those high standards.”

Other military watches in the sale include models by Hamilton, CWC, Smiths, BWC and MWC.

Monday 5th July 2021 A Smiths ref. W10 British Military wristwatch circa 1967 (est. £500-£700).
Lot 134: A Smiths ref. W10 British Military wristwatch circa 1967 (est. £500-£700).

The auction also includes a number of sought-after vintage Omega and Rolex watches, including a 1973 stainless steel Rolex Explorer II reference 1655, calibre 1570 (Lot 139 est £10,000-£12,000) and a 1985 Rolex GMT-Master model number 16750 calibre 3075 (Lot 138 est £9,000-£12,000).

Monday 5th July 2021 Lot 131: A Hamilton military issue wristwatch (est. £220-£280).
Lot 131: A Hamilton military issue wristwatch (est. £220-£280).

Mr Winterton added: “Perhaps July is too soon to start taking about the ‘sale of the year’ but, whatever happens during the rest of 2021, this is definitely up there!”

Going under the hammer on the same day is a mysterious set of rare Manx 10p coins which may be the only mint examples left in existence, a large collection of silver and an array of gem set jewellery including diamond rings worth thousands of pounds.

Day One also features an impressive collection of prestige Royal Doulton figures replete with rare colourways and limited editions, further ceramics by Lladró, Beswick, Border Fine Arts and Disney and a fine selection of vintage Corgi toy vehicles.

Day Two of the sale features antique and modern design furniture.

View the digital catalogue here

For auction enquiries and to book a valuation appointment, telephone 01543 251081 or email office@richardwinterton.co.uk.

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