Antiques Roadshow guest floored as dad’s watch from POW camp is worth thousands

In an old episode of Antiques Roadshow, a Rolex watch proved to have an incredible and unusual story behind it.

Expert Ben Wright welcomed a female guest to the show who explained all.

The guest began: “My father was in the 51st Highland Division and was captured in June 1940, and all their watches were taken from them by the Germans.

"What interests me so much is this watch was ordered by my father in 1941 direct to Switzerland, Rolex Switzerland, where it was delivered to him in the prison camp.

“I do not understand how the Germans could let them have the watches, and I believe that a lot of other prisoners ordered similar watches because it was an incredible morale booster for them!”

A shocked Ben continued: “I have never heard that you could order a Rolex from Switzerland via the Red Cross as I understand it, whilst under guard!

"The morale in the camp was very important, but to allow them mechanical things is extraordinary, and I had no idea this was allowed because physically, you could make something out of this watch!”

The guest continued: “They did, I think they made compasses out of the bits. I’m sure the man who organised the great escape was in a different camp.

Ben added: “You have here your father's prison of war camp documents, and astonishingly we have a picture of him entering the prison war camp looking like a normal young man.

"And then a picture right at the end of him here having had a gruelling time."

The guest confirmed that her father endured the prisoner of war camp for five years.

“The other thing that is extraordinary is that Rolex sent this watch, they had no payment for it, and they took it on trust that he would pay his bill at the end of the war like any good British gentleman," said Ben.

"At auction without the story it would be worth between £2500 and £3000, but with the story, it has to double in price so it must be worth a minimum of £5000!”

Shocked, the guest simply replied: “Goodness!” as Ben added: “I wouldn’t be at all surprised with the full story and such remarkable documentation I wouldn’t be surprised if it made considerably more.

“But I know you wouldn’t sell it and thank you so much for bringing it along because it really is a wonderful story!”

Antiques Roadshow is available to watch on BBC iPlayer.

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