Important Collectors’ Wristwatches, Pocket Watches & Clocks
LOT 311
Clive Nutting’s POW Stalag Luft III Watch” Ref. 3525, Stainless Steel So-Called "Monoblocco” with Exceptional Original Documentation. Rolex, “Oyster Chronograph, Antimagnetic”, Ref. 3525. Case No. 185983. Made in 1941, sold "gratis” on July 8, 1943 to Corporal Clive James Nutting whilst a prisoner of War in Stalag Luft III. Very fine, one of very few remaining, water-resistant, stainless steel gentleman's wristwatch with black dial, round button chronograph, register, tachometer, telemeter and a stainless steel Rolex Oyster buckle. Accompanied by the original numbered receipt, numbered guarantee, Rolex envelope, three letters from the Rolex Watch Co. Ltd. signed by Hans Wilsdorf, and Corporal Nutting's archives, correspondence, and photographs relating to his time at Stalag Luft III.
C. Two-body, polished and brushed, screwed-down case back, concave lugs. D. Matte black with luminous gilt-edged Arabic numerals, outer gilt minute/seconds track, subsidiary seconds and 30-minute register dials, outermost gilt tachometer and telemeter scales. Luminous gilt "baton" hands. M. 13''', rhodium-plated, 17 jewels, straight line lever escapement, monometallic balance, selfcompensating Breguet balance-spring, index regulator. Dial, case and movement signed. Diam. 35 mm. Thickness 14 mm. Property of an Australian Gentleman
Estimate: 130,000 CHF - 160,000 CHF
Estimate: 80,000 EUR - 100,000 EUR
Estimate: 105,000 USD - 130,000 USD
Grading system

C 3 D 3-26-01 M 3*
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Ref. 3525
was one of the first Oyster Chronograph references and was available in stainless steel as well as 18K pink and yellow gold. The condition of the present watch and the rarity of the black dial make it one of the most desirable watches of this reference to appear at auction in the last decade. When this watch first appeared In the early 1940s it cost 350 Swiss Francs in stainless steel, in 18K gold it cost 935 Swiss Francs. Adding to the desirability of this particular watch is the almost unique survival of the original receipt bearing the reference and case number of the watch and the original numbered guarantee with it's postally used Rolex envelope. Historically important correspondence from the immediate post-war period between Clive James Nutting and Hans Wilsdorf himself is included with this lot and gives a fascinating insight into the business methods of the Rolex Watch Company during the Second World War. The documents included with this lot are: - Original order acknowledgement from Rolex Geneva to Corporal Nutting in Stalag Luft III, dated March 30, 1943. Signed by Hans Wilsdorf. - Original dispatch note from Rolex Geneva to Corporal Nutting in Stalag Luft III, dated July 10, 1943. Signed by Hans Wilsdorf. - Original Rolex receipt bearing the watch reference and case numbers, dated July 8, 1943. - Original Rolex guarantee and envelope bearing the watch case number, dated July 8, 1943. - Letter from C.J. Nutting to Hans Wilsdorf requesting that the watch is serviced and offering to pay for the watch, dated August 11, 1945. - Letter from Hans Wilsdorf to C.J. Nutting with instructions to return the watch for servicing and discussion of payment, dated August 20, 1945. Signed by Hans Wilsdorf. - Letter from The Rolex Watch Co., Ltd informing C.J. Nutting that payment can now be accepted at £15, 12s & 6d, dated March 23, 1948. - Corporal Nutting's wartime log with original drawings and photographs made in Stalag Luft III, official notices regarding his missing and prisoner status, newspaper cuttings, letter from United Artists regarding the film "The Great Escape" and Wessex Film Productions regarding the film "The Wooden Horse".

Rolex and Prisoners of War
Surviving documentation such as that included with the present lot shows that Rolex (and perhaps other watch factories) were engaged in the regular supply of watches to men incarcerated in Prisoner of War camps although this was probably limited to just one or two "model" camps such as Stalag Luft III, which was regarded as very civilised internment. How the prisoners chose their watches is not known and the officers, presumably because of the cost, were the main purchasers. The present watch was valued by Rolex at 250 Swiss Francs in 1943 although the purchasers were told that they would not be expected to pay until after the war. The supply of these watches to the prisoners was very enterprising of Rolex although not without obvious financial risk, by doing this they were helping the war effort and at the same time knowing that the watches given to the prisoners were very likely to be paid for after the war by those who survived. This enterprise also gave Rolex another opportunity for testing their products in extreme conditions, this is evident because in surviving correspondence Rolex always asks how the watch has performed for the wearer.

Stalag Luft III
Perhaps the most famous of the Prisoner of War Camps due to it being the scene of "the great escape" of March 1944 and the subsequent making of the 1962 film of the same name. Stalag Luft III was located at Sagan, 100 miles southeast of Berlin in what is now Poland, the camp was one of six operated by the Luftwaffe for downed British and American airmen. Compared to other POW camps, Stalag Luft III was regarded as quite comfortable, although still very unpleasant. The great escape itself caused a severe reaction from the Germans and because of the diversion of resources necessary to recapture to 76 men, it came to the personal attention of Hitler who ordered that 50 of the recaptured men be shot. After this, life became harder in the camp.

Clive James Nutting
A Corporal in the Royal Corps of Signals, he was first thought to be missing on June 16, 1940 and officially reported missing on June 19, 1940. By July 3, 1940 there was still no news but on July 20 a report came in from enemy sources to the effect that Corporal Nutting was being held in Stalag Luft III, this was confirmed on September 12, 1940. He had in fact been captured on May 28, 1940. Corporal Nutting was to spend the rest of the war in the camp and during his internment he worked as a cobbler, he was finally released on May 28, 1945. In 1962, United Artists - who were making the film of "The Great Escape" contacted Mr. Nutting as a person who had been in Stalag Luft III at the time of the escape and informed him of a planned reunion at the film premiere of 1963.

The encirclement of Switzerland by Axis powers from November 1942 meant tough times for the country’s watch industry, especially as it cut off its best customers, the British and Americans. But there were plenty of British and Americans on Switzerland’s doorstep — literally a captive market — in German prisoner-of-war camps, not to mention the growing number of escaped POWs finding refuge in Switzerland. By early 1943, the POW market was evidently booming — at least for Rolex, Geneva, when it confirmed an order for one of its more expensive watches from prisoner No. 738 in Stalag Luft III, Sagan, Germany. In acknowledging the order for one Chronograph Oyster No. 122 from Corporal Clive Nutting of the Royal Corps of Signals, Hans Wilsdorf, founding director of Rolex, warned of “an unavoidable delay in the execution of your order.” The delay was due, not to wartime conditions or restrictions, but to “a large number of orders in hand for officers.” That large number of orders is explained by the incredible offer Rolex was making to the nearly 10,000 captured officers, mostly airmen, in Stalag Luft III, and presumably to the thousands more in other officer camps. Underlined in Wilsdorf’s letter to Nutting are the words “…but you must not even think of settlement during the war.” The “buy-now-pay-whenever” offer meant that Wilsdorf, himself a German, was betting his watches on an Allied victory. By then the tide had turned; the Russians were on the offensive after Stalingrad, and Italy was crumbling. Yet this expression of trust must have been a wonderful boost to the morale of the POWs. Besides being a comfort in a POW camp, watches were part of an airman’s kit, and many had lost theirs on capture or in trying to avoid it. Flatteringly, the offer was only open to British officers, Wilsdorf believing their word to be their bond. But he also extended it to Corporal Nutting, who, though not an officer, was gentleman enough to order a 250-franc chronograph. The watch usually ordered by POWs was the much cheaper Rolex Oyster Perpetual model, popular among servicemen for its small size. The Rolex 3525 Oyster chronograph, ordered on March 10, 1943, was eventually sent on July 10 with a gratis invoice, and it was on Nutting’s wrist by August 4. As a chronograph, it could well have been useful in timing the patrols of the goons (prison guards) or the despatch of 76 escapers though tunnel “Harry” in the Great Escape of March 24, 1944. Nutting was among a few army personnel quartered in the North camp of Stalag Luft III, and as a valuable craftsman — he was a shoemaker — held a privileged position in charge of the camp’s leather workshop. He received a wage from the Germans, sent remittances to his family in England, and as an officer’s promissory note testifies, had money to lend. He could evidently afford a special watch. The next we hear of the watch is on Nutting’s return to his home in Acton, London, in August 1945 when he writes to Wilsdorf that although his watch served well in the cold weather during the evacuation of the camps, it was now gaining an hour a day. Where can he have it fixed? And can he have the final invoice? Due to British currency restrictions, Rolex could only send Nutting the invoice of £15 12s 6d for his watch in 1948. The chronograph stayed with him until his death in Australia in 2001 at the age of 90. The last record of Nutting’s POW watch is a restorer’s bill for 2,356 Australian dollars ( 1,400), dated March 28, 2003 — exactly 63 years after its original owner became a prisoner of war.

During his long captivity, Clive “Nobby” Nutting kept a war log filled with drawings, cartoons and photographs depicting life in World War II’s most famous prisoner-ofwar camp, Stalag Luft III — scene of the Great Escape. He starts the book with a colored drawing by an artillery officer that sums up his time in action prior to his capture on March 28, 1940, south of Dunkirk. It shows him clinging desperately to a damaged telegraph pole, trying to establish communications as bombs and shells rain down on a battle-torn landscape. Nutting had joined the Royal Corps of Signals — the army’s communications engineers — in 1935, as a part-time soldier in the reservist Territorial Army. By April 1940, Corporal Nutting was in France with the 44th Territorial division, part of the British Expeditionary Force guarding the border with Belgium. On March 10, the Germans attacked, splitting the French armies, encircling the BEF, and forcing it in a tighter pocket around Dunkirk — the only port of evacuation. On March 28, the Germans overwhelmed Nutting’s position near Cassel, a strategic communications center. That night, the remnants of his 44th division managed to slip away. Some were among the 340,000 British and French troops evacuated from Dunkirk. A series of official letters evokes the agony that Clive Nutting’s parents must have felt when they discovered their son hadn’t got back from Dunkirk. First he’s posted missing, and it’s not until September 12, 1940 that they know he’s a prisoner-of-war. We next see Nutting in a press photograph published in an American men’s magazine. He’s a haggard and exhausted prisoner on a cold, hungry march through Belgium and Germany to captivity. German soldiers hold their rifles at the ready. A contemporary handwritten account among his mementoes speaks of potato fields being stripped bare as the prisoners march over them, and of drinking milk as fast as they can steal it from the cow. From June to September 1940, Nutting is incarcerated at Stalag VIIIB in Lamsdorf. Then he’s moved to Stalag Luft I at Bart on the Baltic, where he stays until 1942. He spent from 1942 to 1945 at Stalag Luft III in Upper Silesia, where he was the camp shoemaker. At the end of January, he was evacuated ahead of the advancing Russians across Germany to Westertimke on the North Sea, and spent the remaining few weeks of his captivity at the Milag Nord camp for captured merchant seamen. The drawings and watercolors of camp life are typical of the British serviceman’s humor-inadversity. We see Nutting distilling 100- octane hooch from marmalade, or wondering whether to make potato substitute from bread or bread substitute from potatoes. One accomplished artist contributed a cartoon of a young man hurrying upstairs, a packet of ice-cream in one hand and dragging a scantily clad lady in the other, and urging: “Hurry darling! Before it gets soft!” But there’s also a grimly detailed pencil drawing of a camp watchtower, and series of watercolors of the march out of Stalag Luft III in midwinter 1945. First the POWs struggle through snow dragging a sled. Then the snow melts and they have to carry their loads. A dramatic drawing records an attack by a RAF Mosquito aircraft on February 22, 1945. Apart from the unpublished collection of POW art, there are a number of photographs with Nutting and his fellow POWs behind barbed wire, standing next to their huts or at work mending shoes. Nutting was in a way better off than many POWs. His job as cobbler kept him occupied. In wartime, your boots are your best friends, gold to the prisoners and their guards alike. He was undoubtedly popular, judging from the contributions to his scrapbook, and his evident sense of humor — natural in a Londoner — would have helped keep up the morale. Nutting came home in 1945, announcing his return to Rolex in a letter dated August 11. In the 1980s he retired to Australia, and died in Queensland, aged 90 in 2001. A TREASURE OF UNPUBLISHED POW MEMENTOES

THE GREAT ESCAPE - A game turned to tragedy
Of all Clive Nutting’s mementoes of prisoner- of-war life, none is more poignant than an illustrated poem depicting the tragic escape from Stalag Luft III in March 1944. The verse was penned by an Australian airman when the camp learned that the Nazis had murdered 50 of the escapers. Accompanied by a detailed drawing of the tunnel beneath the camp, it expresses the outrage and defiance of the POWs. “…Fifty fine fellows With good stout intentions Trusting no doubt in the Geneva Conventions Reckoning not with he mind of the Hun Fifty fine fellows — and now there are none. “Will we forget — or pardon this? Might we? I’ll wager a bet — ‘Not bloody likely!’” What became known as the Great Escape was an ambitious plot launched in early 1943 to get up to 250 POWs out of Stalag Luft III through tunnels beneath the wire. The mass breakout was designed to tie up as much of the German resources as possible in hunting the escapers. Masterminded by Squadron Leader Roger Bushell, a South African, it quickly grew to a massive undertaking, employing more than 500 of the camp’s artisans in the production of escape equipment — civilian clothes, German uniforms, compasses, rations and hundreds of forged documents and maps. The escape organisation built, stole or extorted tools, ventilation and lighting equipment for the tunnel engineers. The operation, under the noses of the Germans, required elaborate security and a constant monitoring of guards and patrols. As a shoemaker with well-equipped workshops at his disposal, a specialist in signals and an experienced “Kriegie” (POW), Nutting was part of the escape organisation from the start, making civilian belts, shoes and briefcases for the escapers. Nutting had already been involved in the ingenious “Wooden Horse” escape from Stalag Luft III in the summer of 1943. The POWs had started a tunnel from beneath a vaulting horse built out of Red Cross cases. Every day they carried the horse, with a man hidden inside it to the same spot in the prison compound as near to the wire as possible. While the prisoners vaulted, the man inside dug the tunnel. Nutting was one of the people who dispersed the earth dug out of the tunnel by dropping it out of bags inside his trousers. The three escapers got home. After the war, Nutting acted as consultant for both the 1950 Wooden Horse movie and the Great Escape of 1963. The real Great Escape started with the launch of three tunnels, “Tom”, “Dick” and “Harry,” each starting in a barrack hut, through the concrete foundations of the stove or shower because the huts themselves were elevated on stilts. “Tom” was discovered, and “Dick,” abandoned and used for hiding escape kits. All energies were concentrated on “Harry,” dug 10 meters deep to avoid German tunneling detectors and more than 100 meters long to come out in the pine forest beyond the wire. The breakout through Harry was scheduled for the no-moon night of March 24. It started with the disappointment at seeing the tunnel emerge well short of the pine forest in an open snow-covered area patrolled by German sentries. Having to wait for the sentries to pass, a power blackout and tunnel collapses slowed the throughput to barely a dozen men an hour instead of the planned one a minute. By dawn 76 POWs had got out. The next man emerged from the tunnel under the feet of the sentry. All but three were captured. Hitler was so furious at the breakout that he ordered them all shot. Eventually, Goering, head of the Luftwaffe and responsible for the prisoners, persuaded him to limit the number to more than half. Thus 50 prisoners of war were handed over to the Gestapo and killed. For the British, this had started out as a game, as the verse commemorating the tragedy makes clear: “Bloody fine fellows To prove this was done Set out for freedom, And thought it was fun.” That the Germans should not play the game by the rules — in this case the Geneva Conventions — was deeply shocking to the British, who made great efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice after the war. The Luftwaffe, which had meticulously respected the Conventions in the treatment of their prisoners, was embarrassed, allowing the POWs to build a memorial to their murdered comrades.Nutting’s scrapbook contains a sensitively drawn post-card of the fine memorial to the 50 airmen, which still stands at the camp site, now in Zagan, part of Poland. Alan Downing
Important Collectors’ Wristwatches, Pocket Watches & Clocks
13-05-2007