In this instance, it’s not the famous 1967 movie starring Lee Marvin and his band of 12 condemned soldiers who undertake a daring mission in Nazi-occupied France, but one of a group of 12 collectable watches commissioned by the British Ministry of Defence to be durable, accurate and reliable, which were named the ‘Dirty Dozen’.
The watch, made by Cyma, is expected to fetch between £800 to £1,200 when it’s sold at Halls Fine Art’s silver, jewellery and watches auction in Shrewsbury on January 17.
The ‘Dirty Dozen’ watches were produced by 12 different Swiss manufacturers for the British armed forces during World War II. The chosen manufacturers were Buren, Cyma, Eterna, Grana, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Lemania, Longines, IWC, Omega, Record, Timor and Vertex.
These watches, which bear the initials W.W.W (Watch Wrist Waterproof) on the back, are said to have influenced brand designs since the 1940s and have become highly sought after by collectors around the world.
Having the complete set of 12 watches, which have serial numbers relating to branch of the military they were issued to, is the Holy Grail for avid military collectors. There is believed to be only a small number of compete sets in existence.
“Some of the manufacturers produced several thousand watches, which look very similar, whilst others are much rarer and hence are much more valuable,” explained Alexander Clement, Halls Fine Art’s watches specialist. “The one we have in the January 17 sale belongs to a retired collector from Oswestry and we expect it to attract a lot of interest.”