Fellows offers scarce British military watches Feb. 10

British military watches

Record brand military-issue ‘The Dirty Dozen’ wristwatch, numbered L17332 535179. Estimate £1,100-£1,600. Fellows image

BIRMINGHAM, UK – Fellows’ first flagship watch auction of 2020 features four military “Dirty Dozen” watches. The watches will be sold in The Watch Sale at Fellows Auctioneers, taking place Monday, Feb. 10. Bid absentee or live online through LiveAuctioneers.

The watches were designed by the British Ministry of Supply for the armed forces at the end of World War II. They developed their name following the release of The Dirty Dozen film directed by Robert Aldrich in 1967. The watches were representative of each character in film, featuring 12 soldiers during the War.

All 12 watches were all designed by different brands, and the four watches that are up for auction with Fellows include a Vertex, Cyma and two Record timepieces. Featuring back engravings and black dials, these military watches are sought-after among watch collectors. The rarity of these watches is why the full collection is so desirable.

Of the four Dirty Dozen watches up for auction, there were only 15,000 Vertex watches produced, 25,000 Record watches made and 20,000 Cyma watches made. The stainless steel watches are all stamped with the British Broad Arrow, alongside Arabic numeral hour markers and subsidiary seconds dials to six. The watches each feature “three W’s” engraved on the back – meaning watch, wrist and waterproof. Estimates of these watches range from £600-£1,600.

British military watches

Vertex brand military issue ‘The Dirty Dozen’ wristwatch, nickel-plated case with stainless steel case back, numbered A10172 3523088. Estimate £600-£800. Fellows image

“The Dirty Dozen may be known as the infamous American war film from 1967 but in watch collecting circles it is a phrase better used to describe the highly sought after twelve watches used by British soldiers in World War II. Collectively or individually, these watches are extremely sought after and collectible,” said Laura Bishop, watch manager at Fellows Auctioneers.

Bishop added, “The Ministry of Defense commissioned the production of watches for the British soldiers and 12 watch companies fulfilled the brief: Buren, Cyma, Eterna, Grana, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Lemania, Longines, IWC, Omega, Record, Timor and Vertex. In our February Watch Sale we have examples by Cyma, Record and Vertex. The watches were produced in varying amounts, a fact reflected in the different estimates placed on these examples.”

A full list of the Dirty Dozen watches in the upcoming sale can be seen below:

  • Vertex – a stainless steel military issue ‘The Dirty Dozen’ wristwatch.
  • Record – a stainless steel military issue ‘The Dirty Dozen’ wristwatch.
  • Cyma – a stainless steel military issue ‘The Dirty Dozen’ wristwatch.
  • Record – a stainless steel military issue ‘The Dirty Dozen’ wristwatch.

The auction will begin at 8 a.m. London time/2 p.m. U.S. Eastern.