Auction News

£20k estimate for top-rated “Dirty Dozen” watch


The Ministry of Defence building London.

The Dirty Dozen are a collection of military watches designed for the British Ministry of Defence. Two examples are being auctioned in London next Wednesday, February 21 with a rare Grana watch expected to realise over as much as £20,000.

The Dirty Dozen were assembled in 1945. Their mission? To design watches suitable for British forces. That meant timepieces that could go into battle, into the water, to high altitudes and more.

The military authorities arrayed a choice of 12 makers: Omega, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Longines, Buren, Cyma, Eterna, Grana, Lemania, Record, Timor, and Vertex.

The watches these makers submitted are now called The Dirty Dozen.

Some models were produced in the huge numbers you would expect for a government military contract. Omega are believed to have made over 100,000 watches.

Others were more select and are now the most valuable among this very collectible set of watches.

The 1945 Grana is a beautiful essay in function and form.

The 1945 Grana to be sold next week is one of the rarest.

It is manually wound with a stainless-steel case. The black dial has a small second dial for seconds at 6 O clock on the main dial.

The design brief was functional, so all of these watches have black dials with simple Arabic numerals. The hands are luminescent.

An upward pointing arrow on the dials is a pheon, used to mark Government property.

There were as few as 1,000 and as many as 5,000 of this watch produced.

That explains the very healthy estimate of £15,000 to £20,000 ($18,900 to $25,200) on this watch.

It is joined on the block by a Jaeger LeCoultre. It is less rare, but has the same sleek and functional beauty as the Grana, and is likely to make around £2,000 according to the estimates.

Charles Dower, of Bonhams, said: “It is a rarity to offer watch aficionados two impeccable designs from horological history, a Grana and a Jaeger LeCoultre from the Dirty Dozen series.,

“These watches never cease to fascinate watch enthusiasts across the globe.”

The sale, which also includes two 1920s German Air Force watches, takes place in London on February 21.

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