April 5, 2022 5.00 pm

Retired teacher set to earn thousands from forgotten watch thanks to Antiques Roadshow

He saw one of ‘The Dirty Dozen’ on Antiques Roadshow and realised he had one himself

A retired man from North Lincolnshire is about to hit the jackpot after an episode of Antiques Roadshow taught him that a wristwatch in his house was the “holy grail” of military watches, worth over £10,000.

The programme was recorded at the Ulster Folk Museum, and saw the show’s horological expert Richard Price explain to the owner the importance of a wartime Omega watch they had brought in.

It was one of ‘The Dirty Dozen’, which were wristwatches commissioned for the military by the War Office during the Second World War, created by twelve specially chosen manufacturers.

The Omega was valued at £2,500 on the programme, as Richard stated that the rarest of ‘The Dirty Dozen’ was the Grana, described as the “holy grail” of the twelve watches.

Auctioneer James Laverack showcasing the Grana watch, the rarest of ‘The Dirty Dozen’ from WW2. | Photo: John Taylors

Watching this edition of Antiques Roadshow, a retired schoolteacher from North Lincolnshire realised that an old watch he had lying around in a drawer at his home for decades fit the profile of the Grana, which prompted him to send it off for auction.

The wristwatch was in amongst odd bits and bobs in a drawer at home, it now looks set to earn this lucky man over £10,000.

The watch is to go under the hammer at John Taylors auction rooms in Louth on Tuesday, April 12 and has a pre-sale estimate of £13,000-£15,000.

Auctioneer James Laverack said: “It’s thought that 145,000 – 150,000 watches were manufactured as a result of the wartime contracts. Most of the chosen firms supplied at least 10,000. Omega hit 25,000. Grana made the smallest number, perhaps as few as a thousand.

“Dirty Dozen collectors dream of completing a full set. Only twenty are known to have made it so far – and that’s entirely down to the rarity of the Grana.”

James added: “The discovery of this watch has been something of a miracle. The retired teacher actually missed the transmission of the Ulster Antiques Roadshow a few weeks ago but – a real stroke of luck – he decided to view it later.

“He knew nothing about the Dirty Dozen nor just how rare the watch is. I think it’s fair to say that he was quite pleased when we told him what we expect it to make.”