April 13, 2022 8.00 pm

Rarest ‘Dirty Dozen’ watch owned by retired teacher sells for £12k at auction

The “holy grail” watch was sat in his drawer for decades

A retired schoolteacher from North Lincolnshire has Antiques Roadshow to thank as he secured £12,000 at auction for a military watch described as the “holy grail”.

The wartime Grana watch went under the hammer at John Taylors auction rooms in Louth on Tuesday, selling for £12,000 – not bad considering it had spent years in a bits and bobs drawer at the home of a retired Scunthorpe teacher.

The owner of the watch was made aware of its value while watching an episode of the BBC programme Antiques Roadshow, where horological expert Richard Price talked about a wartime Omega watch being part of what’s know as ‘The Dirty Dozen’.

During the Second World War, twelve wristwatches were commissioned for the military by the War Office, created by specially chosen manufacturers and being given the name of ‘The Dirty Dozen’.

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

Of those twelve watches, the Grana is the rarest of them all, described as the “holy grail” of military watches, and the former teacher recovered it from his drawer and sent it off to auction.

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.”

The previous owner of the Grana can now enjoy being £12,000 richer thanks to the auction at John Taylors, who described it as a rare discovery for Lincolnshire.