HITLER'S GOLD WATCH LOOTED AFTER THE WAR HEADS TO AUCTION
A gold Andreas Huber reversible wristwatch, given to Adolf Hitler himself and looted by a French soldier is set to fetch more than £3million at auction..
The timepiece, which was manufactured by Swiss luxury watchmaker LeCoultre, and features the Nazi leader's initials, the Swastika and the German imperial eagle is being offered for sale by Alexander Historical Auctions, a company that specialises in historically significant items, with a pre-sale estimate of $2 to $4 million.
This incredible watch has an unwavering direct provenance from a French soldier who seized the watch as ‘spoils of war' on Friday May 4, 1945, when his unit became the first Allied force to arrive at Hitler's retreat at Berchtesgaden in the mountains of Bavaria.
The watch and its history have been researched by some of the world's most experienced and respected watchmakers and military historians, all of whom have concluded that it is authentic and indeed belonged to Adolf Hitler.
The watch carries a movement originally made by LeCoultre, and a case made by a subcontractor, the assembled combination being reversible, allowing the entire case to be rotated 180 degrees to protect the watch face when desired or simply to display the engraving. The body supporting the rotating case bears a Swiss "key" hallmark and a German gold hallmark. The yellow gold case is numbered "2951", the white gold support frame is numbered "2939". Clearly, the frame was subcontracted to another Swiss manufacturer, probably in La Chaux de Fonds. The close difference between the serial numbers seems to indicate very similar dates of manufacture. The watch is fitted with a black lizard strap with an 18K gold pin buckle. The mechanical movement is a hand-wound LeCoultre caliber no. 410-11U, numbered "12755", manufactured by the LeCoultre establishment in December 1932. The dimensions of the watch are 23 x 38 mm. with the lugs, 23 x 33 mm. without the lugs, thickness 8 mm. The gross weight of the watch is 41.48 grams. The front of the watch has a black dial bearing the name "HUBER" painted in black lacquer with applied indexes in gold and a "railway" design also painted all around the dial as well as around the second counter at six o'clock. Golden sword-shaped hour and minute hands are present.
The reverse of the watch links this piece directly to Adolf Hitler and the N.S.D.A.P. On the back of the yellow gold case appears a polychrome engraving, lacquered in red, white and black, presenting a swastika surmounted by an engraving of the first Nazi eagle (a "Reichsadler") and a mobile (or inclined) swastika surrounded by a wreath of oak leaves. Appearing below are two art deco initials "A H", lacquered black. This is a so-called negative execution in which previously hollowed-out letters have been filled with black lacquer. The swastika is surrounded by three dates: "20.4.89-30.1.33-5.3.33". The first date (20.4.89) corresponds to Hitler's date of birth in Braunau Am Inn, Austria. The second date (30.1.33) marks the date of his appointment as Chancellor of Germany, when Field Marshal Paul Von Hindenburg asked Hitler, leader of the NSDAP, to form a new German government. The third date (5.3.33) celebrates the date of the federal elections in Germany which gave Hitler access to full power.
The watch was acquired when on May 4, 1945, about thirty French soldiers belonging to the Regiment de Marche du Tchad, a unit of the 2nd Armored Division commanded by the brilliant General Philippe Leclerc, stormed the Berghof, barely ahead of the American troops of the 3rd Armored Division. Among the members of this unit was Sergeant Robert Mignot who with his comrades quickly gained access to Hitler's secondary residence and the Eagle's Nest, both abandoned by all the occupants and guards. They also discovered the vast system of tunnels and bunkers under the house. This is probably where this watch – and other valuables – were found and taken away by the French as war souvenirs. Reports written at the time, contemporary documents and diaries, as well as statements from veterans, clearly show that these French soldiers certainly had ample time on the spot to hunt for any ‘spoils of war' they could find, limited only by what they could carry in their backpacks. Of course, items marked with Hitler's name were considered the best prizes, and many of these historic relics have come to market in the intervening years. Sergeant Mignot returned to France with the watch and resold it over time to his cousin, our consignor's grandfather. It has remained in the exclusive possession of the Mignot family and that of our consignor since its discovery and has never been offered for sale before. Sergeant Robert Mignot's service record with the 2nd Armored Division is also fully documented with records, documents, photographs and a statement from a fellow soldier, with copies available to potential bidders. A detailed letter of provenance from Mignot's daughter is also present.
Jaeger-LeCoultre advises it has no production records regarding this watch. No wartime documents can be obtained from Andreas Huber – their factory was bombed and subsequently burned down during World War II.
This historic relic will be offered for sale without reserve on 28th July, for more information visit: Alexander Historical Auctions