Rare Second World War German Luftwaffe pilot's watch found in Coventry - The Coventry Observer

7th Aug, 2022

Rare Second World War German Luftwaffe pilot's watch found in Coventry

Tristan Harris 29th Jul, 2022 Updated: 29th Jul, 2022

A VALUABLE German Luftwaffe watch from the Second World War has been found in a drawer at a house in Coventry after 75 years.

The military timepiece was discovered by a family when sorting through their late father’s possessions and is expected to fetch more than £7,000 when it goes under the hammer in Birmingham on Sunday, August 7.

The family had no idea the watch existed, let alone its value.

A quick online search online took them to the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham to see watch specialist auctioneers Fellows.

The watch came from William Albert Holyoake, known to his friends and family as Bill, who rarely spoke of his wartime overseas to his family.

He never told them about the watch head which had sat hidden in the drawer, among other German military keepsakes.

It was only after he passed his family discovered treasures locked in his desk drawer that he had put there on his return to England in 1947.

The A Lange and Söhne German military issue pilot watch head, made circa 1942, is housed in a stainless-steel case and has a signed manual wind movement.

A Lange and Söhne produced 6,904 Beobachtungs-uhren (B–Uhren) from 1940 to 1945.

The aviation watches made in this time are large – this one is 55mm and has a type B dial with luminous Arabic numeral hour markers.

The watch’s large size and luminous markers made it a very useful piece for German aviators, especially when flying at night.

Pilots would set their watch to the German Naval Observatory standard time after receiving a signal beep from the airbase.

For their missions, accuracy was of paramount importance to the Luftwaffe.

Pilots were issued a watch before each mission and returned it on completion. They were not held as part of their uniform so few were retained after the war and passed on. For this reason, they in scarce supply and therefore valuable.

William Holyoake enlisted for military service on August 30, 1944, in The Royal Engineers and was assigned to the 15th Field Park Squadron as a sapper.

It was from his time in Central Europe during and in the aftermath of the Second World War he acquired various items of interest.

As a young man, Holyoake had been an apprentice at Alfred Herbert Ltd.

It was one of the world’s largest machine tool manufacturing businesses at the time.

After his service in Europe during the Second World War, he returned to Coventry – his home city – to work as an engineer with The British Aerospace group (previously the companies Armstrong Whitworth and Hawker Siddeley).

He worked on multiple military projects such as the Avro Vulcan bomber and Hawker Hunter jet fighter aircraft (used by the Red Arrows display team).

In his later life he volunteered as woodworking and metalworking tutor, sharing his skills with people with visual impairments.

Watch Cataloguer Kain Holroyd said: “From the initial contact with the Holyoake family this consignment has taken so many positive turns.

“We were firstly not aware to which of the four German B-Uhren brands this particular watch head belonged.

“Opening the case back to find that it was an A Lange and Söhne was one thing, but to have such a story to go with the watch head as well

as photos of Mr Holyoake was the ‘cherry on top’.

“It was an enjoyable experience and I look forward to it achieving a great price.”


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