1946 Rolex Pre-Daytona Chronograph (Ref. 3525) "POW" W/ Original Owner Military Mess Card
Produced during the 1940s, the Rolex Pre-Daytona Chronograph reference 3525 is nicknamed the “Prisoner of War” or “POW” due to the fact that it was one of the models made available to captured Allied soldiers during World War II. While most Swiss watch brands maintained neutrality during the war, Rolex famously supported the Allied forces and even provided timepieces to captured Allied troops in POW camps, who had their previous watches confiscated from them. Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf personally oversaw a program in which detained troops could write to Rolex and request a wristwatch that would be sent to them entirely on the honor system, with no payment required whatsoever until after the war.
While a handful of different Rolex models were provided to the Allied prisoners of war, easily the most famous is the Rolex Oyster Chronograph ref. 3525. Fitted with a manual-wind Valjoux movement, the reference 3525 features a two-register chronograph layout with both tachymeter and telemeter scales printed along the periphery of its dial. The ability to precisely measure time was invaluable to captured Allied forces, and Rolex ref. 3525 chronograph watches were famously used by the soldiers who escaped the German Stalag Luft III POW camp, which later served as the inspiration for the 1963 Steve McQueen Film, The Great Escape. This particular example comes with military provenance and is accompanied by the official army-issued mess card from its original owner, who was required to present it in order to be served meals during the war.
|Bracelet||Gay Freres Stretch Rivet Bracelet|
The original 35mm stainless steel case is in excellent overall condition with thick lugs, well-defined lines, and only small marks and dings that are highly consistent with a timepiece of this age. While you will also find examples of the ref. 3525 chronograph is both two-tone and solid gold, it is technically only the stainless steel examples that are officially known by the “Prisoner of War” nickname, as these were the ones that were sent to the soldiers in POW camps during WWII. Completing the watch is a circa-appropriate stainless steel Gay Freres stretch rivet bracelet.
The original white dial is in honest and well-preserved condition, with only small blemishes in its finish that are highly consistent with a timepiece produced during the mid-1940s. While some of the dials and hands that were installed on Rolex Oyster Chronograph ref. 3525 watches were finished with radium lume, the versions fitted to this particular example are gold-finished, and therefore do not exhibit the degradation that is often found on surviving examples with radium-finished components. While the hands and hour markers do show minor signs of oxidation, they are in excellent overall condition and nicely compliment the patina on the dial
Included with the watch is the official army-issued mess card from its original owner, who was required to present it in order to be served meals during the war.