A gold watch belonging to Adolf Hitler is coming up for auction at the end of the month. Belonging to the family of the soldier who took the watch as a ‘spoils of war’ from Hitler’s retreat at Berchtesgaden in the mountains of Bavaria, this is the first time that the watch has made a public appearance. The watch itself is an Andreas Huber reversible wristwatch in gold, most likely given to Hitler by the Nazi Party or the SA (StormTroopers, or the Nazi Party militia) on April 20, 1933, when on his 44th birthday the dictator was named with former Chancellor Paul von Hindenburg, an honorary citizen of Bavaria.
The watch is question is a reversible piece, strongly resembling a Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso, though the brand has denied having any record of the creation of the watch. This is due to the fact that Huber commissioned the creation of different parts of the watch via sub-contractors, and later assembled it. Also, all wartime documents from Huber were lost when their factory was bombed and burned down in 1944.
The yellow gold watch has a black lacquer dial signed ‘HUBER’ at 12 o’clock, applied gold indexes, and a chemin de fer design on the edges, along with sword shaped hour and minute hands. A small second counter rests at six o'clock. Turning the dial over is where its link to Hitler become apparent. There is a polychrome engraving, lacquered in red, white, and black with swastika signature surrounded with oak leaves along with the Nazi’s first eagle. Below this feature the initials ‘AH’ in a black lacquered background. Another unique feature of this watch is that it bears three dates: 20.4.89 – 30.1.33 - 5.3.33. The first date is Hitler’s birthdate, the second is when he was appointed as German Chancellor, and the last date commemorates the dates of the federal elections in German, when he got full power. The watch comes on a black lizard strap with an 18K gold pin buckle system.
The movement inside is a 1932 Calibre 410-11U, a Jaeger-LeCoultre movement, although any trace of it being so has been removed and the only signature the movement bears is ‘A. Huber’. Jaeger-LeCoultre has stated that even for the movement, it does not have A Huber listed as a client in its archives. The yellow gold case is numbered ‘2951’, the white gold supporting frame is numbered ‘2939’, which further goes to prove that the its creation happened at the hands of two different sub-contractors. The supporting case bears a Swiss ‘key’ and a German gold hallmark, the former indicating Swiss manufacture of the frame, and the latter its export to Germany where it was again hallmarked as required by law.
Alexander Historical Auctions states that the watch is in exceptional condition, having largely been confined to a safe for 75 years.
Looking at the watch definitely begets the question regarding its design and the intellectual copyrights of it. On its part Andreas Huber, a watchmaker and retail store in Germany (also the official supplier of watches to the Royal Court of Bavaria and to the military), regularly assembled watches whose parts has been supplied by other watchmakers. Alexander Historical Auctions’ press release states that “from the 1930s, on, Huber developed several brands including Nautica and Secura, marketed several renowned brands, and certain large houses such as Universal Genève, Movado, Cyma, IWC agreed to deliver high-end movements and sometimes even watches complete with dials already signed ‘HUBER’ by these suppliers.” In 1944, the Huber factory was totally destroyed during a bombardment. The brand however is still alive today, brought over by Bucherer in 2002.
Alexander historical Auctions
, established in 1991, is based in Chesapeake City, Maryland, specialises in historic autographs, documents, and photographs and important historical relics.
While a bidding for the watch starts on 28th July 2022 at US $ 1 million, the watch has an estimate of US $ 2 million-4 million. Bidding can be done online.
Images: Courtesy Alexander Historical Auctions