A mail order watch bought by a British prisoner of war and delivered to him in the Nazis’ notorious Stalag Luft III camp is expected to fetch more than £66,000 at auction tomorrow. The story of the elegant Rolex watch ordered in 1943 by Corporal Clive James Nutting casts light on an extraordinary commercial enterprise that defied the disruption of war. The camp, in what is now Zagan, Poland, was made famous by the 1963 film The Great Escape, which told the story of an imaginative but ultimately ill-fated breakout. Corporal Nutting helped to organise the escape and later advised the film-makers. He ordered the stainless steel Rolex Oyster 3525 Chronograph, which cost the equivalent of £1,200, directly from the founder of Rolex, Hans Wilsdorf, in Geneva in 1943. Mr Wilsdorf, a German, immediately arranged for the timepiece to be sent to the camp and, in a letter to Corporal Nutting, even apologised for the possible delay, making it plain that his unlikely customer should not “even think of settlement” until the war was over. Corporal Nutting eventually paid for the watch in 1948, after his return to London. However, because of British currency restrictions at the time, he was invoiced for only £15. His Rolex and the correspondence with Mr Wilsdorf over several years are to be auctioned tomorrow by the Swiss firm Antiquorum at a hotel in Geneva. It is the most expensive lot in a sale that also includes the gold pocket watch of the war-time US President Franklin D. Roosevelt and a pink gold watch that belonged to Charlie Chaplin. A spokeswoman for Antiquorum told The Times: “We have the complete documentation of the watch in question, along with the correspondence between Corporal Nutting and Mr Wilsdorf, who believed a British gentleman’s word was more than enough of a guarantee. We know Corporal Nutting was involved in the preparation of the escape and we believe that he might have used or even ordered the watch for that purpose.” A watch bought by a Canadian air force major and PoW in the same camp will also be on offer. “We are certain that Rolex and probably other watchmakers were regularly delivering to Allied PoWs, but we sadly only have solid proof for this particular case,” the spokeswoman said. Mr Wilsdorf founded Rolex in London in 1905 but then moved to Switzerland for tax reasons. According to the auction house, by accepting the unusual arrangement with the PoWs he was betting on his homeland losing the war and at the same time boosted the Allied soldiers’ morale. Clive “Nobby” Nutting worked as a cobbler in the PoW camp and was apparently able to save enough of his earnings to order the expensive watch. After the war he moved to Australia, where he died in 2001 at the age of 90.