Cold War Spy Device Disguised As Watch Up For Auction At Fellows
An incredible espionage device disguised as a watch which was created during the Cold War is set to sell at Fellows Auctioneers in December. The artefact, manufactured in the 1950s, includes an inbuilt hidden microphone and wire attachment, making it perfect for eavesdropping. German company Protona created the watch with the Minifon covert wire microphone attachment to assist secret services. These became available to the American market shortly after production. Now, featuring as Lot 433, the watch could fetch hundreds in Fellows Auctioneers’ sale of Online Watches & Watch Accessories on Tuesday 8th December.
The Protona spy device has an estimate of £140 – £200 and was cleverly created as a chronograph wrist watch. The edge of the watch includes an insert with a wire which can be placed and pulled through the sleeve of an individual, whilst being totally disguised to others. The wire would then connect to a recording device which would be placed and concealed over the shoulder of the wearer. The portable device could simply pick up voices with a one-hour recording time.
This quirky piece of espionage was specifically marketed at the time for police departments and intelligence organisations. The watch up for auction at Fellows has a stainless-steel case and a silvered dial. It is also fitted to a brown leather strap and a gold-plated pin buckle. Measuring 40mm, the design of the watch element of the device looks no different to that of a vintage timepiece.
Laura Bishop, Watch Manager at Fellows Auctioneers, said: “This is the perfect opportunity to own a fascinating piece of espionage and an intriguing watch combined. I can only imagine some of the conversations that this device might have recorded. We have been unable to gain access to the movement of the watch to find out its exact condition, however the dial is intact with no visible marks. History and watch enthusiasts alike won’t want to miss this one. I’m sure it will fly above its estimate.”
The Online Watches & Watch Accessories sale on 8th December will be Fellows’ final auction of timepieces in 2020. The sale is live now, operated in a timed format, and bids can be placed right up until the lot closes on the day. Virtual viewings can also be booked for the timepiece by contacting the auction house. Fellows’ previous timed auctions in the last year have broken house records, seeing a high number of items sold and many hundreds of customers registered to bid for each sale.