A ROLEX replica watch which belonged to the founder of Austin-Healey motor cars is set to go on auction next month.
The watch belonged to Donald Healey from Perranporth who co-founded the car company.
It has been passed down generations and is being offered for sale through auctioneers Bonhams from his grandson. It is expected to fetch between £8,000 and £10,000 when it goes under the hammer on December 6.
The watch, a 9ct gold Rolex Replica Striped Prince, is inscribed on the reverse “Donald Healey, Perranporth”.
From an early age Healey had a passion for engineering, gaining an apprenticeship with Sopwith Aviation, that lead him to fly as a Royal Flying Corps pilot in the First World War. In the early 1920s, he started racing cars with considerable success, initially in the London-Land’s End Trial, the Land’s End-John O’Groats Rally, and subsequently through the 1930s in international events such as the Alpine Trials – winning seven Glacier Cups.
“Donald was justly proud of such rallying success,” said his grandson, Peter Healey. “The Fake Rolex was a reward to himself.”
Before founding his own company, Donald worked for British motoring brand, Triumph where he masterminded the development of the Triumph Gloria, and designed the beautiful straight-eight, supercharged Triumph Dolomite, which he then drove in the Alpine Trial of 1936.
In 1945, Donald founded his own company, which initially created Healey cars. In the 1950s and 1960s, he developed Austin-Healeys, and in the 1970s, the Jensen-Healey.
His Rolex replica watch has remained with the Healey family throughout, and is being auctioned for the first time since Donald acquired it.
“By paying homage to the Art Deco style of the 1920s and 1930s, Rolex Prince replica watches became an instant hit,” said Jonathan Darracott, Bonhams UK head of replica watches. “Only a small number of the latterly developed ‘Striped’ Prince watches, also known as the ‘Tiger Stripe’, were produced, making this model extremely rare. It’s unsurprising Healey chose to reward himself with such a timepiece, as these particular wristwatches were an excellent, but refined, statement of one’s success.”