An incredibly rare watch was sold at auction yesterday for £217,000

The Rolex Submariner 5512, with an exceptionally rare ‘3-6-9’ dial was bought by its original owner – a medical attendant at the former Shirebrook Colliery – to celebrate his 40th birthday in 1964 for around £70.

The watch was sold by the original owner’s daughter and son-in-law – who wish to remain anonymous - and auctioned at Gardiner Houlgate auctioneers in Corsham, Wiltshire yesterday. (Wednesday)

The Rolex Submariner 5512 with the Explorer 3-6-9 dial was only produced for a short period in the early 1960s - and very few survive with their original dial.

David Hare, director and auctioneer at Gardiner Houlgate in Wiltshire said: “This is the holy grail of vintage watches. There are so few of these left in their original condition that they command very high prices and are sought after by collectors all over the world. This particular watch has a version of the dial that experts call a ‘Crown-62’ variation, which makes it even rarer.”

The original owner’s son-in-law sai he had been in “a state of disbelief” about the value of this watch. He added: “Having worked all our lives to be able to enjoy retirement, this will give my wife and I the added financial security we’ve dreamt of. I imagine you’d feel like this if you had a big win on the premium bonds.”

The original owner was born in London but moved to Mansfield during the Second World War to work in the mines as part of the then government’s ‘Bevin Boys’ conscription programme. After a spell as a driver for East Midlands buses, he returned to the mines as a medical attendant. He died in 1995.

The Rolex was bought from Watches of Switzerland in London. It retains its original boxes, guarantee and service booklet.