GENEVA – Seventy years after the end of World War II, a watch worn by legendary U.S. five-star Gen. Douglas MacArthur was sold at auction Sunday for 70,000 Swiss francs ($75,000), far above the estimate.
The steel Jaeger-Lecoultre “Reverso” watch — a classic model in which the dial can be flipped to protect the glass front from shocks — was the star offering at Sunday’s Antiquorum auction in Geneva, streamed live on the Internet.
The watch, made in 1937 and bought in Geneva, has MacArthur’s initials on the back and was put up for sale by his direct descendants.
The model in question — a rectangular 23 mm X 38 mm watch — is still being manufactured today.
“It represents a unique opportunity for collectors to acquire an important piece of world history that belonged to one of the great American military heroes of all time,” Antiquorum head Evan Zimmermann said ahead of the sale.
Antiquorum had placed a pre-auction estimate of 10,000-20,000 Swiss francs on the historic timepiece.
The buyer will pay a commission equivalent to 25 percent of the sale price.
Raised in a military family, MacArthur was chief of staff of the U.S. Army in the 1930s and was called on to defend the Philippines against the Japanese during World War II.
Although he was forced to flee to Australia, he fulfilled a promise to return to the Philippines and officially accepted Japan’s surrender on Sept. 2, 1945.