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NEW YORK: A Rolex watch worn by a British prisoner during the real-life 'Great Escape' from the Nazi Stalag Luft III concentration camp is going on sale in New York.

Christie's expects the timepiece to fetch between $200,000 and $400,000 at auction on June 9.

The watch was worn by Gerald Imeson on the night of March 24, 1944 when a group of Allied soldiers undertook the daring escape that inspired the 1963 movie starring Steve McQueen.

The steel watch with a black luminous dial and hands was "instrumental in the planning and execution" of their bid for freedom, Christie's said.

Rare rough ruby goes on show in Dubai ahead of auction

The auction house said it believed Imeson's watch helped calculate the time it would take the prisoners to crawl through tunnels used in the breakout as well as timing the patrols of the camp guards.

Imeson wore the Oyster Chronograph watch as he waited 172nd in line to escape, according to Christie's.

Of the 200 prisoners who participated in the plan, 76 briefly escaped. Imeson was not among them. All but three of the men were captured and 50 were executed.

Imeson was liberated from another POW camp at the end of the war in 1945.

He wore the watch until his death in 2003 at the age of 85. It was first auctioned in Britain in 2013.

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