People of power and renown often are associated with a particular watch. Vice President Gerald Ford and the Pulsar. Fidel Castro and Rolex. As far as chroniclers are aware, German Führer Adolf Hitler wasn’t a watch lover and never wore a notable timepiece. That said, we know something about Hitler’s watch . . .
Hitler was known to wear a gold-cased pocket watch of unknown origin. He seldom consulted it, as he was constantly surrounded by men who were more than willing to tell him the time.
Click here and look at this clip. It’s the only known image of Hitler consulting a watch. He pulls it from his top pocket.
Note the embarrassment of the officer talking to Hitler; the subaltern is unable to reach for his wristwatch quickly enough to tell his Führer the time. The Swastika-wearing follower to Hitler’s right also automatically consults his watch.
What happened to Hitler’s watch? There’s a revealing passage in the autobiography of Hitler’s assistant, Rochus Misch (top of post and above).
Misch was the last living survivor of the Führerbunker in the final days of the war in Europe. On page 178 of his book Hitler’s Last Witness, Misch recalls Heinz Linge (another of Hitler’s valets, below) throwing a watch away after they’d been captured by the Russians.
According to Misch, Linge says, “There it goes the boss’ watch!” Misch wasn’t sure whether Linge was referring to Hitler’s own watch or one Hitler had given Linge. In his book With Hitler to the End: The Memoirs of Adolf Hitler’s Valet, Linge said that the watch was his own.
Misch destroyed his own wristwatch: a limited edition of 2000 [unknown brand watches] made for the Foreign Ministry as a gift for guests, presented to him by Nazi Diplomat Walthar Hewel.
Misch killed his watch so “the Russians would not have it.” Russian soldiers routinely “confiscated” the watches of prisoners and civilians, and looted watches from the bodies of fallen enemies.
[ED: Day mne svoi chasy – “give me your watch” – were the first Russian words my father learned.]
If Hitler was wearing a watch when he committed suicide, one of the Soviet soldiers who discovered the Führer’s body would have removed it, kept it for himself or sold it. It doesn’t sound likely, but he might have surrendered it to Soviet officials – where it was destroyed or locked away.
Whatever happened to Hitler’s watch, the watches he gave others are still in circulation. Nazis considered a watch from the Fuhrer the most precious honorary gift. Presented to close confidantes, the watches were generally gold A. Lange & Söhne timepieces, supplied by Berlin jewelers A. Lünser.
When Hitler’s gift watches come up from auction, they sell for big money. (The auction houses involved often scrub their websites of images and listings after their sale.)
In 2007, the A. Lange & Sohne pocket watch Hitler gave to his personal physician Dr Theodor Gilbert Morell in 1944 (above) sold for $70k.
The diamond encrusted timepiece has a dedication on the back: “On February 6, 1939. With all my heart. A. Hitler.” I don’t know what disturbs me most in these simple words – possibly the signature, by name and surname.
The Nazi regime depended on Swiss and German wristwatches to coordinate their annihilation of gypsies, communists, homosexuals, mentally ill and Europe’s Jews (amongst many others). Their leader did not.