Adventurer's watch is up for auction in Newcastle

A Watch  which belonged to a pioneering cameraman and adventurer who worked on films from James Bond to Tarka the Otter is to be auctioned on Tyneside.

The Rolex Oyster Perpetual GMT-Master automatic wristwatch was owned by John “Slim” MacDonnell, who died last year, aged 72.

It is expected to fetch between £3,000-£4,000 when it is sold by Anderson and Garland in Newcastle on March 26.

Slim MacDonnell was a pioneer of camera equipment for filming in difficult and dangerous environments, on land, underwater and in the air.

One of the first to recognise the potential of lightweight minicams, he adapted them for uses including in a helmet for Formula One racing drivers, in divers’ headgear, and in hot air balloons that carried Sir Richard Branson and the American adventurer Steve Fossett on their exploits across the world.

The adventurer was involved with films such as James Bond’s Octopussy and was responsible for many of the underwater sequences in the film Tarka the Otter.

He flew fixed wing and helicopter aircraft, worked as a deep sea diver and parachuted out of planes, frequently with lightweight mini-cams attached to helmets, button holes and headgear, each boxed within specialised housings to protect them.

A member of the diving team at Donald Campbell’s fateful run in Bluebird on Coniston in the Laker District in 1967, he was one of the first to go into the water to retrieve whatever could be found.

He worked as underwater cameraman with Roland Morris, who discovered the wreck of Colossus, one of Nelson’s warships, which sank off the Isles of Scilly in 1798 with Sir William Hamilton’s priceless collection of Etruscan vases and paintings.

MacDonnell went on to film many more underwater wrecks, including the German Fleet at Scapa Flow in Orkney.

The watch is being sold by its current owner David Bradshaw from Riding Mill in Northumberland. who said: “John MacDonnell had an amazing life, experiencing things many of us could only dream of. It has been a pleasure to wear a watch previously owned by such an adventurer and my hope is that it now goes to a collector who will look after it and treasure it as the piece deserves to be.”

Julian Thomson at Anderson and Garland said: “There are times when certain lots come in and you just know that they will catch the attention of the public as well as private collectors and this is one of them.

“Many people will recognise Slim MacDonnell’s name from some of his more high profile exploits and he really was an incredible inventor and adventurer who lived life to the full. We expect the Rolex to generate a lot of interest.”

Via The Journal



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