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Thursday, 21 February, 2002, 11:30 GMT
Titanic timepiece sold
The Titanic setting sail from Southampton in 1912
The Titanic's fatal voyage took place in 1912
A watch which froze in time as its owner plunged from the Titanic into the icy Atlantic waters is expected to fetch up to 25,000 at auction.

The hands of the gold-plated Waltham watch, rescued from the body of John Gill, 24, have remained permanently at 3.21.

That was the moment eyewitnesses reported the "unsinkable" vessel disappearing under the ocean.

Passed on through Mr Gill's family, the watch was fitted with a new mechanism and dial, but the original dial was kept and has remained at the same time to mark the sinking which killed 1,521 people.

Watch from the Titanic
The watch could fetch up to 25,000

Now the pocket watch and other items owned by Mr Gill are to go under the hammer at the British Titanic Society Convention where Wiltshire-based auctioneers Henry Aldridge and Son claim they could fetch a world record for Titanic memorabilia.

"In my opinion it's the most significant and most complete collection ever offered," Andrew Aldridge said.

"Mr Gill had been asleep in his cabin and must have tried to escape from the ship.

Time zone

"He must have gone in to the water at about 2.18 am and the watch must have stopped three minutes later when the Titanic was last seen.

"Because the ship had just crossed a time zone, he wouldn't have changed his watch back an hour."

The stern of the Titanic, the final part of the 882-foot-long to sink from sight, was last seen at 2.20 am on 15 April 1912.

New life

Mr Gill, a chauffeur from Clevedon, had married wife Sarah two months earlier on Valentine's Day but had set out alone to America, having bought a second class ticket for 13, to start a new life for them.

His body was pulled from the water on 23 April and the watch and other items including coins, a comb and a collar stud were recovered.

Both the watch and the mechanism were kept by the family until last year when they were auctioned under one lot with other mementoes.

The items are to be auctioned at the British Titanic Society Convention in Southampton on 12 April.

Click here to go to BBC Wiltshire

Click here to go to Southampton
See also:

16 Sep 01 | Northern Ireland
Titanic deckchair fetches 30,000
26 Jul 01 | UK
Outcry over Titanic wedding
15 Apr 00 | Northern Ireland
Titanic survivor's watch not sold
25 Sep 01 | England
Sale takes the Titanic biscuit
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