The Sea and Silver watch is a timepiece like no other. Its history is unique and etched into a World War II tale involving Saudi-Arabian, the USA and Germany, making it not just an item of pure beauty but rareness too.
Forged from the exclusive riyal coins, of which there are only 7,000 in existence, Sea and Silver watches are incredibly limited and represent a piece of Saudi-Arabia’s past. Only a select few prestigious owners have one of the remaining riyals:
- HRH Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz
- Bill gates,
- His Majesty the King of Sweden
- His excellency the prime minister of Japan.
The story of this exclusive timepiece begins in the early 20th century, with the Sultan of Najd Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al-Saud.
Saudi Arabian Prosperity
King Abdulaziz Al Saud created his legend in the early 1900s for pursing and unifying parts of the Arabian Peninsula through military conflict. By 1932, he was the ruler of most of central Arabia.
His legend is not just for binding the region together as King Abdulaziz was influential in modernising the countries by leading the discovery of petroleum and the international sale of oil. As a result, King Abdulaziz Al Saud brought prosperity to Saudi Arabia.
But, during the height of World War II in 1944, the King ordered 3 million silver one riyal coins to be mined in the USA and transported to Saudi Arabia as part of a trade deal with the Saudi Arabian Oil Company. As Saudi Arabia did not use paper money, unlike other nations, the riyal coins were extremely valuable and would have paid for workers on oil refineries across Saudi Arabia.
The crew in charge of transporting the riyal coins were on board the SS John Barry, a World War II American Liberty ship. All the contents stored on the John Barry remained secret due to its expensive and valuable cargo.
Bottom of the Arabian Sea
As the boat was travelling off the coast of Oman, a prowling German U-Boat attacked the American vessel. A torpedo ripped through the John Barry and it sunk along with the lavish 3 million-riyal coins, which sunk to the bottom of the Arabian Sea.
Here the rare coins remained for over 40 years until Skeikh Ahmed Farid al Aulaqi was granted salvage rights to recover the sunken cargo. The task of recovering the riyal coins was placed in the hands of ‘Blue Water Recoveries’, a British expedition, who undertook a daring and brave mission to retrieve the coins.
It was a successful recovery and 80,000 of the coins were retrieved from the site, nearly 8,500 feet below the surface, and returned to Saudi Arabia. However, not all the coins remained in circulation and the majority were smelted. Only 7,000 were purchased by a collector of Arabian historical artefacts, who made the coins valuable, timeless and collectable items.
Some of the coins still in existence were crafted into Sea and Silver watches. At the heart of each timepiece is the historic, silver riyal coin, which has been manufactured along with Swiss watchmakers to create a truly authentic, limited watch.