Just when I thought there weren’t anymore crazy stories involving cheap replica Rolex watches, another one pops up. A few weeks ago, a steamship sunk by the Germans during WWII was salvaged, resulting in the discovery of 100 tons of silver. While the haul is truly impressive – especially considering the sunken ship’s depth of 17,000 feet – what got our attention was the story behind the sinking itself.
The SS City of Cairo was a large steamship that had been in service for almost 30 years when it made its last voyage in 1942. Like many other civilian ships during WWII, it was called upon by the military to help out with the war effort. Starting from Bombay, the City of Cairo was on its way to South Africa and Brazil before reaching its final destination of the UK. Just prior to setting sail, the SS City of Cairo was tasked with transporting 100 tons of silver, as well as some miscellaneous military equipment and crewmen in addition to its regular load of civilian passengers and cargo.
As the SS City of Cairo was about halfway across the South Atlantic, on course for Brazil, it was torpedoed by Kapitän Karl-Friedrich Merten of U-68. Knowing the boat was slowly taking on water, SS City of Cairo captain, William Rogerson, ordered the passengers and crew to the lifeboats. After distress signals and callsigns were exchanged between City of Cairo and U-68, Kapitän Merten sent the second torpedo. Six people aboard the ship died from the second torpedo, but the remaining 296 had divided themselves up amongst the six available lifeboats.
Kapitän Merten gave the lifeboats their potential courses for reaching land, none of which were very promising. Brazil, where the SS City of Cairo had been heading, was still 2,000 miles west, Africa was 1,000 miles east, and the small South Atlantic island of St. Helena was 500 miles northeast. Before leaving the stranded survivors to their navigational decisions, Merten spoke his now famous phrase, “Goodnight, and sorry for sinking you.”
Captain Rogerson chose St. Helena as their new destination, and so the six boats set off. Each boat was outfitted with a compass; however, only one boat had a sextant. A compass is really only useful if you know where you are, which is where the sextant plays its part. The third piece of the navigational puzzle is knowing the correct time. Celestial navigation relies on correctly understanding the time of day, which, combined with the sextant reading and celestial tables, can determine current latitude and longitude. Luckily for the lifeboat passengers, Captain Rogerson was wearing his trusty sale fake Rolex Oyster watches online. Accurate readings would be vital for navigating 500 miles to a small island in a large ocean – literally every second off could mean sending the lifeboats on the wrong heading.
Over the next two weeks, several of the lifeboats would disperse and lose contact with the rest of the group. Finally, 13 days after sinking, the SS Clan Alpine found Captain Rogerson’s lifeboat, along with two others. Heading to port at St. Helena, the Clan Alpine continued searching – albeit, with no luck – for the remaining lifeboats. The rest of the lifeboats were eventually found, with the last one having been at sea for an incredible 51 days.
Of the roughly 300 passengers who began the SS City of Cairo’s fateful journey, 107 perished. The 200 survivors had nautical knowhow, a reliable cheap fake Rolex watches, and sheer will to thank for making it safely back to land. Several of the members were recognized by the British government, including an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE), given to Captain Rogerson.
I’d like to quickly thank Taylor Zajonc of Expedition Writer, and Hugh McLean of SS City of Cairo for working with me on this story. This is truly the kind of story that drives our love of watches at Wound For Life. We are currently trying to track down more info on the specific luxury replica Rolex watches onilne reference worn by Captain Rogerson, and will update the article if it leads to anything solid.