Only a few hundred of the specially commissioned Breitling spy watches are currently in circulation.
Only a few hundred of the special Breitling spy watches are currently in circulation. Reuters

A former MI5 agent has caused consternation within the UK secret service after putting a watch made especially for the spy agency up for sale on eBay.

The British ex-spy put the Breitling watch on the online auction site in a bid to raise money after losing his job with MI5 three years ago.

Breitling was commissioned by MI5 to make 900 Super-ocean Steelfish watches in 2009 to commemorate the agency's centenary.

The watches, which cost around £1,000 each, had the number six replaced with a five, and the MI5 crest "Regnum Defende" (Defend the Realm) inscribed on the face.

The watch was only available for sale to MI5's 4,000 staff, and it is believed that there are only a few hundred of the items currently in circulation. The watches have also never been displayed in public.

Breitling Super Ocean MI5 edition
The special edition Breitling watch, as advertised on eBay eBay

Bidding for the watch, which was being sold through a middleman to protect the identity of the seller, had reached £3,500 before it was recently withdrawn.

A Whitehall official said the agency believes it knows who was responsible for putting the watch up for sale.

"It's a bit disappointing because these watches were meant only for MI5 officers," the official said.

The former spy served as a surveillance officer for 18 years but was reportedly dismissed after a row with senior officials. He is now studying for another profession.

Surveillance items are increasingly popular on eBay, with the online auction site offering a wide range of spy items for espionage enthusiasts, including bugs, listening devices, hidden cameras and wireless ear pieces.