A North Dakota man had to lift himself from the ground after he collapsed upon learning that a Rolex watch he purchased in the 70’s was now worth an astounding $700,000. The sticker-shock appraisal happened when the Antique Roadshow made a stop in the Roughrider State earlier this year. Residents from West Fargo descended upon Bonanzaville, a history museum complex, with armfuls of antiques and collectables primed for the rare opportunity to be appraised the experts with the Antique Roadshow.
The watch was originally purchased by the (unnamed) man when he was stationed in Thailand as an airman in the U.S. Air Force in the early 70s. He told the appraiser that he had desired to purchase it after seeing commercial pilots wearing similar Rolex watches. After saving a month’s worth of pay—$345.97—he went the Base Exchange and ordered a Rolex that arrived in the mail a few months later.
Instead of wearing the watch, he decided to put it in a safety deposit box where it remained largely untouched for forty years. When the Antique Roadshow rolled into town, the man decided to finally take it out and learn its true value.
In a video produced by the Antique Roadshow, viewers watch as the appraiser speaks to the man about the watch, its rarity, and ultimately its value. The appraiser explains that the watch is an extremely rare Rolex Oyster Cosmograph. “Collectors love this watch because Paul Newman wore this watch in a move,” the appraiser explains. “Your watch is more special. It says Oyster on it. They did that for an extremely short period of time. We refer to that as a Mark 2 dial. This particular model is extremely, extremely rare.”
He continues to the sticker shock, “A watch like this at auction is worth about $400,000. Because of the condition of it, and the fact that we have all this complete documentation. . . Here also may be one of the very few in the whole world that still was never worn, your watch, at auction today: $500,000 to $700,000. “
At this point, the man collapses to the ground by the sheer shock of the appraised figure. He then promptly arises.
“It’s an absolute, fabulous find,” the appraiser concludes. “I can’t thank you enough for bringing me one of the greatest watches to ever see on the Antique Road Show.”
There are a few key takeaways from this story, the first of which is you never know what treasures you might have sitting around that have experienced an unexpected, significant increase in value over the years. The second takeaway is there is value in keeping things well-maintained. A little preventative maintenance can go a long way. Watches are among the accessories that we tend to “forget” to clean and maintain. Proper watch cleaning begins with the right cleaning products. I suggest looking at companies with eco-friendly products (e.g. dish soap) like Melaleuca products and Seventh Generation products. With the right cleaning product, you’re ready to wipe your watch down with a scratch-resistant cloth and use warm, soapy water to clean every surface of the watch.