When an “Antiques Roadshow” guest bought a Rolex in the mid-’70s, he paid about $345. Learning how much it’s worth today made him literally topple over.
In Monday’s episode of the auction show, a man in West Fargo, North Dakota, identified only as David, brought in a watch that “Antiques Roadshow” dubbed the “season’s biggest find.”
He bought the watch, a 1971 Rolex Oyster Cosmograph, in Thailand while he was stationed there in the Air Force from 1973 to 1975. He recalled becoming intrigued with Rolexes after seeing pilots wear them and was further motivated to buy one after hearing they were good to take scuba diving.
After arriving home, the man kept the watch in a safe deposit box, where it stayed for “30 to 40 years,” save for a couple times when he took it out briefly to check on it.
“It was a lot of money for myself,” he said, adding the price of the watch was worth about a month’s salary.
David also saved the original documents that came with the watch – appraiser Peter Planes said those papers, which were left blank, were probably worth about an additional $2,000.
Planes noted the watch’s popularity was due in part to Paul Newman wearing a similar one in “Winning.” That make currently goes for about $150,000 to $200,000.
“Your watch is more special,” he explained. “It says ‘Oyster’ on it. They did that for an extremely short period of time… This particular model… is extremely, extremely rare. A watch like this at auction is worth about $400,000.”
The news literally floored the guest, who toppled onto his back, laughing.
“Don’t fall,” Planes said. “I’m not done yet. I said a watch like yours. Because of the condition of it, basically it’s a new old stock watch. No wear on it, the original foil sticker on the back of it, and the fact that we have all this complete documentation here also – it may be one of the very few in the whole world that still was never worn.”
The big reveal: “Your watch, at auction today, (is worth) $500,000-$700,000… I’m very serious,” he added, after David expressed disbelief. “It’s an absolute fabulous find. It’s one of the rarest Paul Newman models and in this condition, I don’t think there’s a better one in the world. I can’t thank you enough for bringing me one of the greatest watches to ever see on ‘Antiques Roadshow’ and thank you very much for your service.”