An American war veteran got the surprise of a lifetime when he discovered the true value of a Rolex he bought decades ago for US$346.
The Antiques Roadshow guest, referred to only as David in a video clip from the show, bought his 1971 Rolex watch while serving in the U.S. air force in 1974.
He paid a mere $345.97, and even got 10 per cent off while he was stationed in Thailand, working to clear roads of landmines and clean up munition storage spots.
David barely batted an eye when appraiser Peter Planes informed him that an extremely rare watch like his — the model, known as an Oyster Rolex or a Daytona Rolex, is comparable to one worn by late actor Paul Newman — can go for upwards of $200,000.
When Planes told David his watch’s estimated auction price, he literally fell over backwards in shock.
The appraiser pointed out that the particular model features the word “Oyster,” making the watch “extremely, extremely rare.” Planes guessed that it would sell for $400,000.
David fell onto his back on the ground in excitement. A couple people wandering the auction grounds even came over to make sure he was OK.
“You OK?” Planes asks David in the video. “Don’t fall. I’m not done yet.”
The lucky auctioneer shared that he kept the watch in a safety deposit box for nearly 40 years, only taking it out a few times to look at it. He also had all of the original paperwork and even verification papers with no writing on them. Those papers alone, Planes said, are worth $2,000.
Considering the accessory’s immaculate condition, Planes said it could auction for anywhere from $500,000 to $700,000.
“Half a million dollars, $700,000,” Planes told The Washington Post. “That’s life-changing for somebody.”
On the show, David said he had been planning to use the watch for scuba diving but decided not to, as he thought it was too nice to put in saltwater.
“I looked at it and I said: ‘You know, this is really too nice to take down in the salty water,'” he said, adding that he only wore it a few times before putting it away for safekeeping.
Paul Newman’s Daytona Rolex sold for $17,752,500 in 2017.