Antiques Roadshow fans are worldwide and PBS viewers saw appraiser Peter Plane take a closer look at a Rolex watch a few years ago. But it was no ordinary item as he unveiled how the backstory gave it a staggering price tag.
The gentleman who brought it to the show said: “I brought you my Rolex watch, which was given to me as a gift from my uncle back in 1975.
“He purchased it at Tiffany’s in New York. He was a physician who had relocated to the Netherlands from New York, probably in the mid-’60s.
“And right before I was going to go to college, he noticed that I wasn’t wearing a watch on my wrist, so he literally took it off of his wrist, gave it to me, and that’s how I acquired it.”
Peter asked: “Do you know why he picked this model watch?”
“I don’t. Unfortunately, he passed away a few years back, but he was always one of those people who always like the newest things,” the guest said.
And the guest explained: “About 18 months to two years ago, I took it in to get it serviced at a Rolex dealer. The person at the jewellery store told me that if I did send it into Rolex to be serviced, they would remove the face, put a new face on the watch, and then keep the old face. And I didn’t want to do that, so I took it to a different watch repair shop.”
“When Rolex generally restores a watch, they like to put new parts on them,” Peter said.
“They don’t like their old parts around because people use the parts to make counterfeit watches with them, or they can take a real dial and put it on a fake watch.
“So they don’t want those parts floating around.
“In this case, I’m glad that you didn’t change the parts on the watch. What caused you to think that? Because most people would want the watch refurbished and all shiny and new.”
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The guest revealed: “It was especially interesting to me that the watch was purchased at Tiffany’s in New York, and I thought that was a really wonderful feature about the watch. And I knew that if they replaced it, it wouldn’t have that, and I thought that was especially unique.”
Peter then discussed the make and model: “Your watch is a GMT Master, as you’ve mentioned. It’s one of the earlier versions. I looked up the serial number of the watch, it was made around 1963, 1964.
“I would say the original retail price was somewhere around $ 275 to $ 350.
“It has an unusual dial on it. It’s an earlier model dial, we call it gilt dial. It’s got a few features on it that are really very interesting. One of them is at the very bottom of the writing, there’s a little line, it’s underline. Collectors refer to this as an underline dial.
“Also, it’s very unusual that you have the Tiffany name on the dial. It’s a co-branded watch– you have the Rolex name, and you have the Tiffany name. Tiffany no longer sells Rolex watches. They used to sell Rolex watches, but one day Rolex decided that they didn’t want to print the Tiffany name on the dials anymore. Tiffany took the stance that ‘We’re a brand name, and we don’t want to sell anything that doesn’t have our name on it.’
“So they took the corporate decision not to sell Rolex anymore if they could not have their name on the watch. The fact that it has the Tiffany name on the dial adds to the collectability of the watch.
“What do you think the value of the watch is?” He asked and the guest said: “I have no idea.
“I’ve taken it in to various Rolex stores, from time to time, and I’ve heard everything from, when I first had it serviced in the early ’80s, $ 1,200, to people telling me well over $ 10,000.”
“Well, your particular watch, if you had it serviced by Rolex and had them replace the bezel insert here, which is all faded out, and replace the dial, polish it up and make it beautiful, your watch, today, would probably bring around $ 10,000 to $ 12,000. If you had it serviced,” Peter divulged.
While this impressed the guest, Peter went onto say: “I’m very happy that you did not have it serviced that way.
“Collectors like things totally original. They want the original dial, even with the oxidation on it, even the faded bezel is very collectable. Today, in the retail market, your watch is worth $ 50,000.”
“Oh, good grief,” the owner remarked. “That’s, uh… that is absolutely stunning to me.
“I think the highest I ever heard was $ 30,000, which I thought was crazy and outrageous, but the fact that it’s worth $ 50,000 is startling to me.”
“If the dial had no oxidation on it, and it was really a mint dial, this is a $ 100,000 watch in today’s market,” Peter stated.
As for the conversion, the watch is worth £38,000 around the time of publishing this article.
Antiques Roadshow is available to watch on the BBC iPlayer now.