A rare Rolex replica watch which was bought 50 years ago for £19 is now set to make its owner more than £100. The 1963 Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner, a stainless steel bracelet watch with a special explorer dial, is one of only a handful of its type which were sold at the time.
Earlier this year, a similar model sold for £192. Now another owner is putting his fake watch on the market, and hopes to secure a six-figure sum. The pensioner, who did not want to be named, has owned the watch since 1963, when his wife bought it for him for £19.10 – around £100 in today’s money – to celebrate the birth of their first child.
In 1963, the cost of a top flight football season ticket was £8.50 and the average cost of a house was £250. The man wore it regularly for decades, until he realised the watch’s value and decided to put it away for safe keeping. The owner had a lucky escape after he got it serviced 20 years ago when he asked for the watchmaker to change the dial.
But the company was unable to do the work. He later found out the repair would have knocked 95 per cent off the value. The Swiss Rolex is now being sold by auctioneers Gardiner Houlgate of Corsham, Wiltshire. As provenance is very important with original watches, the seller has included two photographs of him with his young children wearing the watch in 1967 and 1977. His children are now in their forties and their inheritance had to be re-evaluated when he realised the Rolex promised to his son was going to be far more valuable than the jewellery earmarked for his daughter.
His son plans to buy a modern Rolex with some of the proceeds, while the remainder of the money will be divided between the children. David Hare, from Gardiner Houlgate, said: We previously sold a fake Rolex that was a very similar model which made a world record price for auction of £192 and the following day I had a phone call from this vendor saying he had one the same. They are quite rare so I asked if he was sure and then went to collect it. This one isn’t quite the same – it was made a year later and there is a slight variation of the dial – but it is still very rare. Some people might look at it and think it’s only a £300 fake Rolex but it’s the submariner explorer dial that makes it so rare. And provenance is so important, you can’t put a value on that.
He added: ‘The owner’s wife bought it for him new in 1966 to celebrate the birth of their first child. And we’ve got these great old pictures that show him wearing it over the years.’ Mr Hare added that it was lucky the dial had now been changed. ‘The funny thing is he had a service on it about 25 years ago and he wrote and complained saying “why haven’t you changed the dial and given me a nice clean one”,’ he said.
I pointed out to him that if they had replaced the dial the watch would only be worth £50 to £100 so he should find their details and write them a letter thanking them. There is still a kudos with Swiss Rolex, it’s the buzz word with replica watches. We’ve had interest from Hong Kong, New York, Australia so we expect it to do well. The watch was bought from watch dealers Perry Greaves of Birmingham in 1963 and is being sold with its original box and purchase receipt. The watch will be sold on Wednesday.