Retired teacher’s Rolex that was acquired in exchange for a table is set for auction

A retired school teacher with a passion for diving was left gobsmacked recently when he found out the price of a Rolex watch he received in exchange for a table before it heads off to auction

The former teacher, who wishes to remain anonymous, swapped a table with an acquaintance within the antiques trade for a Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner diver’s watch in 1976.

Being a keen diver, he wore the watch on more than a hundred dives across the globe which included the mecca of sea diving, The Great Barrier Reef.

The rare model with the 3-6-9 Explorer was produced in very small number during the late 1950s, and early ’60s and the man thought the value was around £1,200 – £1,600 after it was valued at £1,200 for insurance purposes… back in 1989!

Since then, the price has understandably shot up, with the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner diver’s watches regularly hitting £6,000 when being sold, but the 3-6-9 Explorer dial is what makes the man’s watch so valuable as Rolex only made that specific dial for a few years before it was changed.

Mr Hare, director of Gardiner Houlgate auctions in Corsham, Wiltshire, which is selling the timepiece, said: ‘The value is purely down to the dial.

“Rolex only produced the submariner dial for a very short period. It wasn’t that successful, so the short run makes them rare.

“Then over the next almost 60 years when they were serviced and went back to the manufacturers the dials had often deteriorated and were replaced so finding an original one is also very rare.

“This one has retained its original dial and is in good condition for the period.

“The condition of the watch when you consider how well used it has been – it has not leaked or succumbed to erosion – is testament to its quality.

“The client is quite attached to this watch and he has many fond memories of it but he is at the stage where he feels now is the right time to sell it and there is the added bonus with its potential value of over £100,000.

“He was certainly taken aback when he found out its value. I don’t think he was aware of quite how rare and valuable this watch is.”

The watch is set to make £120,000 and is made of stainless steel, measures 40mm in diameter and works at a depth of up to 660ft. It is in full working order and is considered in good condition, with only some small scratches on the glass, the watches owner added:

“My Rolex Submariner has been a dear and faithful friend for the past 41 years – two thirds of my life.

“I took up sub-aqua diving in the 1970s, and my first diving watch was a Marc Nicolet model that worked fine.

“However, when I was offered the chance to buy a second-hand Rolex from a friend of a friend, who was in the antique business, I was delighted to do so.

“I had long envied other club members who ostentatiously sported their Submariners.

“Although very proud of my “new” Rolex, I was slightly disappointed that the dial didn’t match the newer models. I’m rather pleased now!

“I wore the watch on around 100 dives that included many river and sea dives around the UK but also the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and much later, Honduras, accompanying a group of senior school children in my role of English teacher at a west country school here I worked until my recent retirement.

“I had the watch serviced three times during my ownership, the last one was in 1999.

“It has never stopped working and for a mechanical watch it has kept very good time.”

We have some beautiful antique Rolex’s available at Pieces of Time as well as an unrivalled selection of antique pocket watches, enamel and decorative watches, marine watches and much more