Antiques Roadshow delivers the feels (again) with this old solider’s white-gold Rolex Day-DateLuke Benedictus
Let’s not sugar-coat things here: life can often be a cold, hard bitch. But if you know where to look, you can still find plenty of feel-good moments to brighten the inevitable gloom. Some things, in fact, are guaranteed serotonin boosters that simply cannot fail to lift sagging spirts. Being welcomed home by a happy dog. Watching family members reunite at an airport. Discovering an unexpected $50 note in the pocket of your jeans. Such things are fail-safe moments to make you feel decidedly less glum. The horological equivalent occurs on the Antiques Roadshow whenever some old fellow discovers that the old watch they picked up many moons ago is actually worth a small fortune.
The latest Antiques Roadshow mood-lifter involves this ageing man in a wide-brim hat. The watch in question is his white-gold Rolex Day-Date that he received in 1964 during a week of R&R in Hong Kong in the middle of his military tour of duty in Korea.
“My wife at the time bought this for me as my birthday present,” he explains. “I had wanted the 18-carat, yellow-gold model, but they were outta stock.”
The old guy admits that he wears the Day-Date “probably three or four days a week” but it looks to be in remarkable condition. The 18-carat white-gold watch features the distinctive fluted bezel and pie-pan dial on a president style bracelet. But the first thing you’re struck by is what a brilliantly wearable and surprisingly low-key proposition it is in white gold. As we’ve written before, a yellow-gold Day Date demands attention. It’s the ultimate status-signifier watch, a veritable power-play for the wrist. This white-gold example, however, feels discreet in comparison and is also significantly rarer. As the Antiques Roadshow presenter points out: “We see maybe 50 yellow-gold ones to every one white-gold one.”
Better still, the old guy has kept all the extra value-adders. He’s got the original box – which unusually is made out of ostrich skin – the papers and even the little Rolex Oyster tags that are quite valuable in themselves. The inclusion of that complete set makes the expert’s ultimate US$20,000 valuation, a little conservative in my book. But not so low as to deny that feel-good moment we’ve all been waiting for, when the old man lets out with a delighted, “Oh my!”