Watch from 1970s 'dad worn down the garden' sells for tens of thousands of pounds

Posted on 19/12/2018 in Press Coverage

A watch bought by a Nottinghamshire man for a few hundred pounds in the early 1970s sparked an international auction room bidding battle eventually selling for more than 17 times its low estimate.

The 1960s Tudor Rolex steel Oysterdate wristwatch had an estimate of £3,000-£5,000 but soared to £51,100 when it went under the hammer at Hansons Auctioneers’ Christmas Fine Art Auction at Bishton Hall, Staffordshire. (on Dec 18)

Such was the battle to own the watch, six phone bidders from the UK and around the world, including Hong Kong, competed against internet and advance bidders to secure the item.

The watch was finally sold to a French internet bidder competing against a UK phone bidder. Though the hammer price was £51,100, the buyer’s premium took the total price paid for the watch to £63,364.

The owner of the watch, a 74-year old retired office worker from Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, wished to remain anonymous but said: “I can’t believe it. I’m over them moon. Never in my wildest dream did I expect it to fetch that kind of money.

“I was out all day when it went under the hammer and my son was in the middle of a conference call when he got a text from a friend saying a watch had just gone through the auction for more than £50,000.

“We were so shocked we rang up the lady at Hansons to ask if it was true. My husband, who died seven years ago, was a keen collector of nice watches and bought it at Woodwards Jewellers in Derby Road, Nottingham, in the 1970s.

“I think he paid about £300 for it but I’m not sure. He used to wear it down the garden and at work – and he worked in demolition. It looked like a bog-standard work watch to me. I didn’t think it was anything special.

“When Isabel Murtough, a jewellery and watch valuer at Hansons, showed us a similar watch that had sold for £12,000 my son said, ‘what do you want to do, mum?’ I said, ‘Let’s go for it’.

“My son said if had made £10,000 he would have been very happy. What a bonus for it to make so much.I think my late husband will be smiling down on us this Christmas.”

Adrian Rathbone, associate director at Derbyshire’s Hansons Auctioneers and a watch expert, said: “We’re absolutely delighted for our client. This watch is a very rare and early model, circa 1970-71, in exceptional condition.

“Rare watches, especially early Rolex models, are a major success story of recent years. Desirable watches are likened to rare cars and wealthy collectors will stop at nothing to acquire the best examples for their collection.”

Swiss watch brand Tudor is related to superstar brand Rolex and rare examples can spark bidding battles.

Tudor launched in 1946 when Hans Wilsdorf, creator of Rolex, wanted to launch a new watch brand that would offer the precision and reliability of a Rolex timepiece but at a more accessible price. The association with Rolex gave Tudor watches instant credibility.

Mr Rathbone said: “Rare Tudor watches have been known to sell for more than £30,000 at auction but the price achieved by Hansons is particularly impressive.

“However, in 2015, a unique Tudor Black Bay watch sold for $373,000 (around £295,000), at a charity auction in Monaco, more than 100 times its low estimate.”

The Tudor watch sold at Hansons’ December 18-20 Christmas Fine Art and Jewellery Auction at Bishton Hall, Wolseley Bridge, Staffordshire, ST17 0XN. To find out more, email [email protected] or call 01283 733988.