I was once told by the President of a Bank that I was employed at that I was a lucky guy. I asked him what he meant, and he said “I can tell you’re a lucky kind of guy “. Since then, I try to remind myself of this phrase made by a fellow with a few more years under his belt than me. So, he must know something right? Sometimes things are tough and busy, and we forget about the positive in our lives and how people perceive us and well sometimes fortune does smile down upon us and we should remember things said daily even if we don’t necessarily recognize what's going on around us.
Ok enough with the philosophy crap we all come here to read about watches. The other day was fortunate for me for a few reasons.
I received a call from an old friend (a retired jeweler) he asked me to come up to his house later that week and that his neighbor had a watch she’d be interested in selling and he knew I’d be the one to call. He said he would have jumped on it right away himself however he’s in his 80’s and said, “Well John I don’t need another thing in a drawer right now that my kids will fight over when I’m dead”. I love his honest Wyoming cowboy philosophy.
Friday morning, I drove from Salt Lake to Bountiful and forgot not everything is 15 minutes away anymore and I was a little late but the smile on my friend’s face meant I was off the hook. Promptness is a trait of the seasoned you know, and I escaped his ire.
We sat in his kitchen and chatted a while until he and his wife suggested we head to the neighbor’s condo down the way just there on the nice side of the golf course. We rang the doorbell and were greeted by their neighbor a wonderful little lady just like you’d expect with her walking stick, recently done hairdo and her fashionable leisure clothing that everyone’s grandma wears nowadays. She welcomed us through to the living room of a home with white carpets and not a thing out of place. Heavy furniture decorated the room with high end Knick knacks and things obviously picked up in far flung places over a lifetime of travel. Lots of memories.
There on the coffee table sat a brown leather watch box with the familiar gold crown buckle on top. An actual buckle not embossed. My friend smiled and pointed at the box. He said, “I’m sure you can guess what’s in there”. Well, I could and did a quick mental calculation in my head of what years and reference numbers for Day-Dates. I appropriately ignored the box for a while and spoke with the lady and listened intently to her story. She herself was sharp as a tack and well spoken. I asked her what her husband did for a living and when he purchased the watch. She said her husband was very proud of being able to accomplish such a purchase as he had worked for many years as a successful insurance agent. She said he wore it all the time and there was a little damage on the bracelet. By the look of their beautiful home and the fact that they had it built on the golf course some 45 years ago I’m pretty sure he did alright.
I asked permission and with an affirmation from my host I opened the box. Inside was a Rolex Day-Date 18038 (I guessed right in my head) blue dial with diamonds for the markers. The watch looked amazing for a watch worn "all the time" except for some weird wear on the president bracelet. She told me he added the diamonds later from a local jeweler as you could back then. The watch was and is beautiful, really something you hear about but rarely see. I felt very fortunate to be there and didn’t even think about bartering with the asking price because it was super reasonable, and I didn’t want to offend my friends neighbor or the legacy of this nice lady’s husband. We chatted a little more I counted out the cash and shook her hand and she was so pleased that the watch was going to someone that would appreciate it much like her late husband had. We exchanged a few more pleasantries and my friend his wife and I said our goodbyes exited and she waved to us from behind the glass of the front door. I thanked my good friend for the heads up and I think he was more excited than me. By the way he keeps time on a black and gold Rolex 1675 GMT that I procured for him about 16 years ago. Nipple dial.
I ran down to another friend at the AD and later to my watchmaker and we all went through the watch I already knew was legit after my own cursory examination. Rolex Day-Date President 18038, box papers, hang tag, oyster tag and rear case back sticker. I did that Rolex sudoku thing (term stolen from a friend thanks Bruno) with the stamp on the back of the papers and it looks like the watch was born in December of 1981. The diamonds we knew were added later. After talking with my watch maker, I’ve decided to do a careful restoration of the bracelet from NOS parts. The watchmaker at the AD thinks the original owner may have been a lefty and wore his watch on his left wrist and that’s where the weird wear came from. The watch itself looks like it’s never been polished or abused. I think I’ll hang onto the dial for a while, but a NOS dial is probably on the future shopping list of bringing the watch back to original spec.
Well, I hope you enjoyed this short story. So always answer calls from old friends because besides a conversation sometimes you might procure an old watch from a nice person with a personal story. Sometimes, you’ll get lucky and Hey, look I did because sometimes and apparently, I’m a lucky kind of guy.