Saturday, November 20, 2010

Patience Pays Off

Almost exactly one year ago I posted an article about a Rolex that I found in front of my apartment while I was living in Boston. I brought the watch to work, snapped some pics, asked around the online community a bit and got solid confirmation that the watch was legitimate. That evening I turned the watch into the Brookline Police Department. I told the officer that I wanted to find its original owner as I imagined someone was looking for it, and stated that if the original owner came into claim it to pass along my phone number as I wanted to hear the history of the watch. At this point the officer said to me in a very smooth Boston accent "So a watch collector finds a vintage Rolex on the street and turns it in to find the original owner?.....Good man." Honestly, that alone was worth turning it in. I really wanted to find the original owner because if I lost it I would hope like hell someone was trying to find me.

Along with turning it into the local police department I spent the next couple of months posting on watch forums, and on Craigslist etc etc seeing if I could aid in the search. I opted to not post pics and rely on the owner being able to describe the watch to me so not just anyone could claim it. If I was contacted I would have put them in touch with the police department.

Fast forward to a year later, I contacted the property/evidence officer at the police department and was told that no one had claimed the watch and now I could consider it mine. Needless to say I was quite excited. There was only one problem...I moved to Seattle, I was literally across the country. In speaking with the detective he told me that if I arranged it I could have someone pick it up in my absence. I found a good friend in the area who agreed to proxy me and pick up the watch. I told the detective his name, put them in touch with each other and...Bingo Bango...The watch arrived in the mail today.

So here it is, it's commonly referred to as a "Rolex Rebberg", or "Rolex Trench Watch". I have it dated somewhere between 1914-1920 but am still waiting for confirmation on that. The name "Rebberg" refers to the movement that it has, it's possible this model has a proper name, I just don't know it yet.


Since I started the watchmaking class which has every tool I could possibly need I am going to be able to disassemble, clean, reassemble and oil, regulate and time it myself. The only change I am going to make is the hands, in doing some research I see that the hands have been replaced, I have already found modern equivalents to the originals and will be getting a pair of them. They should look something like THIS.

So all in all it's not a bad way to get a vintage classic...Finding one on the street. I was definitely fortunate that the watch ended up in my hands, and to its original owner, where ever you may be, I promise that your old watch is now in good hands [ask around] this piece will be pampered and cared for properly. I'm sorry you lost it, but am relieved that it no longer needs to spend its time in a police station not being fed daily.

4 comments:

  1. Maybe I'm just getting old(er), but it makes me go all soft and fuzzy that you did the right thing and attempt to find the owner. I guess people aren't so rotten after all!

    Btw, have any of your fellow horologists cried bloody murder about replacing the hands? It seems like vintage Rolex aficionados are pretty severe about keeping everything stock.

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  2. Thanks for the kind words, they are appreciated.

    Actually the hands on the watch are not original, the originals were lumed and fat, almost "Mercedes" style...see the link in the text regarding the hands

    So I am actually trying to get it as close to original as I can. If I can find old hands on eBay I'll certainly pick them up. All the comments I've received about the watch and my plans have all been very positive.

    ReplyDelete
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