An Air Force Veteran Paid $346 for This Rolex Daytona, Now Worth $700,000

After this Air Force vet bought his Cosmograph Daytona for $346 in the 1970s, he locked it up for 40+ years. And what a good idea that was.

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A U.S. Air Force veteran recently brought his Rolex Cosmograph Daytona reference 6263 onto Antiques Roadshow in Bonanzaville, West Fargo, North Dakota, and was utterly floored by the appraisal. According to his story, after seeing airline pilots wearing Rolex watches during his tour of duty in Southeast Asia in the early 1970s, the vet purchased the chronograph for the princely sum of roughly $346. Back then, that amount of money would have totaled a month’s pay — thankfully, he received a nice 10 percent discount when he purchased it through his local base post exchange.

Deciding that the watch was too nice to SCUBA dive with, which is what he had originally intended it for, the vet packed away the watch and all its paraphernalia, including box, papers, hang tags, etc, in a safety deposit box, and never wore it. (Frankly, it looks like he wore it a few times, given the wear on the case back sticker and clasp, but the watch is still in incredible condition). Fast-forward 40+ years, and he decided to bring the watch onto Antiques Roadshow to ascertain its value.

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Well, thank God there was no SCUBA diving done in this watch. It’s a Paul Newman variant (an exotic dial) of the reference 6263 Cosmograph Daytona, of the Oyster-cased variety with screw-down pushers for additional water resistance, and though the watch may have survived some sub-aquatic adventures, its nearly NOS (“new old stock”) condition means that our friend the Air Force vet can retire several times over. Given an auction estimate of between $500,000 – $700,000 for his $346 watch, we’d say that parking this Daytona in the bank for four decades wasn’t a bad move at all.

We don’t want to give away the whole shebang — it’s worth watching on YouTube to get the whole story — but suffice it to say that this may be one of the best horological finds summoned from the vast depths of the internet. And certainly one of the best finds from Antiques Roadshow.

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