We go behind the scenes at David Duggan Watches to bring you the first in a series of posts revealing some of the most interesting stories behind the watches that the team has bought and sold over the years.
First up, David Duggan shares his memories of an extraordinary set of Rolex Princes.
Back in 1984, I had just started buying and selling wristwatches and was running major advertisements in The Times and The Telegraph. One day, a chap rang me up and asked if I was interested in buying new Rolex Princes. I said there was no such thing as a new Prince – these watches were made in the 1930s and no longer produced. However, if it was in lovely condition then I would certainly be interested.
So, the chap came along to the shop and I remember he was holding one of those big, old, black doctor’s bags. He sat down and opened it up and brought out what looked exactly like a brand new Rolex Prince box. My immediate reaction was that it was a fake. Nevertheless, I took the box from him and opened it up, still convinced it was a counterfeit. Then I saw the watch. It was a nine-carat gold, straight-sided Prince and while it did indeed look brand new, it was also absolutely genuine. I took the timepiece from its box and was astonished to find that the strap was unworn and that there was even a spare one alongside it. Even the guarantee – which you often don’t get at all with a Prince – was in mint condition.
And then it hit me: this watch was an original that had never been worn. Indeed, it had never been taken out of the box. I made the gentleman an offer straight away. Then he said, ‘would you like to see another one?’ Well, now my heart was thumping. This time he pulled out another brand new box, another spare strap. This one was a silver Prince in beautiful condition. This is incredibly rare – the silver ones always tend to get bashed about. It, too, had the original guarantee. Naturally, I made him an offer.
Finally, he said ‘would like to see one more?’ Of course I did, but I kept my cool and bought all three. The deal done, he asked if I’d like him to come back with any more. By this point, I could not believe my ears. He said he would come back in three weeks. I didn’t sleep a wink!
True to his word, he returned, carrying the same doctor’s bag. He asked what I would like to start with. Well, this was too much, so I said ‘before you start, how have you come by all of these watches?’ To which he replied that his father had owned a jewellery shop in the 1930s and made his mind up that he would set aside anything that looked particularly good and that one day he would give them to his son to help pay for his grandchildren’s education. ‘My children’s education is about to start,’ said the gentleman, ‘and, now, sixty years later, I am selling these to you.’
So, then he produced a two-colour, nine-carat Prince, which is rarer than any of the others I’d seen so far, followed by a striped Prince with stripes along the top so precise, I could have shaved with them. These were unique pieces. I bought them all.
I stored them for three months, uncertain what to do. I am not a collector and I couldn’t wear them because they were brand new, and to do so would reduce their value. Finally, I realised it was time to sell them. I sold all six within two weeks – three of them to a gentleman from Hong Kong who was buying them as wedding gifts for his children.
I recently asked Sotheby’s what they thought those Princes might be worth now and they estimated £150,000 each. I often wonder where they are now.
If you are thinking about selling a watch, then visit our buying page for tips on what to consider beforehand. Or, to learn more about David’s experience in buying watches, read our blog post on Selling your pre-owned watch.
For expert advice on selling your watch, contact us today.