1943 Black Dial Rolex Bubbleback
Appraised Value: $5,000
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (2:09)
GUEST: I brought my husband's Rolex pink gold watch. He got it from work. Someone asked him if he would be interested in purchasing it. He was needing some money, so he looked at it and thought, "Okay," and just went ahead and bought it.
APPRAISER: When did your husband get this watch?
GUEST: Sometime in the '80s, I can't remember exactly when.
APPRAISER: So he helped somebody out with money. What did he pay for this?
GUEST: Sixty dollars. We just were told it was a pre-World War II pink gold. Other than that, that's all we really know about it.
APPRAISER: It dates to 1943.
APPRAISER: It's pink gold, it's called a "bubbleback." It has an automatic movement. This watch was designed in 1933, it was revolutionary. They waterproofed it, they designed it to be worn every day, be a work horse, and this watch really is. You can still today service this watch and it will run probably for another 50 years. The unusual and rare part of this watch is it's the black dial. Being that it's a black original dial for an early bubbleback, a lot of the dials were white, stick figures, kind of plain. This has luminescence, and there weren't many black dials and most of them were refinished. When a watchmaker took a watch in to service it, the first thing they did was refinish the watch.
APPRAISER: And this one has an original dial from 1943. The numbers have radium on them. They're radioactive.
APPRAISER: So, they probably burned off the hands and they painted them. It can be relumed with stuff that's not radioactive today, which is a lot better. But thank God they didn't overpolish it, they didn't overdo things. There were some solid gold cases, and there were some 14- and 18-karat gold cases. This one's an 18-karat gold top with a steel back, and the value of this, because of this particular dial, probably a retail value is about $5,000.
GUEST: Whoa! (laughs)
APPRAISER: Probably the only thing that's holding it back... the size of the watch, people are buying a little larger watches right now. Probably about five or six years ago it had actually more value.
GUEST: Oh, my gosh.
APPRAISER: It's actually at a lower point right now.
This website is produced for PBS Online by WGBH Boston. ©1997-2015 WGBH Educational Foundation.
ANTIQUES ROADSHOW is a trademark of the BBC and is produced for PBS by WGBH under license from BBC Worldwide.
WGBH and PBS are not responsible for the content of websites linked to or from ANTIQUES ROADSHOW Online.
PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.