1944 Rolex Bubbleback Watch
Back in the '40s there was an oilman here in Tulsa who would occasionally have wild parties. He'd rent a floor in the Mayo Hotel. When you got off the elevator, there was a basket of Rolex wristwatches, and that was the party favor. My dad brought the watch home, wore it for years. When he died, I inherited the watch. Then I wore it for a long time. In about 1969, I had a car wreck and the watch broke off the band. My sister came to see me in the hospital, asked if there was anything she could do and I told her to stop at the scene of the wreck and see if she could find Dad's watch. She called me later that evening and said that she stopped the car at the scene of the wreck, opened the door, put her foot down and there beside her foot was the watch. I quit wearing it. I know it's an amazing story but I assure you, my part of it's true. The legend part I can't... I can't verify. (laughs)
Well, I'll have to go with it. I believe you. This particular model is the Oyster Perpetual Bubble Back, "oyster" referring to the fact that it's waterproof. They put O-rings by the crown and they put a gasket by the back of the case where it screws in. The watch has 26 jewels and it's a certified chronometer. That means it has to meet certain standards of performance. We looked up the serial numbers on the edge of the lugs and we found that the watch was made, or manufactured, in 1944. Does that fit into the...
I thought it was 1943, but '44, '45 would be about right. If I remember correctly, in 1944, I guess it was, price was $345-- fantastic price for a watch in those days.
Good price. What makes this watch important is: A, that it's a bubble back, B, it has the original black dial with the radium numerals and the radium hands. The hands are what they call the Mercedes hands. Today, a lot of the dials have been retouched or refinished and it greatly decreases the value of the watch. It's very nice to see that nobody's messed with it over the years. At auction, a watch like this today would probably bring somewhere in the neighborhood of $6,000. But I got to go right back to the story. It's the best part.
The story's wonderful, and we have no intention of selling the watch. It's, uh... the legend makes the watch more valuable to us.
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