Rare Rolex watch bought for £70 could fetch £200,000 at auction

Rare Rolex watch.
The rare Rolex was bought for just £70 in 1964. Credit: Gardiner Houlgate

A Rolex watch bought for just £70 more than 50 years ago is expected to fetch more than £200,000 when it comes up for auction in Wiltshire next month.

The rare Rolex Sumariner 5512, which has an exceptionally rare '3-6-9' dial, was bought by its original owner to celebrate his 40th birthday in 1964.

That type of watch was only produced for a short period in the early 1960s. Very few survive with their original dial because when they were returned to Rolex for servicing, the dial was regularly replaced with a new one.

The watch's owner worked as a medical attendant at the former Shirebrook Colliery in Mansfield.

David Hare, director and auctioneer at Gardiner Houlgate auctioneers in Corsham, said: “This is the holy grail of vintage watches. There are so few of these left in their original condition that they command very high prices and are sought after by collectors all over the world. This particular watch has a version of the dial that experts call a ‘Crown-62’ variation, which makes it even rarer.

“When we sold a similar Rolex in 2016 it went for £192,000.”

Auctioneer David Hare describes the rare Rolex as 'the Holy Grail of vintage watches'. Credit: Gardiner Houlgate

The watch is being sold by the original owner’s daughter and son-in-law – also Mansfield residents – who wish to remain anonymous.

The original owner was born in London but moved to Mansfield during the Second World War to work in the mines as part of the then government’s ‘Bevin Boys’ conscription programme. After a spell as a driver for East Midlands buses, he returned to the mines as a medical attendant. He died in 1995.

The Rolex was bought from Watches of Switzerland in London. It retains its original boxes, guarantee and service booklet. 

It will be auctioned on Wednesday 21 October at Gardiner Houlgate in Corsham.