Sam Brown used to be a diver and after he stopped he’d always hankered after a ‘proper’ diver’s watch – ‘THE’ proper diver’s watch in fact – a Rolex Sea Dweller.
So in 1990, Sam’s wife Camilla bought him a pre-owned Sea Dweller from their local jewellers and had it engraved on the back, making it a particularly individual and meaningful 50th birthday gift.
After suffering a stroke in 2012, Sam’s mobility and speech were affected but he still visited his boat regularly where it is moored in Suffolk Yacht Harbour. This is where he was in July 2014 when he dropped his walking stick and fell into the River Orwell while bending to pick it up.
After the initial relief of being rescued safely, Sam was dismayed to see that he had lost his beloved Rolex which was now laying at the bottom of the river.
After some unsuccessful initial attempts by a local diver to find his watch where it was lost, Mr Brown “totally gave up” on ever seeing it again.
The silt from the river in this area is regularly pumped out along a pipeline and discharged onto a local farmer’s field and it was here that against all the odds Mr Brown’s Rolex was found in December 2015…. Seventeen months after he lost it.
Having read the story of the lost watch in the newspaper the previous year, the person who found it recognised it by the engraving on the back and returned it to a “delighted” Mr Brown.
Camilla said at the time “I can’t tell you how pleased he is. He was just wreathed in smiles when he got it. He was going around saying ‘I can’t believe it, I can’t believe it’. He was more than touched.”
The Oakleigh Bit
This where Oakleigh Watches joins the story. Camilla was unsure where to take such a special watch for sympathetic and trustworthy treatment so when we got in touch and offered our help, she was pleased to accept.
As you can see from the photos, when Camilla handed the watch to me it was caked in silt and some kind of hardened deposits which have locked the crown and bezel solid. The bezel insert has inexplicably disappeared, the dial has become mottled and the lume from an hour marker has fallen off and the bracelet is broken.
So, unable to unscrew the crown to wind it, I gave it a shake to see if the movement was free and guess what… it started to tick!
After seventeen months in salt water, being sucked up by a big hoover, rattled along a pipeline and spat out onto a field, Sam’s Rolex STILL RUNS….
The next part of the story will involve a service and sympathetic restoration. My son Olly and I were discussing restoration options this morning and decided that if it was our watch, we would have it cleaned and serviced and then have the minimum possible done to it to preserve the story and the new cool factor that it has acquired.
We only differed in that Olly wouldn’t replace the bezel insert at all whereas I would have an original, heavily faded one put in.
I would be really interested to hear what you would do if it was yours…
Part Two of this story will follow once we have discovered the extent of the damage that Sam’s Rolex has suffered as a result of its ordeal and what he has decided that he wants us to have done to it.