At a thrift shop in Arizona, Zach Norris certainly had a 'rare old time'. The 26-year-old watch collector stumbled upon a rare 'Jaeger-LeCoultre Deep Sea Alarm' timepiece in a second-hand store in Phoenix with a $5.99 price tag on it. Norris put the Swiss-made 1959 model up for sale on water collectors’ website Hodinkee, with a San Francisco resident paying $35,000 for it. Only around 900 such LeCoultre watches were made, and it was one of the first timepieces to feature an alarm. “With the extra funds, I’m paying for my wedding,” Norris told Metro.
Why did you decide to buy this $5.99 watch?
I bought it because I'm familiar with the Jaeger-LeCoultre name. I knew their early pieces, especially divers, were worth a lot of money. However, even if it wasn't a JLC, I still would have purchased it. I have just been looking for a bumper to put in my collection.
Why are you passionate for vintage watches?
Because they didn't have the production methods we have today. Everything was handmade. A 1950s no name, hand-wound or auto may not fetch a high price, if it's not a prestigious brand. But it is still a work of art and I will rock it with pride.
How can you figure out if a watch costs more than it says in a shop?
You simply need to know the watches and being able to recognize the brands usually helps. But verifying if it’s authentic or fake is also important. Just because you know the brand doesn't mean the piece you're about to drop a significant amount of cash on is the real deal. It's something you acquire over time, I suppose.
What are you going to do with the money you earned?
With the extra funds I'm paying off some bills, fixing my truck, building a project truck and paying for my wedding!
Have you made any other lucky purchase and sale?
I usually go to antique malls, thrift stores and flea markets to look and observe. I have found a few nice pieces for next to nothing. Like a Sherpa Enicar Ultradrive I picked up a few months ago for $40. It stayed in my collection. But I have not found something this big as the JLC watch still.
Will you keep hunting for watches in the future?
I’m always on the watch hunt. For me it's not for profit. It's a hobby. But in a situation like that it was above my means to wear a piece like that. So, unfortunately, I had to let it go. It went to a good guy, though.