Dec. 8, 2010 at 9:21 PM ET
It was one of those eBay listings that antique dealers and horophiles dream of: A vintage Rolex Submariner dive watch, the kind that Sean Connery wore in the early Bond films, with an opening price of just $9.95.
"This is a one-owner watch," wrote Bob, the retired neurosurgeon who listed it on eBay, "purchased by me at the Navy Exchange on Kwajalein Atoll in 1958." He continued:
It has served me well, but Father Time having caught up with me, I no longer dive. For the last several years it has been sitting in a dresser drawer, and now it's time for somebody else to take it over ... Now that I'm in my ninth decade, I'm downsizing and need to unload a lot of what are really just souvenirs. So here's your chance to pick up a rare iconic timepiece.
Someone might have indeed scooped it up for a song, except that it started to draw the attention of the watch-collecting community. When Bob saw the bidding rise above $30,000, he was flabbergasted. "I thought it was a mistake!" he told the watch-enthusiast site Hodinkee.com, adding that only then did he ask his son for help researching the timepiece's significance and value.
When the bidding finally ended, three days ago, Bob netted $66,100.
For such a treasure, even Bob admitted that its history was rather boring, although as you can see from the photo above, there have been a few highlights. Bob bought the watch because he needed a dive watch, and wore it constantly for a decade or so. But in the mid-1960s, he started to wear it only "intermittently." During the 1980s, the watch enjoyed a resurgence in Bob's life, as he pursued his scuba diving hobby from his getaway home in the Bahamas. (Hodinkee published several shots from this period, including a few featuring the late great "Superman," Christopher Reeve.)
Where the watch winds up next depends on the unknown purchaser. Given the watch's marketability, it might be worth a quick flip. As for Bob, he seems like he'll be fine. When Hodinkee asked if he had any second thoughts about selling, now that he knows it's a treasure, he replied, "None at all."