SC man discovers 50-year-old watch worth nearly $40K, donates it to the Salvation Army

Money from rare watch to be donated

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - After taking in an old watch to have it repaired, one Midlands man discovers the more than 50-year-old watch is now worth nearly $40,000.

Reece Williams has been a Salvation Army board member for nearly half a century- so when found out that his old watch had become his new fortune, he says he felt the obvious thing to do was to donate the money to those who need it most.

Williams says he, “bought the watch many years ago when I was first out of law school – about 1965.” With a price tag of $250, the watch was purchased to help Williams with his active lifestyle.

“At the time, I was foolishly still flying a little bit and also sailboat racing, and the watch was very useful because it had a stopwatch.”

He says eventually, electronic watches became a cheaper option and so he put the Rolex away for several decades until recently when he decided to take it to Sylvan’s to be repaired. Williams says the vintage Rolex immediately caught the attention of the Sylvan’s jewelers.

“Very impressed (laughing), they told me I had a collectible watch and told me it was quite valuable,” Williams said.

David Wilcox works at the downtown Columbia jewelry store. He says he’s been, “looking at and selling these watches for 40 years now and I recognized the fact of what it was and, of course, with the help of Google, I punched in a few numbers and I verified how rare that watch truly was.”

The watch, which Williams spent $250 on, is now worth $38,500. He’s planning to donate every penny to the Salvation Army.

“I’ve been involved with the Salvation Army and it just seemed like an obvious thing to do, to donate it to the army especially this time of year – Christmas,” Williams said. He continued on to say that he believes in the mission of the Salvation Army and the people they serve.

“Their unofficial motto is they help the undeserving poor. Those are the people who nobody wants to fool with because there’s no hope for them.”

Henry Morris is the Salvation Army Area Commander/Core Officer in the Midlands. He says, “When we have love for our people and we reach out for our people, we come together and that’s what it’s all about – coming together, reaching the needs of our people. This donation will be greatly used, and we just thank Mr. Reece for doing that.”

If you have any old watches tucked away, Wilcox of Sylvan’s says the value may surprise you.

“It happens more often than you would think. We get many clients in that bring these watches in to be serviced and they have no idea how valuable they are.”

The area commander with the Salvation Army says the donation will be used to help with their ongoing efforts this time of year – feeding the homeless, helping with rent and utilities, and donating gifts to under-served children for the holidays.

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