My wife's Aunt Joan died recently, after a well-fought but ultimately futile battle with cancer. We found this watch packed away in a closet when we cleaned out her apartment.
We knew nothing about it, didn't even know if it was real.
She had kept her illness a secret, remarkably, until her final week. Another facet of her life of which we knew nothing was a gentleman friend of long and, apparently, close association for over thirty years. It turns out this mystery man gave Joan the watch after a trip to Switzerland in the late '80s.
Our curiosity was thoroughly piqued. Who is this mystery man with whom she'd had a weekly lunch for all those years? Was he what we would expect of a companion of Joan's, classy, intelligent, fascinating? Was he a cad who'd give someone a cheap knock-off and claim it real? Was he a unsuspecting tourist seduced by the alpine glamor and a good deal?
It did what layman's research I could and it looked right to my untrained eye...case number matched the serial serial number matched the bracelet, etc. Regardless of its authenticity it was a treasured keepsake worth servicing and wearing. Winding it felt like grinding coffee, so off to Lee, my watch guy, it went.
While it seems Joan hadn't worn it much, the bracelet is in near-new condition, it was in fact a Rolex and had been serviced at some point, apparently by an idiot. The keyless works were put in backwards, and when Lee opened it up it was a rusted mess.
Lee dove into it, and for a ludicrously low fee replaced, restored, and returned it to me today. I wish I had a before photo, he did a beautiful job cleaning it up, polished but not scrubbed of its dings and scars.
Now my mother-in-law can wear it to Joan's memorial celebration next month remember a unique, and it turns out mysterious woman who's passing has left a big hole in our lives.
We still don't know anything more about the mystery man. It keeping with his mystique he's declined to be at the memorial so all we have is the watch and a rather, I think, romantic enigma.