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Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012 07:47 am

A Rolex shows up at Goodwill

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Want a bargain on a Rolex?

Check out Land of Lincoln Goodwill Industries, where a gold Rolex watch showed up as just another donation left at the Wabash Avenue store in mid-July.

“The production manager brought it over to me, kind of excited,” recalls John Lancaster, e-commerce manager for Goodwill. “I said, ‘Yes, I’ll take that.’ ”

This wasn’t Lancaster’s first foray with a Rolex. One found in a donation box ended up selling for more than $3,000, he recalls. But this one – a model 18038 in 18-karat gold with 31 jewels, plus two diamonds on the Black Jubilee dial – is even better.

The Rolex company has set the replacement value for a brand-new comparable watch at $32,000.  Rolex found some flaws – a few scratches on the bezel, a chip on the crystal, hands discolored, case chipped – but they aren’t apparent when Lancaster pulls the timepiece from a safe to show it off.

“You can barely see it when you get it in the light,” Lancaster says as he points out the area where Rolex says the crystal is chipped. It still isn’t apparent.

Rolex didn’t date the watch, but a Rolex dealer in Bloomington estimated it is about 20 years old, Lancaster said. The dealer also predicted the watch will fetch between $12,000 and $20,000.

By Wednesday, one week after the watch was listed on www.shopgoodwill.com (a site that operates much like eBay), bidding had soared to more than $12,500. Auctions for high-end items typically start fast, then a lull develops before the price skyrockets on the final day, which in this case will be Sept. 9.

An online auction once brought $1,600 for a diamond bracelet that had been destined for the $3 jewelry bin, Lancaster said, but this Rolex is, by far, the most valuable item found since Goodwill established an online marketing division a few years ago.

“The only thing that was even close was that last Rolex,” Lancaster said. 

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