Man Finds $35,000 Treasure at Goodwill

Tess Panzer
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(Zach Norris’s rare LeCoultre watch purchased at Goodwill. Credit: Zach Norris)

It’s not every day you walk into the Goodwill and find a watch worth $35,000, but Phoenix resident and thrift store fan Zach Norris did just that. Norris spends a lot of time searching through thrift shops and charity stores looking for overlooked treasures, and on this occasion he hit the jackpot.

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“[It’s] one of those things where you’re like, ‘one day, one day it will happen,’” he told CBS local news. “And it happened for me.”

When Norris visited the Goodwill store on Thunderbird Road in Phoenix, he came across a watch that caught his attention. Priced at a mere $5.99, the diving watch was what he discovered to be a rare 1959 Jaeger-LeCoultre — one of only 900 ever made.

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Shocked and amazed, Norris says he even hesitated to hand the watch over to be scanned at check out, for fear that someone may realize its true worth.

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Once purchased, and feeling that the watch was too far above his means to keep and wear, Norris sought to find a buyer with a true appreciation and understanding of its worth. He found one through Hodinkee, a website for wrist-watch fans and fanatics, where a San Francisco based collector offered him a whopping $35,000 for his find. The collector also threw in a $4,000 Omega Speedmaster watch to seal the deal.

The LeCoultre Deep Sea Alarm was one of the first models for divers with an alarm feature, according to Hodinkee.com. The site says Norris first took it to Oliver Smith Jeweler in Scottsdale, and the experts there opened it to find everything in good condition and a correctly signed LeCoultre watch movement.

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When asked if he had any advice for others looking to make the big thrift store discovery, Norris simply said “You can do it!” And if you don’t know what exactly you’re looking at, but you think you may have found something, well then just take a picture and do a quick internet search.

Thank you, Mr. Norris. Next stop, Goodwill.

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