Zach Norris was just your average guy. Living in Phoenix, Arizona, he enjoyed the simple things in life like spending time with his fiance, golfing at the many courses in the area, and, in his free time, collecting watches.
However, he never took his hobby seriously; it was all in good fun… for a while. That all changed when, one day Zach purchased a watch that would change his life. Because while he bought it for a mere six dollars, its true value was much greater.
Zach’s interest in watch-collecting began years ago, when he inherited an Omega Seamaster, one of the most coveted luxury watches. Soon afterwards, he joined vintage watch groups on Facebook and began browsing yard sales and vintage shops in the hopes of finding something special.
Usually he’d walk away empty handed, as the watch collecting business is a competitive one. It’s rare to spot a valuable deal that hasn’t already been bought by some other discerning consumer.
Yana Paskova – New York Times
Zach knew the ups and downs of the hobby. He bought a vintage Enicar Sherpa ultradive for a little over forty-one dollars, which ended up being worth an impressive one thousand dollars. He also had some disastrous finds.
On another occasion, Zach came across an Omega Seamaster 600 being sold for a mere thirty bucks. Being somewhat of a connoisseur at this point, he knew it was worth way more than this. Zach decided to take a lunch break and come back to purchase the watch afterwards.
To his great disappointment, the valuable specimen was nowhere to be found upon his return. Someone else had jumped on the offer before Norris could. He learned his lesson that day never to miss out on a great deal.
But by far the best find of Zach’s life came on a day when he wasn’t even looking for a watch at all. It all goes to show, the best things in life happen when you aren’t expecting them.
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It was a hot day in Phoenix, and, to stay out of the sun, he decided to take a visit to his local Goodwill. Zach was searching for a good deal on a golf cart, something he’d been needing for a while.
Unfortunately, he didn’t find any carts that were to his liking and was about to leave empty-handed. On his way out of the store, however, he noticed a box of loose watches and decided to take a look, just for kicks.
YouTube – Curiosity Incorporated
According to Norris, most of the watches were “Fossils,” a relatively cheap brand, and were priced at about 15 dollars. Then, one particularly special specimen caught his eye.
YouTube – Curiosity Incorporated
The keen shopper turned the watch over, and, to his shock and amazement, immediately recognized what it was: a LeCoultre Deep Sea Alarm. To a watch collector like Zach, this find was incredible. He knew all about its history.
YouTube – WatchBox Reviews
The LeCoultre Deep Sea Alarms or DSAs for short, are a rare line of luxury watches. So rare, in fact, that less than 1,000 were manufactured for sale in the US. But even more impressive than their scarcity is their unique functionality.
DSAs were among the first watches made for deep sea divers to be able to use alarm technology underwater. Zach was overjoyed; he had found a true treasure. And to make matters more fortuitous, Goodwill was selling the piece for only $5.99!
Zach walked out of the store, thrilled with his purchase. But he still wanted to take it to a watchmaker, just to make completely sure he was correct about its true value. This would lead to an even more incredible discovery.
A jeweler in Scottsdale confirmed the watch was a genuine DSA, and, based on its slight weathering and its serial number, it was likely made in 1959 — the very first year these watches were manufactured! The question remained though: just exactly how much was it worth?
Photo by Michele Tantussi/Getty Images
Norris ran to the vintage watch groups on Facebook and posted about his find. Immediately, he was inundated with offers of people willing to buy it for thousands of dollars. Deep down was conflicted.
On the one hand, the DSA was incredibly special to him. But at the same time, Zach knew that the money he would make off it could also change his life. The decision weighed on him.
Then, like magic, Norris found the perfect buyer that put his worries to rest. Eric Ku wasn’t just any watch collector; he was a revered Rolex dealer who Zach himself deeply admired. The two quickly got into negotiations.
YouTube – Revolution Watch
Eric explained that he already owned a DSA, but his was in such perfect condition that he didn’t feel comfortable wearing it around in public. He knew Zach’s slightly less pristine edition would be just what he needed. Still, the seller had some stipulations.
For one, he wanted an Omega Speedmaster Professional Watch from Eric — along with $36,000. But, more importantly, he wanted to deliver the precious watch in person. He met his idol in San Francisco, where he received another huge surprise.
Not only did the two make the deal, but they also became good friends, spending the day together and eating lobster rolls at the Old Port Lobster Shack. Zach told his new friend what he planned to spend his money on.
His upcoming wedding! That was his first priority. And as for the rest of the 36 thousand? He put it towards buying yet another luxury watch, as well as overall improving the quality of life. A happy ending that all started with a trip to Goodwill.
Flickr – Eliot Harmon
Not all who come across valuable items decide to sell them. One man had to explain his decision to turn down an $800,000 offer for an old family toy. There are countless gems waiting to be dusted off in junk rooms across the world. Usually, they’re discovered when a relative dies, which is precisely what happened to the Davis family.
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When Mr. George Davis passed away, his family was less-than-enthused for the task of sorting through his belongings. His home in upstate New York home was stuffed with trinkets, collectables, and old appliances. As the family sifted through the timeless novelties, they were struck by one piece in particular.
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Among the boxes lay a small, wooden case without a lock or secure protection. Inside, a carelessly wrapped figurine was staring up at them with eyes made of rare sapphires. They’d later learn that just one of these pea-sized gems would be worth a lot.
Upon first glance, the family thought they’d found an old toy soldier. They searched it for a model number or logo, but saw none. Twisting it around in their hands, they came across a few clues to the statue’s incredible worth.
Not only were its details exquisite, but they were far beyond the scope of a mere children’s toy. The gemstone embellishments glimmered from every angle, starting from the soldier’s decorated vest of medals down to the buckles on his boots. The Davis family knew they’d struck gold. Literally.
They wrapped the delicate figurine properly and took it to a local jeweler, who rejoiced at the sight of it: Most of the gems covering the little soldier were real diamonds worth thousands a piece! The family was immediately offered $800,000 for the miniature relic. However, this got them thinking.
Hubert Schriebl / Stratton Magazine
What kind of toy soldier would be covered in real, precious gemstones worth an entire lifetime of savings? Instead of selling the figurine on the spot, the Davis family took it to multiple jewelers and learned something extraordinary.
One of the jewelers was able to identify the origins of the artifact based on a few telling details. The lavish embroidery and the golden-braid trimming were obvious enough, but the encrusted double-headed eagles were the frosting on the cake.
The Davis family had found a figurine from Imperial Russia, dating it back over 100 years. It had last been seen in 1934 when an industrialist named Armand Hammer purchased it for $2,250 (now equal to about $35K). From there, the Davis family traced it back to its astounding origins.
Czar Nicolas II was the very last czar of Imperial Russia, one of the largest empires the world has ever seen. In 1912, just years before Bolshevik revolutionaries overthrew the monarchy, the czar sensed the tides of war rising. With this, he commissioned the figurine from a company whose name you may recognize.
A. A. Pasetti
Ever hear of Fabergé Easter Eggs? You’ll notice the resemblance to our trusty toy soldier. Started in 1882, the Fabergé family jewelry company was renowned for its extraordinary craftsmanship, including embellishments like diamonds, gold, and sapphires. Sound familiar?
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The work of the Fabergé company was sought after by Imperial Russian royalty. The most popular of these commissions were Fabergé eggs, of which there were roughly 69 ever created. However, figurines like the toy soldier were even more precious, with about 50 total in existence. Who was this particular figurine made for?
Czar Nicolas II, in fear of losing his throne, wanted to comfort his wife, Empress Alexandria Feodorovna. He commissioned her a gift that resembled her personal bodyguard, Nikolai Nikolaievich Pustynnikovloyal. A Fabergé statue depicting an actual person was an incredible rarity. Unfortunately, the statue did little to protect the empress.
About five years after the creation of the toy soldier, Nicolas II relinquished power and his family escaped to a safe hideout. Their security only lasted a year before they were slaughtered at the hands of Russian authorities. With the full story unveiled, the Davis family had to make a decision.
The Davis family knew that a previous Fabergé figurine had been auctioned at Sotheby’s for $1.8 million back in 2005. So, the family hired an expert auctioneer to land them a staggering deal.
A good auctioneer knows how to sell. They’ll talk about the history, components, and manpower behind any item to secure a bid. The auctioneer for this little Fabergé soldier, however, stumbled upon the easiest job of his life. For the entire 15 minutes of bidding, the room was an absolute madhouse!
The bidders were bouncing back and forth, pushing the price higher and higher with every passing second. During the mayhem, a London-based jeweler called Wartski made a bid over the phone, crushing the competition with a whopping $6 million bid! Wartski explained their reasoning to the Register Star.
“The purchase of the figure is a continuation of our long-running tradition of acquiring Imperial Russian Works of Art,” said Wartski. What would the jeweler buy from an average Jo to add to their expensive collection?
To make this kind of profit, you’d have to stumble on a genuine Fabergé. Look for the intricate, almost decadent assortment of gemstones and engravings of gold, particularly with Russian emblems or double-headed eagles. What if you were to find a real Fabergé Egg?
Well, getting your hands on a real Fabergé anything would mean entering witness protection. As far as the eggs go, however, those babies sell for over $33 million a piece! For now, you may want to start the search with your own attic. Rudi Schlattner thought there might be treasures in his.
At the ripe old age of 83, Rudi Schlattner never expected to return to his childhood home after 70 years. The stately residence caught the attention of many passers-by in Usti nad Labem, Czech Republic. Naturally, the Schlattners were devastated to leave it.
But they had little choice. By 2015, Rudi was the only one left who remembered their trials and travails, but he made sure the younger generations knew about their troubled past. One callous decision turned their world upside-down.
In the immediate aftermath of World War II, Czechoslovakian leaders resented Germany for taking over their country with brute force. President Edvard Beneš retaliated by expelling all ethnic Germans from his country, even those who’d lived in Czech society their entire lives.
So 13-year-old Rudi and his family had no choice but to flee immediately, lest they be forcibly moved by the military. Carrying only a few bags each, they had to leave most of their possessions behind. But Mr. Schlattner had one trick up his sleeve.
After a career as a wealthy merchant, Rudi’s dad knew a thing or two about storing valuables. He told his son that all their worldly belongings were stowed away somewhere in the large attic of their house.
It was a clever move. With the dust settling on an international power struggle, European nations had no qualms about confiscating private property from displaced citizens. With any luck, the Schlattners would be able to return home and reclaim their property.
Fate, tragically, had other plans for the family. They moved into the American-controlled portion of West Germany, where the Berlin Wall totally shut them off from their familiar hometown. Rudi’s parents never saw Czechoslovakia again.
However, Rudi’s desire to rediscover his birthright never wavered. After Soviet Europe opened back up to the world, the octogenarian reached out to Vaclav Houfek, director of the Usti Municipal Museum. He wondered what became of his old house.
Vaclav was pleased to report the building was still in fantastic shape. A kindergarten had taken over most of its rooms, though no occupants ever renovated the attic. It basically looked the same as it had in the 1940s.
This revelation energized Rudi. Was it really possible that all of the relics of his former life were out there waiting for him? He had to find out. Working in tandem with the Usti Museum, he returned to the attic.
As familiar as the dusty planks were, Rudi couldn’t see any hidden stash of family heirlooms. He and the other researchers knocked on the wooden panels with a hammer, but couldn’t locate any hollow spots. They were ready to give up.
Fortunately, a memory buried deep in Rudi’s consciousness came roaring back to him. He recalled his father saying that a small string was the only way to open the compartment. Minutes later, Rudi spied a piece of twine dangling between two boards.
He pulled it. After cloud of musty air puffed out, Rudi stuck his head inside. Amazingly, the Schlattner family’s possessions were still there after all those years! Stacks of boxes lay untouched, and Rudi couldn’t wait to see what treasures they held.
The museum staff, once the shock wore off, loaded up Rudi’s find into a truck and brought it back to the archives for inspection. While cutting open the paper around the first box, they prayed that the items inside were still recognizable.
They soon found there was no need to worry. The contents of the Schlattners’ attic pained a vivid picture of life in 1940s Czechoslovakia. Rudi wiped away tears as he held dolls and toys that were once his childhood favorites.
In fact, his dad packed up nearly everything the family owned. Bottles of makeup and medicine, some of them barely used, suggested that he truly expected to get back home shortly after their exile. Then, there was the matter of some real treasure.
The haul included many paintings by Josef Stegl, a celebrated Czech artist who lived with the Schlattners for a time. Without the foresight of Rudi’s father, these masterpieces may have been lost to mobs of plunderers.
Amid this joy, Vaclav had one bad piece of news for Rudi: none of this belonged to him. The oppressive anti-German policies of President Beneš meant that any abandoned items became the property of the Czech state. But Rudi didn’t mind.
He took pride in his family’s past living on in the Usti Museum. Displaying these artifacts would be part of an effort across Europe to shine a light on the forgotten stories of World War II. Unlike Rudi, however, many were coming across hidden locations through freak accidents.
History came knocking for Simon Marks a year after Rudi’s discovery. The resident of Luton, England, had an accident in his own driveway one Saturday, and he groaned at the thought of a ruined weekend. That is, until he inspected the damage.
With plans to go out in the afternoon, Simon had simply been reversing his black Vauxhall Zafira out of his front driveway. Unfortunately, when he did so, he felt it lurch forward. At first look, the damage was bad — really bad.
Concerned a sinkhole had just opened up underneath his house, Simon took some pictures of the massive crater beneath his car’s tires and sent them to his father, Gerald, who was on his way to help. “I was just terrified the whole house was going to vanish,” he said.
The closer Simon looked at the damage, however, the more he came to realize that perhaps this was something more than a sinkhole or a “badly constructed garden.” Carefully, he began removing the cracked slabs of concrete—and was stunned by what he saw.
Descending into the darkness of what he’d once thought was going to be a massive thorn in his side—and his wallet!—was an old, rusted ladder. That was when he and his dad decided to start digging.
Simon and Gerald didn’t have fancy tools or machines to help the excavate the hole that was, as The Sun later reported, “nearly full to the top with mud.” They simply used shovels and buckets.
The pair dug and dug, the pile of excavated mud growing larger by the hour. Strangely, ordinance surveys didn’t shed any light on what might have been hiding beneath Simon’s driveway. According to those reports, there was nothing but empty land before the home was built.
Soon, Simon and Gerald had removed about five feet of mud in total—enough for them to crouch down inside and further inspect the space. Gerald had a hunch that he knew what it was, though he needed to see it to be sure…
The two men descended the ladder, unsure what they would find. Once they reached the bottom of the chamber and established their footing, they turned around—and came face to face with something unusual.
There in front of them was a strange doorway. Unsure if it was safe to enter the mysterious corridor, Simon did a little scouting. “I got my selfie stick,” he said, “and put it down the hole where I saw two rooms.” So what were they looking at?
Meanwhile, Gerald’s hunch was confirmed. “My dad saw it and instantly said it’s an air raid shelter,” Simon said. “We googled it and found there are quite a few in this area.”
After conducting some research, Simon surmised that the shelter had been built during World War II after a bomb landed near the home. This was a good theory for a number of reasons…
During World War II, the Luftwaffe—Germany’s air force—conducted a number of precision bombing raids on the United Kingdom and its allies. The unit infamously bombed Liverpool, Birmingham, and parts of London not far from Simon’s home.
mperial War Museum / Wikimedia
The looming threat of a bomb dropping at any moment pushed authorities and private citizens alike to construct bomb shelters. At first, tube stations, basements, and cellars served as protection; in the 1940s, communal shelters were built.
When there was an impending threat of an incoming bomb, authorities activated air raid sirens, which prompted people to head to the cover of one of these shelters. Many of them were reinforced with brick—just like the one in Simon’s driveway.
In Simon’s shelter, hidden within the rubble of the largest chamber, were a number of well-preserved historical pieces. This newspaper might have seen better days, but it still served as a reminder of what was happening around the time Simon’s shelter was built.
This milk bottle, filled to the brim with caked mud, also offered a small glimpse into the past. Had someone been drinking from it while waiting for the bombs to drop above their head?
Whoever owned the house before Simon must have built the driveway right on top of the shelter. When the door’s hinges finally rusted away, the door fell into the chamber, making it only a matter of time before the concrete collapsed inwards.
“It’s incredible to think it has all been made by hand,” Simon said about the shelter. “It’s part of our history so it should be kept.” Simon and Gerald hoped that it was structurally sturdy; this way, they wouldn’t have to fill in or remove the shelter.
Surprisingly enough, catastrophes occur on people’s properties more often than not. A couple in Idaho was suddenly woken by a loud noise in the middle of the night. However, when the woman walked into the garage, she couldn’t help but shriek in horror at what she saw.
It was around 4 a.m. and Brittany Bush, her husband, and their young son were sound asleep. They lived in a quiet neighborhood where things were usually quite peaceful. But on this night, they heard a sudden crashing sound.
Startled awake, Brittany and her husband searched the house. Had someone tried to break in? Thankfully, it seemed the coast was clear and they went back to sleep. The following morning, however, Brittany went into the garage. When she opened the door, she screamed…
Brittany couldn’t do anything but stare in horror at the mess inside of her garage. All of the family’s belongings were lying in shambles in the middle of the garage! Surely this was the source of the loud noise during the night. That’s when Brittany took a closer look…
“As I was pushing the garage door up, my right foot was stepping into the garage and just kept going down,” Brittany explained. “I was holding onto the garage door and looked down and just started screaming. I’m like, ‘Our whole garage is sunk down!'”
It didn’t take long for the family’s neighbors to find out what had happened. People slowly trickled by throughout the day to survey the damage. They were all shocked by the hole, and everyone naturally wanted to know how it got there…
As Brittany and her husband investigated their garage, they discovered what might have caused the problem: there was actually another room beneath their garage! It really wasn’t a sinkhole at all—it was a mysterious room they’d never even knew existed.
Inside this mysterious room were shelving units that still had someone’s belongings on them. Everything was covered in a thick layer of dust and weathered from years of neglect. Brittany and her husband moved in closer to investigate.
As it turned out, there were plenty of interesting things on the shelving units. The first one that stood out to the couple was the large number of glass bottles. What were they used for? They had no idea, but they were going to keep digging…
Brittany noticed several large boxes packed with old documents of some kind. The couple also realized that the walls of this hidden room were incredibly deteriorated, with mold and mildew filling nearly every crack of the cement siding.
Strangely, the majority of the belongings in the room appeared to have been previously owned by children and a woman. There were plenty of kids’ toys, as well as a woman’s handbag, a hair curler, and a letter. Those weren’t the weirdest items, though…
Most intriguing to Brittany and her husband was one letter in particular. The edges were tattered and the coloring had faded over the years, but it was still very much intact. They looked carefully at the smudged writing to see who it was addressed to…
Interestingly enough, it was addressed to a business called “Melaleuca: The Wellness Company,” an online wellness company based in Idaho Falls that provided customers with a variety of health products. But why was this letter buried in their house?
Brittany and her husband knew they were lucky that this was the extent of it. Naturally occurring sinkholes are often devastating. Still, they needed to get to the bottom of this one in particular…
Once it was determined that they weren’t in any immediate danger, Brittany’s husband contacted their insurance provider. Shortly after, an insurance agent arrived to assess the scene. Along with him was an engineer…
The Bushes initially thought that the room was a bomb shelter, but the engineer quickly shot down that idea. He was also surprised it hadn’t caved in sooner, as the concrete was only two inches thick. That’s not all he had to say…
“[The insurance provider and engineer] said don’t be alarmed if there is a body down there,” Brittany told East Idaho News. “‘We hope there’s not but if there is stop what you’re doing and call the police.'” Whoa!
Another strange detail about their discovery was that this mystery room didn’t show up on any city or county records. There was no kind of paperwork at all that indicated the room was ever officially constructed!
Brittany and her husband were incredibly lucky that no was badly injured. Although it was all a bit scary, the couple did think the discovery was fascinating. The mystery of it all was clearly piquing the interests of people all over the area.
Brittany and her husband are now in the process of looking through the debris and trying to determine exactly what purpose the area once served. Now, the next time they hear loud noise in the middle of the night, they certainly won’t go to bed until they find the source!