Unbelievable as it may seem, I have come across yet another tale of underwater treasure out of the Sunshine Coast of Australia. This time, though, it was no coincidental find, but a successful underwater hunt. This report includes an exclusive interview with Elliot and Darren Styles, the father-son duo of daring treasure hunters who took on this needle-in-haystack-esque search-and-rescue mission and ultimately returned a lost Rolex Submariner to its very happy owner.

An Australian father and son who go on regular snorkeling trips to pick up rubbish got more than they bargained for when they came across a lost Rolex Submariner ref. 5513 from the 1970s and were able to reunite it with its grateful owner. Elliot and Darren Styles are well known in the close-knit community of the Noosa River in Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, Australia. The pair are passionate environmentalists and proud of the beauty of their local area. “We have been snorkeling to pick up rubbish for the last seven years or so,” Elliot tells Fratello. “We’ve been into snorkeling our whole lives. But we decided about seven years ago to go one day, and I remember picking up a drink can, a couple of bags, bait… This is the waterway we call home. When removing rubbish, you also just find really strange stuff like treasures.”

Another man’s treasures

Those treasures have included some pretty memorable items. There was the time they found a GoPro with plenty of photos on it. “We managed to track down the owner after we posted the photos across social media, he was very happy about that,” Elliot says. Then, there was the time they discovered an 18K gold wedding ring with the names of the married couple engraved on it and the date of the wedding. “We’re still trying to find them, but we hope to do so one day,” Elliot says.

The discovery of the GoPro went viral. Elliot and his father earned a reputation as the finders of lost things along the Noosa River. They started getting contacted by people on their Riverstyless Facebook page whenever something was lost. “We must have been starting to get a bit of a name for ourselves,” Elliot said.

lost Rolex Submariner mission

The quest for the lost Rolex Submariner

Then, a request of a horological nature came through in October this year. “A lovely guy called Greg had been renting a boat on the river with a friend on the day before they got in touch with us. They had gotten stuck in a sandbank, he had fallen off, and the strap of his watch had snapped. He had also lost his sunglasses, but losing his watch really was the hard part. It had been gifted to him by his parents in 1973.”

The watch was not just any watch; it was an early 1970s Rolex Submariner. “When I found out about this, I thought, ‘Well, this is serious; we should find the watch for Greg.’ We were already planning to go for a snorkel on a friend’s boat. So we picked Greg up to come with us so we could all go looking for it.”

Rolex Submariner 5513 Maxi Dial 2

An example of the Rolex Submariner 5513, the same model as the watch found by the snorkelers

A lucky search

The search area, Elliot says, was about 40 square meters. The group had high hopes of finding it with clear conditions, but the tides can quickly move sand over things, so time was of the essence. “We had started searching for about 20 minutes when I started to get a little worried that we were not going to find it. The tides can move things along quickly. I got this feeling that I should swim a little downstream.” When he did, he recognized the gleam of a watch straight away, and his heart started pounding with excitement.

lost Rolex Submariner 5513 Noosa River

“I saw a gleaming pile of stainless steel on the sand about three meters deep. I picked it up, and the beautiful weight behind it was very surreal for a non-Rolex owner like me,” Elliot laughs. “It was a beautiful watch, still ticking merrily as if nothing had happened. I screeched underwater when I saw it. I was so excited upon finding it. People on the riverbank heard me screeching and the other guys bellowing with excitement, and they were staring at us like we were going troppo (dear Fratello readers, in Australian slang, this means ‘going crazy’).”

lost Rolex Submariner 5513 Noosa River

A happy ending

Back on the boat, Greg was incredibly excited to be reunited with his Rolex. “Greg was so happy, he was over the moon. It was his 50-year-old watch, and he had shared so many memories with it. He told us he never takes it off, so he was super happy with disbelief.”

And the best thing? “We all got to handle a Rolex that day, so we were pretty happy too.”

Well, Australia seems to be the place to find lost Rolex Submariner watches. Dear Fratelli, have you ever had a lost watch found by someone? Let us know in the comments. And if you’ve lost anything in the Noosa River, we know just the father-son team to help!