Australian surfer and ocean explorer Matt Cuddihy was paddling and enjoying the surf off Noosa, a beautiful coastal town in the Australian state of Queensland, when he spotted something unusual. I was just snorkeling around the same areas I normally go to in Noosa, and there seemed to be a bit of sand that had shifted and exposed more rocks than normal. I found seven surfboard fins wedged between rocks. Looking over, I noticed a Rolex Submariner with its band caught under a rock. The glass was partially frosted over from the sand moving around it for so long.”

It is not the first time a sea-debris-encrusted dive watch has appeared off the Australian coastline. Recently, Citizen brought back a Promaster model based on a watch found on an Australian beach, which Nacho wrote about here. Now it’s a vintage Rolex Submariner’s turn. 

This Rolex Submariner is no Bali knock-off

The Australian surfer couldn’t believe his luck. “I took a photo with my GoPro, and I instantly laughed and thought it must have been a Bali knock-off,” Cuddihy explains. He posted images of the Rolex watch he had found on Instagram, revealing a watch encrusted in ocean debris from what must have been a lengthy period underwater. The Rolex, which looks to be a Rolex Submariner reference 14060, still runs. Correction: It’s a Submariner ref. 5513 with a later dial.

“When I bought it in from the ocean, I washed it in some fresh water, and a lot of the sand, salt, and organisms came off. It smelt pretty bad and had some major corrosion to the bezel but the second hand was still moving. The crown is jammed, so it technically still tells the time but not in my time zone,” he explained.

Vintage Rolex 5513 Watch 5

Another example of a Submariner 5513

Finding watches on the seafloor

An appreciator of Australia’s wild coastlines, Cuddihy often ventures into the ocean to pick up detritus, including broken-off surfboard fins. “It was just another beautiful day in Noosa, and for many years, I have been snorkeling around the points when there is no surf. Mostly just looking at fish and visiting the local turtles, I started noticing an influx of things that shouldn’t be there. So now I try to snorkel once a week with a mesh bag and fill it with garbage that ends up wedged in the rocks. Mostly surfboard fins and fishing lures,” he said.

It is not the first time the surfer has found a watch. Recently, he also reunited an Apple watch he found on the seafloor with its owner. “I normally post my treasures on Instagram, and through that, I have reunited one surfboard fin to a guy that had lost his at the same spot that I found one which was in perfect condition. Then a few weeks back, [I reunited] an Apple Watch with a local guy that lost his in a recent swell,” he said. So what will he do with the Rolex now? Mr Cuddihy said it is with a friend who collects Rolex watches. “He is getting it evaluated and checked out by some people that actually know what they are looking at.”

Rolex Submariner 5513 Maxi Dial 9

Rolex Submariner 5513 (for illustustration purposes)

A steward of the ocean

As a regular explorer of the ocean, Mr. Cuddihy said that he hoped that by bringing attention to the random objects he finds and cleans off the seafloor, people will be more mindful and appreciative of keeping the ocean environments as pristine as possible.

“Everyone has different experiences in nature, and for me, growing up in a place that is surrounded by national parks and beautiful beaches has shaped my life to where I am today. Taking care of the wild places is everyone’s responsibility, and I’m just stoked to be able to try do my part so future generations can have the same appreciation,” he said.

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