Surfer finds lost 52-year-old Rolex underwater, returns the still-ticking watch to original owner

A lost Rolex Submariner watch was reunited with its rightful owner after spending four years submerged off the Australian coast of Noosa, Queensland. The luxury timepiece was discovered by pro surfer and park ranger Matt Cuddihy while snorkeling.

The Rolex, still functional, originally belonged to Ric, who had lost it while surfing in 2019. Cuddihy, led by an inscription on the back of the watch, embarked on a mission to return it. After a social media frenzy and global media attention, Ric, 69, verified the watch's authenticity via the unique inscription.

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The inscription on the back of the Rolex simply read, "Presented 1971." This would be a detail that would unlock the secret of who originally owned the watch. The text itself does not tell much, but it meant the world to Ric, a 69-year-old Sunshine Coast local. The watch had been presented to Ric in 1971 when he was 18 years old by his father for winning a local sailing race. For Ric, the watch has shared every adventure since. "Matt finding that watch unlocked the key to this whole 52-year story," Ric said.

In 1971, Ric was at a boarding school in Brisbane, where he could come home during the holidays to spend a lot of surfing and sailing time with his family, especially his father. "I sailed small sailing ships called moths. And I had such a successful year sailing at Caloundra Sailing Club, I was presented a watch by my father for sailing achievements in 1971. I was so grateful for that watch and surfed and sailed a lot with it; I even won the Sunshine Coast Championships with it strapped on my wrist," Ric explained. "The watch started its career with me there. It helped me with its countdown bezel where I would count down start times for sailing, surfed everywhere from the bar in Caloundra to Double Island Point as well in the 1970s with it."

Amazingly, it's not the first time Ric has been separated from the watch. Once it fell in a friend's septic tank and wasn't retrieved until three years later when the tank was emptied.

Cuddihy recently met Ric for lunch and returned the watch.