Incredible tale of the ultimate Rolex barn find in the Mojave Desert

  • A watch collector has made the ‘ultimate’ Rolex barn find deep in the Mojave Desert
  • He simply followed the signs leading the way to a thrift store in the Las Vegas desert
  • After advising a browsing local not to let go of his classic Rolex for too little money – his kindness paid off

Published on Jun 05, 2024 at 9:11 PM (UTC+4)
by Amelia Jean Hershman-Jones

Last updated on Jun 06, 2024 at 4:19 PM (UTC+4)
Edited by Tom Wood

In a story that’s proof that good vibes bring good things, one watch collector made the ‘ultimate’ Rolex barn find deep in the Mojave Desert.

While it might seem like an unlikely location, he simply followed the ramshackle signs leading the way to a thrift store.

After advising a browsing local not to let go of his classic Rolex for too little money – his kindness certainly paid off.

READ MORE! Rolex unveils stunning new timepieces for 2024 with a few surprises

The store in the Mojave Desert

Watch collector and content creator, John Karambelas is the owner of the Instagram page @barnfindwatches.

He was en route from Vegas to his home in LA when signs to a random thrift store in the middle of the desert caught his eye.

After he followed the signs, he came upon a nice store, before asking the owner what watches he had on offer.

While nothing in stock was of interest, a browsing local was keen to interject.

The man with the Rolex

He asked Karambelas whether he was looking for a Rolex and told him that he had a Rolex Explorer he’d purchased while stationed in Da Nang, Vietnam, as a marine between 1967 and 1968.

The local had planned to sell the watch to the thrift store for $100 – the same he’d paid for it in 1968.

Karambelas warned him not to, advising that it ‘could be worth thousands of dollars’.

Not unlike this veteran who discovered the true worth of the rare 1960 Rolex he purchased decades ago.

When the shop owner encouraged him to bring it to the Mojave Desert store, he rang within half an hour to say he couldn’t track it down.

Karambelas carried on his journey home from the Mojave Desert, firmly believing he was out of luck – and down a Rolex.

And we love tales of lucky people unearthing rare Rolex, like this one found that is so rare it had an expert baffled.

And this Rolex that a surfer found on the ocean floor, which has been fully restored.

The Rolex Explorer

To his surprise, 10 days later Karambelas received a call from the man saying he’d finally tracked it down.

“I drove the 400-mile round trip and ended up buying ‘my Explorer’,” he enthused.

“It was a Rolex Explorer Mk1 1967. And it was real.

While the box, papers, and band were missing, the original crystal remained intact as it had been kept in a tin for 30 years – but it doesn’t matter to Karambelas.

“I’ll never sell that watch,” he concluded.

Want more Rolex news? One of the rarest Rolex watches in the world, completely different to others, sold for a record $3.5million at auction.


Amelia Jean Hershman-Jones

London-based Amelia cut her journalistic teeth covering all things lifestyle, wellness and luxury in the UK capital. Fast-forward a decade and the experienced content creator and editor has put pen to paper for glossy magazines, busy newsrooms and coveted brands. When her OOO is on you can find her spending quality time with her young family, in the gym or exploring the city she loves.