Zach Norris had gone into the shop in the state capital Phoenix looking for a golf bag trolley, but recognised the timepiece during his visit.
A watch collector, Norris knew that just 900 of the Jaeger-LeCoultre watches had ever been made.
Established in 1833 in the Swiss town of Le Sentier by Antoine LeCoultre, the firm was responsible for a number of breakthroughs in watch technology, including the push button system eliminating the need for a key to wind it up and invented the ‘millionometer’ to accurately measure up one micrometre - one-millionth of a metre.
He focused on high quality timepieces, and was awarded a gold medal for his work at the Great Exhibition of 1851.
Norris put the Jaeger-LeCoultre watch up for sale on a collectors’ website, with a San Francisco resident paying $35,000 for it (£22,656).
He told local TV that anyone could strike gold in second hand shops, adding: “Research everything. Just take your phone in there and if you see something that looks goofy, you haven’t seen it before, Google it. You never know.”
Norris added that he was planning a wedding using the money from the sale of the watch but revealed that he had donated part of the money to the store.
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