Speedmasters at Christies

Christies are selling four speedmasters on 11 May 2015 in Geneva.

The auction house charges 25% (plus vat if a local sale) and I have listed them below. The sale is in Swiss francs but I have quoted US$ on the estimates for consistency. The photographs are from the listing, and not good quality. If you go to the site you will be able to see high resolution, if much processed photos of the front only. For a company that wants to have as many online bidders as possible, this is not showing me what I need to see to give my maximum price.

Estimates in general are strong, and don’t forget the 25% buyers premium to add to the hammer price.

Here is a link to the Omega filtered page at Christies.

Lot 60

Lot 60
Lot 60. Photo from Christies listing

Estimate  $ 7400-$10,500

Omega. A rare and attractive stainless steel chronograph wristwatch with bracelet, Tropical dial and box

SIGNED OMEGA, SPEEDMASTER, REF. ST 105.003-65, MOVEMENT NO. 24’001’189, MANUFACTURED IN 1966

This has a very brown dial. I would want to see this watch in person before going ahead and bidding. The value is all in the dial appearance and it has certain queries for me. I have not seen a dial with this considerable degradation with such perfect plots. If they are relumed it is a very good job. I would accept it, but I want to know before buying.

This watch has a dial that will have people divided as to its attraction. The degradation has produced what looks like a nice brown colour, but the dial itself looks dry, and the minute markings are damaged. (While at the same time the plots look very good?) The whole dial looks as though it might have spent some time outside a watch.

The hands look perfectly matched to the dial, and the off colour  lume is in such good condition, that I would want to satisfy myself whether or not they are recently fitted prepared items – I think they are. This just needs to be taken into account when valuing. Its a hard thing, because I am sure if they are substitutes, the watch looks much better because of them.

The bezel is quite poor, and I would not let it influence the price.

I like that it comes with an archive extract.

The crystal has been replaced with one with a silver rehaut, and this is incorrect, It should have a black rehaut. As always, once I see one incorrect part like this, I have to be suspicious (but open minded) of the rest of the watch – what else has been changed? The more I look at it, the less I am inclined to say this is an original watch. I think it is likely to be restored one, and I cannot say for sure which parts it left the factory with.

This watch has a lot of question marks, many of which might have been answered had Christies put up more photographs, and processed them less. We could have seen so much more, especially the general case condition. As it is, I would not be flying to Geneva for this one.

Lot 61

Lot 61. Photo from Christies listing
Lot 61. Photo from Christies listing

Estimate is $7400-$10,500

OMEGA. A FINE STAINLESS STEEL CHRONOGRAPH WRISTWATCH WITH BRACELET AND BOX

SIGNED OMEGA, SPEEDMASTER, REF. ST 105.002, MOVEMENT NO. 19’833’075, MANUFACTURED IN 1963

Box and papers always are a red herring to me, you can’t wear a box.

This watch comes with original hand filled guarantee from the date of sale, but with a discrepancy in the last digit. I think I agree with Christies that this was a “misread” but I still don’t like it. I think this watch is outside Omega’s ability to issue an extract. In some ways these incorrect papers make me think they are genuine. After all if an unscrupulous seller is going to fill in a period blank form, would he make a mistake? He might.

The dial is not the best, it looks dry and very slightly blemished. It is not bad as such, just not attractive to me. It could be the photo, but I see little white spots all over the dial, and the subdial edges look rubbed from the dial being stored outside of a watch.

This is an early 105.002 and caries he alpha hands, indeed the more attractive triangular hour lume as well. It is a very rare watch.

This may well turn out to be the best of the bunch.

Lot 215

Lot 215. Photo from Christies listing
Lot 215. Photo from Christies listing

Estimate  $20,000-$30,000

OMEGA. A FINE, RARE AND ATTRACTIVE STAINLESS STEEL CHRONOGRAPH WRISTWATCH WITH TROPICAL DIAL AND BRACELET

SIGNED OMEGA, SPEEDMASTER, REF. 2998-2, MOVEMENT NO. 17’302’961, CIRCA 1960

At first sight Everything looks good on this watch, a high quality dial, correct, a Base1000 bezel that is in fair condition, a movement number in acceptable parameters.

The big red flag is that it has short, new, seamaster alpha hands. I have to ask why? Immediately we must look at the whole watch as potentially a non original.

I would need to see inside, because if the repairer thought it is acceptable to use those hands, then what else did he replace? Once again, Christies have not provided enough photos to allow me to judge.

This is a huge amount of money for a 2998, let alone one with these questions. If this sells then the market has indeed moved.

Lot 216

Lot 216. Photo from Christies
Lot 216. Photo from Christies

Estimate is $6400 – $8500

OMEGA. A RARE STAINLESS STEEL CHRONOGRAPH WRISTWATCH WITH BRACELET

SIGNED OMEGA, SPEEDMASTER, REF. CK 2998-2, MOVEMENT NO. 19’834’724, MANUFACTURED IN 1963

This has a movement number outside accepted parameters, it is too high. I am very suspicious. I think it more likely the movement in this watch came from a seamaster.

I am thinking the hands are modern replacements as the lume ends are squared and the originals are rounded.

It ought to have a BASE1000 bezel.

I cant find a nice thing to say about this, Even Christies know it is wrong, estimating it for a third of the other 2998-2 they are selling.

Even at the low estimate, this is going to cost a buyer around $8,000 which is a lot for a franken.

I wish you all the best of luck if bidding, and the only thing I can say is that all of these need viewing, and the presentation on the web, and in the catalog, is inadequate for me to make a proper assessment.

Speedmaster 2998-4 in Antiquorum Geneva

Antiquorum are selling some interesting Omegas in Geneva – only one of them is a Speedmaster. The others are definately worth a look.

Usual auction house caveats must apply:

  1. They know less about speedmasters than an informed amateur – so take whatever they say under advisement and verify elsewhere.
  2. They sometimes have pretty girls handling the watches that can make you forget #1
  3. They charge a huge premium on top of the bid, which makes most of us pay more than we might on Ebay.
  4. In general Speedmasters in Auction achieve more than I think they are worth – with some exceptions.

Sale is on May 10th 2015 and the link to the lot is here

It is billed as a 2998-4 with a movement number 1958 4900.

2998-4 for sale Antiquorum May 2015. Photo from listing.
2998-4 for sale Antiquorum May 2015. Photo from listing.

There is only one photograph, but even so I immediately call this as an assembly and while I am open to be proved wrong – here is why I start from that position, rather than another:

Dial: this has short markers on the subdial minute track and I expect to see this dial on an earlier watch, -1 or -2. As such it is a valuable dial, but has no place on this watch. So for me, the dial and case back never left the factory together. The dial is damaged, scratches and blemishes, but overall attractive – not fine.

Movement: at 19m this is outside of my observed parameters for a -4, which I see below 18m. This seems a small difference but it is important. It may as well be a 24m in terms of being correct. So now I see a movement that did not leave the factory with this -4 case back.

Hour Minute hands: These have square ends on the lume, indicating Omega suplied service replacements. So that shows the watch has been worked on. These hands are worth much less than originals, which can sell for $500-1200 just for the Hour Minute set.

As I said – this is an assembly to me, and as such would not persuade me to bid. The estimate is so high, I suspect this is a dealers watch consigned to sale. If it were private I would have expected a much lower estimate. The description claims it is from a private owner, so the other explanation is that it is an overpaid recently acquired from a dealer piece.

The one thing that makes this watch buy-able is the dial – its wrong for the reference, but if someone owned a 2998-1 or -2 with the slightly later dial, they could swap, sort out some vintage hands and then have two correct watches. Expensive way to go – but then everything is becoming expensive, and the opportunities to buy are few.

Estimate is $10,500 – $16,000 plus premium.

Here is the correct appearance for a 2998-4:

Correct layout of dial and hands for a 2998-4
Correct layout of dial and hands for a 2998-4

Check out the 2998 page here

More ebay 105.003’s

Following on from a previous 105.003 sales review, here is another. I must say there is a very wide gap between the nice ones and the poor ones. There has been a steady flow of not so good ones onto the market recently.

Here is a pretty beaten up 105.003 on sale now on Ebay at $5900.

105.003-65 On sale on Ebay
105.003-65 On sale on Ebay. Photo from listing

Now at first glance this is in shocking condition. The bezel is faded, the hands have lost paint and the dial is in terrible condition.  However I will not go so far as to say it is nasty. It looks pretty much original, with only service items changed.

siede
is that corrosion? There is the vestiges of the top facet on the lugs which is a positive. Photo from listing

Case is not great, and there may be corrosion. It has been polished, and then further worn.

This is a well used watch – but it is not prepared. This has not been “gone over” by a dealer searching for a profit. I am sure it has been serviced at some point, and someone must have painted the hands, but overall it is pretty close to looking like an owners watch.  This watch grows on me, in the opposite way those dealer watches become less and less attractive the more I look at them.

However when valuing, this is exactly the kind of watch I have in mind as “poor” as although the parts look pretty much correct, they are in such poor condition that if sold separately they would not excite interest.

The seller, despite his celltronics seller handle, has currently listed only watch items, and 330 feedback. I would be cautious but go ahead and engage if I wanted the watch. I don’t like the way it is described, but there may be language / cultural differences that I have learned to work around. However I would also say that scammers use a similar theme. So for this watch I would want to speak on the phone with the seller before sending any money.

The dial, the heart of the value in this era, is rotten. Not completely rotten, but really degraded with very little to say in its favour other than it is probably original. It is missing some of the minute track, the plots are in terrible condition and the body of the dial has raised bubbles.

The bezel may or may not be a DO90, but it is so bad it makes no difference.

This is a really battered watch. However if this is sent to a sympathetic workshop I think it would turn out well. It is a sound basis for a watch full of character – not to everyone’s taste I know.

It needs a service, new glass, pushers and possibly crown. The case I would clean, possibly a very light refinish. The hands can be repainted an appropriate aged colour, or left as is. Normally I would leave them but I think they have been repainted once and that is why it is all flaked off.

The movement looks good, correct serial range and the right parts that I can see.

This might make a good watch for someone, subject as ever, to price.

 Now compare to this:

105.003 on sale on ebay. Photo from listing
105.003 on sale on ebay. Photo from listing

On sale here

This is polished, good bezel, new hands, and an unattractive dial. It may have been relumed or worked on. Looks a little touched up, but in general in MUCH better condition than the first one I looked at above. But asking $9000 it should be.

It does not seem attractive, because of those superluminova hands. That can easily be changed.

The bezel is pretty good, and this could make a difference to the price!

Case Opening

(I preface all practical posts with the disclaimer that I am not a watchmaker, just an enthusiastic amateur living in a remote part of the world where it is better to learn to do things myself than trust what passes for a watchmaker here in Bangkok)

I live far away from any competent watchmakers. So I have to make do, or wait. I have learned that if I am very patient, and cautious with the correct tools, I can dismantle a watch this far:

A Speedmaster disassembled for a thorough clean.
A Speedmaster disassembled for a thorough clean. I was choosing a bezel to go on, obviously I cannot put three bezels on a watch.

So to get the back off I need a tool. Here is my choice:

09-P4140003-001
A Horotec case back opener with a custom holder on the platform, and holding a watch is the adjustable holder. A two pronged casual opener for winding off loose backs, and a three pronged opener. The brass tool is a custom CNC machined speedmaster specific tool kindly given to me by a member of OmegaForums.net. Thank you Pahawi!

My default tool up to now has been the Chinese made three pronged unit I bought off ebay for $8. It will remove most casebacks, but I was always wary of coming up against a stiff one, so I acquired the red Horotec unit with various fittings on a visit to downtown LA.

The Horotec unit has interchangeable heads and I use this two pronged fitting that I am not totally at ease with, I would prefer a custom one – but strangely none seems available.

Then along came this:

Brass Tool
Brass Tool. Teeth matched perfectly to the back of a speedmaster.

CNC machined, this tool fits the back perfectly and with flat edged teeth, in a soft metal, that aligns perfectly. This is a prototype but I think it is going to be my go-to opener. I still like to hold the watch in a clamp.

I made a video sometime ago showing how I open a watch, and where to check for the serial and calibre. I could be updated but it is a simple exercise and worth showing for those who, like me before I got into it all, know nothing. We all start from a place of not knowing.

Ebay 105.003 Review

The recent high prices paid for very good 105.003’s has pulled a lot out onto the market. Here I will look at one that while interesting, needs to be approached with caution and with open eyes. The seller is a regular on Ebay and has excellent feedback and so from that view it is safe to send money and work with him. (Buy the seller).

105.003 Offered on Ebay April 2015
105.003 Offered on Ebay April 2015. Photo from listing.

The link to the Auction is here

The watch has a bulky description and it is described as, and I quote:

100% all original parts  and model 105-003 from 1962/1963

I understand the term Original to describe a watch as carrying the parts it left the factory with. I find this description hard to match with the watch I see presented, which carries several parts that I doubt it left the factory with. Not a problem in itself, but if that is not true, then what else do I need to question in the description? Now I have my spectacles on and I am on red alert.

Here we have a 105.003 case back with a bezel that while it has considerable fading, is not the design I have seen in an original watch of this age, as it lacks the ring between the markers and the numbers. So I think the bezel is newer than the watch, and possibly altered by human intervention.

Here is an original 1960’s bezel, in my collection:

2998 with original vintage pulsations bezel
2998 with original vintage pulsations bezel. Note the ring between the numbers and the marks

Additionally I want to understand how this bezel changed to grey. It is a new design, and yet it has severely degraded. How? I have seen heated bezels turn this colour,  Again, if this is original, all the parts should have experienced the same environmental factors, together. This bezel has had severe and chronic trauma to reach this colour – the rest of the watch shows “normal” degradation. I am uncomfortable with the idea this bezel is original, and naturally degraded.

This leads us to the next problem. The hands are alphas and I do not believe any 105.003’s left the factory fitted with them. In fact the seller offers to supply a set of correct design hands. I would accept the watch with the alphas as they are worth a lot, being original specification 2998 hands. So the hands are not original.

Now I have established in my mind that this is not an original watch, but that does not dismiss it from consideration. Not at all. If I dismissed every watch that was like this, it would be hard to buy one.  What I do learn is that the seller has different standards of description than me, and therefore I must establish the facts for myself rather than take anything he says as true. A further example is that the movement is described as “nice red gold plated movement without big scratches“. I dont know of any Speedmaster movement that is red gold plated – Copper coloured is what I see them described as.  Again a reminder to understand the watch on my terms, not the sellers.

As to the condition. The dial is fair, and an attractive colour. It has some blotches at 11 O’clock, and the plots are degraded and a little undefined. It is the dial colour that saves this watch and makes it so attractive.

The case shows expected wear, but also some corrosion around the case back sealing edges. I doubt is would pass a waterproof test.

Case back showing moderate corrosion on sealing edge.
Case back showing moderate corrosion on sealing edge. Photo from listing

The movement is in acceptable range for an early 105.003-63. It requires a service, as declared by the seller, and so $600 needs to be set aside for this.

I think the spear Chrono hand might be a replacement as the lume in the spear looks added. I dont know for sure, but it looks off – this is exactly the sort of little thing I want to know BEFORE I buy. If I know before, and buy the watch with the knowledge of all the little things, I can be happy. To discover these things afterwards, and I am miserable.

Closeup of lume in spear Chrono
Closeup of lume in spear Chrono. The material looks sloppy and “gravely”. Photo cropped from listing

A comparison:

Original
Original. Clean, well defined shape, even colour.

 

So is this a buyable watch?

Against:

  • Non original alpha hands
  • Possible non original Chrono
  • Probable non original bezel
  • Corroded case

Positive:

  • Attractive dial
  • Correct movement
  • Correct case

On balance I say yes, but with your eyes open. The watch needs a service, some hands, and a bezel to make into an original looking 105.003. The dial will appeal to some and not to others.

For a comparison, here is a nice example of a 105.003 that is not perfect, but attractive with a faded dial:

105.003
105.003. Correct DO90 bezel, correct batton hands, slightly brown dial, clean aged plots.

Reference Table – Expanded Edition

On this site I deal with seven case references of steel cased Speedmasters .

2915 2998 105.002 105.003 105.012 145.012 145.022
  • -1
  • -2
  • -3BA
  • -3A
  • -1
  • -2
  • -3
  • -4
  • -5
  • -6
  • -61
  • -62
  • -62A
  • -62B
  • -63
  • -64
  • -65

 

  • -63
  • -64
  • -65
  • -66CB
  • -66HF
  • -67
  • -68
  • -68
  • -69
  • -69SW v1
  • -69 SWv2
  • -71 NoNASA
  • -71
  • -74
  • -76
  • -78

Almost each reference is subtly different from its neighbor, and that needs to be checked in the details pages, here.

All but one have many sub references.

The 2915-3 and the 105.002-62 have two further executions.  These are denoted by the suffixes BA (Broad arrow) A (Alpha) and B (Baton).

There are two limited editions – the 1975 Soyuz with its 5.5mm pushers, and the 1969 18kt gold. Both, literally, worth more than their weight in gold.

While many people are happy with one watch, others collect more. Some collectors, if looking for a complete set, choose just one of each reference, so seven watches would cover each of the references – without looking at the different date backs or executions.

One if each execution of each reference would be 36 watches.

BUT !

It doesn’t end there. There are four, very rare, special dials. A Racing Black, a Racing Grey, a Blue Soleil, and a Grey.  The Racing Grey is seen on 861 but the others I have only seen on 321’s. So four special dials. Each of these deserves a page.

105.003-65 on ebay

This watch is closing and I offer an analysis. The case reference is 105.003-65 and the movement serial is 2496xxxx. I have lifted the photos so the article can remain complete.

image
105.003-65 offered on eBay April 2015 at $5500

This watch carries a correct dial, but wrong bezel. The chrono hand is too late, and it would make sense that the watch had a service in late sixties or early seventies and had the bezel and hands changed.

image
From here the case back looks good

Generally the case condition is above average for this reference.  The case back does have opening marks, and that reduces the value.

image
Another angle shows opening marks
image
The dial plots are degraded, to a dirty algae look. I do not find them attractive.

The dial is terrible, for this price. Blotchy, and with an unattractive fade, combined with dirty plots. It has a “dry” look.

image
Movement looks ok

105.003’s used to be the “accessible” straight lug speedmaster. I have noticed some examples, nice ones, selling well over $6000. But these have had clean dials and correct bezels. Many of the ones offered recently have been poor, and expensive, with many incorrect parts. I don’t mind a poor example, if it is cheap enough to enjoy without worry.

It would make a fun wearing watch, if it were cheaper. The dial is really is not a good example, the hands are later and showing signs of many removals and refitting, and perhaps poor repainting. It could be enjoyed, by a certain kind of buyer. As a project this would need a lot of money: a dial for this will be in excess of $1000 and the bezel is now about the same.

Of of course this watch would need a service. A good workshop should be able to source and fit better vintage hands and that would make a big difference.

So to get this watch to a quality I would want at this price would take $2600!

It is all about price. At $5500 I would not touch it. At $3000 it would be a snatch, so somewhere between ought to be the real value.

Transitional at last!

After months of searching I have found a transitional, on comission for a good friend who wants to give it to her husband. She wanted a -68 as it was his birth year – and although I object to most “birth year” concepts (when it was built? Released? Sold? These years can be over a three to five year span) I think it is nice to have the year in the case back.

There has been a lot of rubbish about, but this one came up in the UK:

145.022-68. Just Aquired
145.022-68. Just Aquired

I shall be working on it, preparing it for her in the coming weeks.

P4140040 P4140046 P4140051

Inside the Case back is the all important -68 case stamp
Inside the Case back is the all important -68 case stamp

Site Revision

So after my little site crash, I have been re writing and checking. I have now got closer to what I want to have up, but there will still be a few kinks here and there.

A little gift to you all, a short cut:

SP101.net

That will get you straight to the home page.

P8100014

BASE1000

The prices on this page have been updated September 2016

The price of DO90 bezels continues to hit extraordinary highs last month, with a mint example selling for over $3000.

Up until now this territory was occupied by the unicorn of black bezels, the BASE1000.

Fitted to the 2915-3 and the 2998-1 & 2 these are very hard to source and up until today, change the value of the watch by around $10,000.

BASE1000 Bezel
BASE1000 Bezel