The December Christie’s sales had some big prices for ordinary watches, and some good prices for rarities.
I have bumped the 2915s up considerably. These are so rare the prices are based on some very limited private trades and even less examples of auction prices. Also remember the absolute condition of a 2915 is never going to be the same as a nice 145.022, and the value is based more on the correctness of the components, and how actually complete they are with original parts.
The first bezels fitted to the 2915’s were engraved metal ones that I know very little about. They are so rare even the ones that look old might be fakes.
Then a black BASE1000 bezel was fitted to the 2915-3 and the 2998-1 and 2998-2. These command huge prices, and the last BASE1000 bezel I saw sell achieved about $6000, though as of October 2016, I know of collectors willing to spend up to $10,000 for a top example.
There are only two correct BASE500 bezel designs originally fitted to the 1960’s watches, and then there is a later service bezel that is often seen, distinguished by noticeably smaller TACHYMETRE letters.
There are also minor font differences seen within these three designs, perhaps different manufacturers – but for the purposes of value however these are three you are likely to see. The oldest is at the bottom, and the modern, incorrect for our range, at the top:
The Dot Over 90 fitted 1961 to 1969 (DO90)
The Dot Next To 90, with tall TACHYMETRE letters. 1968 to 1978 and beyond. (DN90)
Later, small TACHYMETRE letters. Similar to the current model. This is never correct for the pre 1978 watches I cover.
There is also the 220 misprint bezel fitted to some 31m serials. Very rare, and more interesting than valuable.
The DO90 bezels recently started trading at the $800-$3000 level, so this has a significant influence on the value in a watch.
Bezels are a service part, and they are as easy to change as your socks. Well, taking off is surprisingly easy. And putting the bezel back on the same watch it was removed from is mostly straightforward.
Putting them back on can be tricky – Nothing is ever simple with watches, and sometimes a different bezel will not go on a different case. I believe all the case sizes (post 2915) are the same but I have found some variations.
Sometimes the bezel goes on too easily and could fall off in use. When I replace a bezel I check the fit with my fingers – I try hard to pull it off – and then I check with a loupe to make sure there is not a gap.
Any problem I have had, has always been resolved at the workshop where the people who actually know what they are doing work. This was the case with these two watches:
Finding someone to work on a cal 321 is a challenge. Many can do it, if all that is needed is a strip, clean, oil and reassemble. However many 321’s are so old that something inside needs replacing. Many independents cannot access parts. Even those who can, are limited to what Omega can supply.
For some, the only option is to send to Omega in Bienne, and I think that is fraught with the dangers of replacement parts when the owner would rather keep the originals. So we have to find a workshop that is capable of actually doing the work (not everyone can work on a 321) and acceptable in the collecting community as well as access to the parts that Omega no longer supplies or even carries at all.
We also need to feel confidant that the workshop will sympathetically preserve the character of the watch.
Here is an example. This 2915-1 was found in Italy. When it arrived it was running, keeping time and apparently to my non watchmakers eye, healthy.
Here is is after a visit to STS. As can be seen, large numbers of parts were replaced, due to deterioration that would have inhibited performance. Some of the parts were supplied by me, the hands and bezel.
Here is the before shot:
So bear in mind when you buy a 321, it probably needs something. And if your watchmaker does not have access to the part, what will he do?
All is not lost – a lot of 321’s do not need any parts. Just make sure you know what you are buying.