Opening Up The Ski Patrol Watch

So here is the investigation of my latest Speedmaster, from a private owner who had it since new. I was told that it went to Omega once for a service.

So time to open it. First undo the springbar in the clasp. Pahawi’s opener in the background – it makes opening SO much easier and safer. Even if the only thing you ever do is open your watch once to check the number it is worth it. Check the link, and order yourself one.

It fits perfectly, into each slot. The brass material is softer than the steel, so less likely to cause damage.

So we open this up, revealing the dust cap. Under this lighting, the dust cover seems to have some discolouration, and we can also clearly see the gasket has degraded and disintegrated.

I lift the dust cover off with a blade. Some recomend a watch knife, but I prefer the blade as I need less pressure, and I think less possibility of damage. Being sharper, I can get between the cover and the movement ring, and it lifts easily. I find a watch knife too blunt, and the temptation for me is to apply too much pressure.

The dust cover, showing slight discolouration.

Lets see the inside case back:

145.022-69. There is one watchmaker’s mark. (These marks are quite beyond my understanding). So what we should see is the movement is an 861. Here it is:

So we see it is marked 861. The serial is 28.4m, that puts it right at the start of the -69 production – and that means the DO90 bezel is correct. Gratuitous DO90 shot…..(Shame about the dent)

Clean movement, dirty outside. In fact the movement is exceptionally clean.

Note the screw heads. None show any damage, and there are no signs of any work. This is good. It means we can work on this watch knowing that no-one has gone in before us and messed it up.

Low lets look at the pushers. Plenty of corrosion and on this reference I would have no problem replacing the service pushers as they are exactly the same. We can just see some clean screws in this shot too.

Movement in general looks very clean, with clean screws, a degraded gasket and plenty of dirt around the outside, which we must be careful not to let inside while we inspect.

Here we clearly see the scratches in the Hessalite. While polishing would improve it, I think we will replace it along with the pushers. If I can get an identical crown, then I will replace that too.

It is tempting to leave everything as is, just service the inside – but those pushers are really crusty.


A Wonderful Thing. One Owner 145022-69

Every now and then the stars align and two people come together and both get what they want. A fine gentleman contacted me asking if I would like to buy his watch, that he had owned since new.

Oh yes I would.

One owner watches are a grail to me, unmolested and with full, if undocumented history. I now see these watches look different, Genuinely different from many of the watches offered by dealers or even collectors that have had a bezel swapped here or hands changed here – The more owners a watch has, the less original it looks. Its a hard thing to spot, but it is a skill that if you are in this hobby, you cannot fail to pick up.

Even servicing changes a watch, and the difference in an Omega standard service and a less skilled independent, can be obvious to me, when the independent is not as careful. If you want to know what I am talking about, google “Watchmaker Screwdriver dressing”.

As always when dealing with strangers over the net, we both circled slowly…..The more I learned the more I liked – He works the ski patrol, an retired Sherifs Deputy….how cool. One of the photos of the watch sent to me included a shot of four ski patrollers – the guys who get you down safe when you break a leg or do something stupid.

So we talked back and forth. I tend to over pay for a privately owned watch because firstly if they have contacted me through here, I feel an obligation to give a full honest valuation, and secondly, I do not want to have the seller go anywhere else, if it is a private, untouched watch. The most important factor, is that I do not need to factor in a profit. This is my hobby.

So I thought of a price, added a bit on, then added more on, so that I could not be accused of taking advantage. Then I organised Parcel Pro to pick it up. Made all easy. I had no qualms send the money by wire first.

When it arrived, I was thrilled to see included was an original brochure from 1960’s or 1970’s.

Look at the scratches on the crystal – another sign of an original watch!

I was told this watch was serviced in the 1970’s by Omega, but thankfully all seems to be original. The crystal has some deep scratches but that never bothers me. The movement feels a little stiff, but my next trip to STS is next week.

I have not had time to follow my own advice – I have not opened the back, and checked the serial and case back – that will have to wait until I have a clear hour or so, with no circling children. (A word to the amatuer watchmaker – wait till the children are asleep before doing even the simples of operations. One Slip, and you will hate yourself each time you look at the watch).

More on this wonderful, One Owner Watch next week when I get it open.  (Using Pahawi’s opener of course).


Black Racing

Very are and very desirable.

There exists perhaps 10 known examples, all in private hands. We do not know where they all are, or if that estimate is valid. I suppose an upper ceiling of 20 examples may be valid until we see otherwise.

Here is one I recently acquired. It shows typical signs of ownership: The chrono hand is unlikely to be original, as with the blue hour subdial hand. However I think I shall keep all as they are. These are so rare, that each may be identified by its small deviations. So the hands are part of the history.

A 145.022-69 Not To Buy

This came up on Ebay, here.

It is a 145.022 with the correct, later DN90 bezel. We can see the dial has a step, and the hands look correct. So far, so good.

I am often asked what to look for when examining a movement….The problem is this:

Not the colour of the bridges, how they are so different. In fact the balance bridge looks annealed, or burnt.  While I suppose it is possible these parts could acquire this colouration in the watch, I would have to wonder why. In general this is a watch to be avoided – the parts should not look like this.

At the moment this watch is bid to $1600 with a few days to go.



Number Bridge For Sale on Ebay

Now I dont like this, a bridge selling for over Euros 500 so far and bidding still to close.

EDIT: This has now closed with a price of Euros 1898.

The only reason to buy this is to deceive. So I am posting here so that we have a record. The number is 25009475. So if a 105.012 pops up with this number we know what it is.


2500xxxx I have seen in all the late sixties references but I am learning it is the next two digits that count, and I have not yet decided what this is from.

BASE1000 Bezel Sold for $16,200

I am kicking myself this morning.

Base 1000 bezels are very rare. Finding one is almost impossible and before this one the last one I heard sell was around $10,000. When discussed between my fellow collectors, none of us would refuse the opportunity to buy a BASE1000 for $10,000 so I suppose it should be no surprise to see this one sell for $16,200.

Image from listing, cropped and flipped by me.

The seller, while I do not know them personally, is known and trusted.

The bezel itself looks better than many. The black colour is solid, and the numbers clear, and it is in good condition. There are many that are too faded, to worn, too scratched – this is not one of those, it’s nice.

It must be said the case is almost an irrelevance, no 105.003 had a bezel like this, and it has been put on upside down – perhaps for safe keeping? I have a spare bezel and I keep it on a case, thinking there is less chance of damage. Still, we have to attribute a value to this case and I thought of a generous $3000.

So that would value the bezel at around $13,000, or 30% up on the last known sale, or at least agreed value. In those terms, seeing as how 2998’s have risen 200% over the same period, this is cheap no?

A 2998-1 with the correct bezel is arguably worth $15,000 to 20,000 more than one without. A 2915-3 by the same amount.

So now that I sit, and coldly go through the figures, I regret not bidding more. At the end there were three bidders over 15,000. As far a watchcollecting as a hobby, these numbers for a bezel are insane.

But looked at in cold hard cash terms, I realise I made a mistake not buying it.


Auction Season 2017 starts…

Watches of Knightsbridge on March 18th 2017.

(There were a couple of poor 105.003’s last week in Fellows but for some reason I cannot track down good images)

WOK had a fairly unsuccessful sale in Middle East, and now returns to london. Premium is 24% incl vat and sensibly they are no longer charging for online bidding. (I am waiting for all auctioneers to start charging for phone bids, which surely costs  them money compared to  online).

lot 190 105.003-65 Estimate £6000 – £7000

This is a well used and generally worn watch, that manages to remain attractive, perhaps because it all seems to fit together and appear original-ish, or at least honest. The bracelet and endlinks are valuable on their own, but inspection would be needed before throuwing full value into it to make sure the endlinks are genuine, $1000+ No6’s.  There are issues with the hands, which are almost certainly partially or fully replaced, but a long time ago.

The dial and bezel are pretty poor examples, but solid and it would not improve the watch to swap anything out, as it would upset the balance. These two items form a huge part of the value and they are simply not very good quality.  However as the overall package of the watch is balanced and attractive, it might make the estimate.  It is such a difficult watch to value – its attractive, but flawed.

The dial looks dry, and spotted and poor – however I wonder if this is the photography. It’s still an average watch, and that means that while speedy-mania reigns, it will sell, but if ever there is a slow down it is exactly this nearly correct, but poor quality that will suffer devaluation first.

Lot 191 105.002/145.012 double ref, £5000 – £6000

Double reference in the case back – very unusual and especially unusual to be paired with 105.002. I have seen this with 105.012/145.012 but not so far mixed with a straight lug reference. I am not sure just how many nerdy speedmaster collectors will fight over this. I have a feeling not many – we would rather spend the money elsewhere. Like the 220 bezel, these double ref backs are interesting, but not interesting enough to pay a big premeium for.

This watch has incorrect hands, a later bezel and a poor looking dial. It looks dry, aged and in poor condition, with spots.

the bracelet will add value, but this is a strong estimate for a watch with incorrect bezel and hands and a poor dial, even with the case back. For me it is 2000 over estimated, but we shall see – it’s a new season and buyers have had little to buy and may be ready to spend.

Lot 192 145.022-69 Straight Writing, estimate £4500-£5500

Here we have a rare straight writing case, with an extract which is becoming more and more important to me as values rise. Remember there are two versions of this caseback and this one is the more common..

Lot 194 145.022-74 estimate £2000-£2500


Another owned watch, evidenced by the signs of wear. For me, a -74 is not as desirable as a -71 because from -74 the dials are domed. Having said that, it can be an affordable entry to speedmaster ownership. I suspect this one will need a full service before being safe to use. At this level we have to examine the finances ruthlessly, so the watch could cost 2500+520 commission + 500 service, so £3520 at high estimate. As you would end up with a solid serviced speedmaster, I can see how in today’s age it would be attractive to buy this – at least you would know it’s not been ‘dealered”.

This watch appears correct, the bezel being the dropped serif tall letter tachymetre. This part, I am sure, will see the next surge in bezel values.