A Drawer Find Speedmaster

I was contacted a while ago now, by a gentleman who restores Model T Fords, and other vintage cars, and asked if I would like to buy the watch he bought new for $200 in 1973.

I did, and here it is:

As we can see the watch is well used, though not damaged. The hessalite shows a healthy amount of scratches and I suspect it is some time since the back was off – I have not yet removed it myself.

Hands have clearly been removed more than once and the paint is removed near the centre – this only happens if the hands have been on and off like a rodeo rider.

But it is an interesting back….

So it is the late 145.022-69 with the transitional back, know as “Straight Writing”. (I call it SW). Interesting the mix of dates – the invoice dated 1973, the bracelet marked 71 and the caseback marked 69.

This watch appears to be used, but not polished. In the first photo we can see the endlink has rotated. This is surprisingly common in the watches I am offered, which have often been discarded for many years, perhaps after breaking. Here we can see it is marked 516. Note the crisp case edge.

And the other side with the loose fitting endlink:

Original looking pushers, not so sure about that crown!

Here it is in a nest of its own paperwork. Showing it cost $200.81 in 1973, with the original guarantee booklet, service documents and brochures.

This is definitely another watch going into the permanent collection. More on SW’s here

 

Watches Of Knightsbridge November 2017 Sale

WOK is having another sale, and has plenty of speedmasters, several of which are post 1978 so outside my scope. I shall look at the pre 1978 ones here.

I am going to suggest you Google them for the catalog as they were very twitchy about me referring to them at all.

This auction house is becoming more active but remember that this auction house is not (yet) on a par with the “big boys” BUT this is why I like them – they offer a larger number of watches, and greater choice and a variety of qualities. Their sales tend to feel closer to the owners of the watches, or at least I feel I am seeing more from the market and from “owned” watches rather than curated or collected watches. I fell there are more estate watches here – I could be wrong. As ever do your due diligence, and make your own decisions taking your own responsibility for them.

Also be aware that unless policy has changed, not every watch is opened, though in the case where the movement was not as expected they were quick to offer to sort everything out.

I am not allowed to use WOK photos as they have not given permission. Well they have expressly forbidden me to. I assume they have got permission for the Omega red chronograph  image on their loading page :).

Lot 203 Estimate 3800 4400

OMEGA SPEEDMASTER CIRCA 1971, REF. 145022-69 ST WITH “STRAIGHT WRITING” NASA MOON LANDING TRIBUTE CASE BACK

This is a rare watch, and looks good. The dial is correct and in very good condition. The hands show little damage and the bezel is also correct and good. The back is the more common version of the two, but still desirable. We can see it is original as it has the shorter slots. I like this watch, and I would expect this to sell strongly. In fact I would say this is the pick of the sale.

Lot 204 Estimate 4000-4500

OMEGA SPEEDMASTER PROFESSIONAL CIRCA 1970, REF. 145022-69 ST WITH “220 MISPRINT” BEZEL
An interesting valuation pricing this lot above the previous. The 220 Bezel miss-print has a mixed following and while I accept this is rare, as yet, I do not see a big value – this lot may prove me wrong. This mistake bezel is very rare, and only correct in a very narrow serial range, but so far to me it is a quirk, not a valued attribute. A bit of fun, yes, but not one to pay much for.
I find the overall condition not as pleasing as lot 203 but its still in good condition with correct parts. I find the overall lume colour a little dirty and not so pleasing. I will be very interested to see how the market treats this.

Lot 205 Estimate 3000-3500

OMEGA SPEEDMASTER CIRCA 1969, REF. 145022-69 ST

This is the first of two entry level watches – it has just enough of the right attributes to make it accessible and attractive. The bezel is a DN90 and the dial is slightly degraded, the plots are off colour and missmatched. The dial is correct, stepped.

The hands look very clean and green. I would like to see more closely but it is possible they are replacements. I do not find the colour of the hands pleasing, but that should not put you off. If they are replacements, then it would be no issue to improve them by adjusting the colour.

As it is, this is one of the cheaper watches in the auction, but it used to be possible to find a watch like this outside the the auction houses for less – it is not so easy now. So I think this is going to sell.

Lot 206 Estimate 5500-6500

OMEGA SPEEDMASTER
DATED 1968, REF. 145.012-67 SP WITH OMEGA EXTRACT OF THE ARCHIVES SHOWING DELIVERY TO THE USA

From what I can see from these photos this watch is correct, but not especially attractive. The dial lume is not showing and may be missing, only better photos or an inspection will tell. The photos make the plots very white, and we need to know more before bidding hard.

The hand lume does not match between the hour and minute, or indeed the chrono tip – they are all different, and different from the dial lume. This suggests that the hands are not all original, and so we should carefully inspect the rest of the watch – especially the dial which I think needs to be seen in better light to value properly – I am concerned it looks “dry” or with very slight abrasions. In the first photo, the subdials show white around the edges – this shows in only the first photograph, but it might be they are there, albeit faintly, in real life. If I could I would enlarge the photos here and we could all see what I am talking about. Please check and ask for more photos (Do you think they would send more photos to me if I asked nicely?!)

The bezel is very good, but it has a dent at 85 and a damage at 69. These two marks stop this being a top bezel, that is one that is worth $5000. But I think some buyers will miss this. So this is a tough watch to value – the middle qualities always are a challenge to place a figure on, even the “upper middle” qualities. We just need two people who dont see, or care that the bezel is not top, and it will go for more than comparables on the market.

I like to see the extract, this definitely adds value. This watch is not flattered by the photos, and I think there is a chance it is better than the photos and so might sell to someone who has seen it.

Lot 207 Estimate 2800-3400

OMEGA SPEEDMASTER CIRCA 1973, REF. 145022-71 ST

This is the cheapest Speedmaster in the sale. The bezel is grey and with blurred printing. However the hands are good and the dial is correct and stepped. The auction only shows one photo so it is hard to fully review.

I would say if you want a lower end Speedmaster, this one with the step dial and the, lets say, characterful bezel, might be a good choice.

Its not a fine watch, but it is a fun watch with the right parts, there is even a chance it is original! It is bound to need a service at this level – but then I think everything here does. Everything everywhere does unless it has documents.

Lot 208 Estimate 4000-4500

OMEGA SPEEDMASTER CIRCA 1969, REF. 145022-68 ST “TRANSITIONAL” REFERENCE WITH APPLIED LOGO DIAL

Very nice to see this rare reference, but this one should be approached with caution. The bezel, while correct is damaged quite badly, but it does match the dial – unless it is the crystal that is damaged, the photo looks like it is one the dial.

The dial is correct, with the AML and long indices, but it is tired. The step shows abrasion. This watch is not in poor condition, but it is one I could only enjoy at a price. The question is, what is that price? For me this watch offered at a higher price than I think a similar one can be bought elsewhere.

Lot 209 Estimate 8000-12000

OMEGA SPEEDMASTER CIRCA 1962, REF. 2998-5 WITH “ALPHA” HANDS

There has been a flurry of 2998’s selling for big prices recently, but the high rices were for earlier models with short indices dials, and the high prices were for very attractive browns. I still think the black dial BASE 1000 2998’s price is around $25,000 – $45,000. and this watch can give us some clues why there is such a range. This watch is priced lower than all the others but with good reason.

The dial is poor, the plots are dirty and discolored. The bezel is incorrect, and the watch does not work. Its funny, because if this was presented as a barn find, people might go mad for it. But it is not a barn find, I think this watch has had a lot of internal work and not all of it good. (This is a GUESS. I suggest you have a look inside and be surprised and delighted if you find pristine screws in a clean movement).  Actually we do not know the movement number to check against other known examples.

There are going to be questions about the originality that will only answered by holding it and opening it.

At the low estimate, it should be worth buying, but bidding over the top estimate might need caution as remember this watch will always have a poor dial and still needs a bezel – and a service.

For comparables Chrono24 is your friend.

Good luck in the sale, keep all eyes open in this crazy time. Speedmasters are selling hard, they are flavor of the month, even the year. But when the music stops, make sure you are holding one that makes your heart sing with pleasure, as you may be looking at it for a while if that time comes. (And I could easily be a sour voice in the wind and speedmasters will continue their meteoric rise in value).