A look at a Flawed 2998

Its been a while. For my first post of 2018 let us look at this 2998.

For me, collecting speedmasters is not just about finding flawless examples, mint NOS or unworn watches. While I can see the attraction, and even the value, I find these very high quality watches hard to enjoy on a daily basis, and they sit in the safe.

A far more challenging watch, is one that is not worth top dollar, but has an attraction and draws the attention in a pleasurable way, and is not worth so much money it is too scary to wear. It is about finding a balance, between quality and attraction. And this is, or should be, different for all of us.

Here is one. And my thinking behind it.

Last autumn/winter there was a flurry of very high priced listings for 2998’s and I was not sure if this was a genuine phenomenon. There were some very nice watches (with brown dials) sold for over $75,000 and some fair ones sold for around $25,000.

As an exercise I put this watch up on Ebay in December. I acquired it some while ago with several issues, as well as some really attractive qualities, not least that lollipop. I would have been happy to sell it for $18,000. (I have been offered a single lolipop hand, missing lume, for $5000 – I did not buy it, but I think someone did, two years ago).

A sale was agreed through Ebay at $15,000. I felt at the time that was a little cheap, and thankfully the buyer (from Los Angeles, city of flaky angels in my experience) pulled out. There were several bidders and so I can say that this watch was valued by the market at $15,000

My motive putting it up was to really feel the market. I am not much of a seller, usually when I do it is through Omega Forums, where decent people live, who speak my language. I was very happy the deal did not complete at that level. As my word is my bond, I would have completed if the buyer had proceeded – but I firmly believe that this watch is worth more than $15,000 in parts.

This has all correct parts,  but there are some caveats:

This watch has Omega service alpha hour and minute hands, as indicated by the flat cross sections and square ended lume slots.

They have no transverse curvature, and square ended lume slots. We can clearly see the the sharp slots. For me there is a $2500 difference between flat service hands and original triangular lume hands. There are also correct vintage slot versions, with curved lume ends and curved cross sections that are also valuable, but I value the triangle lume more.

Now we have to look closely at the dial. It has a few issues. Here it is in natural light. I find the base colour of the dial attractive. After establishing that it is a correct dial for the reference, I split my assessment of a dial into four parts:

  • Base Colour
  • Quality of the base (that is blemishes, or freedom from them)
  • Plot condition
  • Printing condition

Its is quite nice, as an old patinated dial, but it is in fair to poor condition. It has (for me) a very attractive colour. However the dial is damaged, has scratches and blemishes and this diminishes the value. A great many collectors would not give this watch a second look.

The lume is not in good condition. Here we see missing luminous paint. I would have expected some white paint where the lume has gone,  but that has fallen off too. (or was removed).

Here we see colour looks smeared on. This immediately alerts us to the idea it might be a relume, and then we need to ask the question does it matter? (At this quality level).

I am leaning toward this being an older, less skilled re – lume.

If I was satisfied this is an older re-lume then I would consider re luming it myself – we would do a far better job.

The more I look the more I am inclined to call it a re lume, and that brings us to the last point, does it affect the value?

In this case I would argue no. The value of this watch as set by the market is $15,000 (I may not agree, but we have an auction value). How much would it be with skilled re laid plots? I would suggest more.

The dial as a whole does have a lot of scratches and damage. As I said, there will be many who dismiss this watch, but I would argue it has more character, and user appeal, than a fine example at double or triple the price. The damage is light, not seriously degraded. To be clear, I do not think this dial is remotely fine, my point is that as a poor dial, it remains attractive as it is without serious damage from moisture or oil, and is unlikely to degrade further from any previous chemical damage.

It also has a scratch that I am told that can be filled. I suspect that would be risky and I do not think I would try it.

Since it failed, I decided not to pursue the sale, and I have been wearing it and enjoying it since. Dare I say, enjoying it more than a more valuable one.

The lollipop hand is very rare. Many of them I have seen have this sloppy-ish lume – I do not know what this indicates, as many of them I see have this over-spill onto the circle of the hand:

I am inclined to think it is re lumed, and that many lollipopsa are re lumed, perhaps the large area makes it hard for the original lume to hang in there all this time.

The bezel is greyish, and evenly slightly degraded. I think it is quite fair and is commensurate to the rest of the watch’s condition. (A factor that contributes to the attraction – the fact that the parts appear to have aged together).

What about the case?

The back is very good, the Hippocampus is well defined. This is not always the state we see double beveled backs in, as the line between the two steps is the first to go when a watch is polished incompetently.

There are a few marks from failed openings. Here we change the lighting and highlight the case marks:

Lets check the case sides. They are quite thick, but like many straight lug speedmasters on the market we see they have been polished. This one has had the original style brushed finish re-laid.

That spot is a deep ding!

To sum up, it is a deeply flawed watch, but one that remains attractive, wearable and enjoyable.

You don’t have to agree, and that is the joy of this world, there is something for everyone.