Phillips 2915-1 Sold for $412,000

The worlds most expensive speedmaster sold at Phillips Auction House. You can see the original Hi Res from the Phillips listing here

This sold for a huge sum, CHF408,000 including premium.

Here is a better photo of the Phillips watch:

We can see it exhibits correct 2915-1 characteristics, in that it has the correct dial with a dome, short sub dial indices, AML, and SWISS MADE, and a flat oval in Omega. The Condition Report, (not the catalog description, notes the dial is re lumed with tritium).

It has the Speedmaster engraving at the edge of the back:

The catalog is glowing in its description, and I must admit it does excite me:

 “The present Speedmaster example is however one of the extremely scarce -1 iterations, and furthermore preserved in extremely attractive condition: the dial is virtually flawless and has turned a perfectly balanced and harmonious dark chocolate color, the luminous material has evenly aged to an outstandingly attractive intense tobacco hue. According to the Archives of Omega, it was sold in Costa Rica on December 17, 1958. This would suggest a mid-1958 production date which perfectly matches some details of the specimen: the caseback is still blank, without Seahorse engraving, and this is possibly one of the very last examples made with this caseback. The bezel instead is a Mark II version, with rounded 3 instead of flat one. Mid-1958 is exactly halfway through the production run of the model, a detail which perfectly explains this rare “transitional” configuration.

Considering how intensively these wristwatches were used by their original owners, it is an extremely rare occurrence for a 2915-1 to arrive to us in such an unspoiled condition. In fact, it was common practice at the time to heavily polish the case during service, and also to change various parts of the watch (bezel, pushers, crown) to a later version in order to maintain and/or improve the water resistance of the piece. Luckily, this appears to be the exception that proves the rule; actually, the watch is offered even with its original box and instruction leaflet, giving additional insight into the “first purchase experience” reserved to the buyers in 1958.” – Extracted from Phillips description

So to summarise, this is a special example of the first Speedmaster, with a Chocolate dial and apparently original specification, with box, papers and an extract. It ticks all the boxes for an ignorant  naive “Investor” buyer and is a testament to Phillips ability to present a watch, which is frankly, fantastic. (the presentation!).

So what should we be worried about? In no particular order:

  • Is the bezel original?
  • Are the hands original?
  • Has the case been Polished?
  • Does the whole package ring true?

The bezel is always a worry in this reference – the reproductions are very good, but more challenging is the fact that we cannot see many examples of known original bezels. The fact this is a simple steel ring, that has been engraved, makes it straightforward to reproduce, though obviously requiring skills I for one do not have. This watch has inspired a lot of discussion by Orchi on Instagram Here . He makes the point that a pantograph cannot produce a “Serif” on the letters, that is the little tail of the edge of the symbol. Now I do not know if all the bezels were made by Pantograph, it needs more investigation. Certainly I need to find out what a Pantograph is and what it can do. Here is a close up of the Phillips Bezel:

Detail from the Phillips 2915

For comparison here is the close up of the Bukowski bezel:

The 2915 sold by Bukowski

The Bukowski watch was sold with the description of it being hidden away with one family all its life, so the weight of evidence is that this is an original bezel. As you can see it lacks serifs. Look closely at the “T”s which are straight lines across the top, no drop serifs.

Here is a photo of the whole watch, the listing is still up here

Image from the Bukowskis. This watch was described as being found in the attic by descendants of the original owner. Not the lack of serifs on the bezel, the non matching colour of the lume on the dial and hands, and that the whole watch appears original

So we can safely say the two bezels were not made in the same way.

Going back to the Phillips watch, what about the hands? Again we have little to go on in terms of certified originals, but these ones have a transverse curve and look like they could be original, as opposed to the service hands which are flat. The lume deterioration adds to the impression but that can be created by skilled craftsmen. EDIT: I missed the updated catalog description that actually calls this a relume – It is carefully worded to say, “some time ago…” but it is still a confirmed relume. (Thanks to Mr Inox for sending me the condition report that was not accessible to me).

What goes against this as having original hands is that they are matching in colour with the dial plots, and this is something I now associate with possible re lumes. Again comparing the Bukowski watch where we see a difference in colour between the hand lume and the dial plots.

Cases are always polished, to some extent. In the case of all the watches on this page they have been polished but not destroyed. And at least the cases have not been rebuilt like the 2915-1 sold by Christies for an unforgivable $137,000 in December 2015.

So what about the price? Well when the Bukowski watch sold for $275,000 and the thoughts among my friends was it was an outlier, where someone really believed the story, (and why not) and two people really wanted it. We did not think it was a repeatable price. How wrong I was.

More I think will be revealed when this, Lot 9, a 2915 -1 sells at Christies in June. The link is here

A quick precis of my opinion on this is that the dial is round oval, where I would like to see an oval in “Omega”. The short incies sub dial is there, and the AML. The hands, from this one photograph look a little flat and I would like to eliminate the possibility they are later additions, especially given the matchi – matchi lume colour.

The bezel lacks any serifs.

So where are we with 2915’s?
Well I think I have learned a little for the bezels, and I have some direction to research. The prices are looking like they are headed upwards but there are so few available it is hard to really name the price as high or low.

Lets see what happens at Christies.

Time to Say Goodbye

…to this lovely example of a 145.022-71. I rarely sell watches, and when I do its with good reason.

In my experience these are very rare, and I have been looking for one for six years. Then last year, I found myself committed to buying two at once, and I am trying to keep only one of each reference, so this one goes.

This one has the smooth back, or “No Nasa” as we now call it. I was told that the reason this came about was a delay in Omega negotiating with NASA the rights to the wording on the watch that we all now know.

“Less is more” The watch is rarer and desirable because it lacks the engraving normally seen on medallion casebacks.

What made this watch even more special is that it is the actual watch featured in MoonWatch Only.

So now I am saying goodbye, and the watch is off to its next custodian.

A few revisions.

I have gone through some of the early pages and brought them up to date.

The price chart is updated, but honestly it is becoming a thankless task as rising values have brought in Asset Class buyers and vested interests, all of whom have an opinion, and frankly they care more about values than the watches.

Another side effect of rising prices is that I cannot buy like I used to. My entire annual spending on watches eight years ago might buy a couple of watches today.


The Black Racing Sold at Phillips

From the Spring Geneva Sale 2018

(All photos are harvested from the Phillips site and used pending permission – they would be removed if I am asked)

First up is the Black Racing Dial Speedmaster, the 145.012-67. It comes with its original sales document. I must confess this is my favorite speedmaster reference.

Estimate was much lower than any Black Racing has been offered on the market recently. It sold for CHF40,000 which while double the estimate was half what other examples have sold for at auction. There are several good reasons why:

The bezel is correct, but damaged. This is but one example of how damaged the bezel is – a generally shagged bezel. But it does suit the rest of the watch and I would not change it if I was the new owner. (Which I am not).

The dial condition is poor. If a dial this damaged was on an “ordinary” 145.012 it would be dismissed as unwanted by most collectors. here we see missing plots, and also chrono creep, though that would never stop me buying a rare watch like this.

Here we see more printing missing from the track

And the worst damage is up here at the top, right where it strikes the eyes. The Hour and Minute hands are missing all lume, but that is an minor issue.

The big issue for me is the lack of extract. Omega will issue an extract for these black racing dials stating the dial as having red indices. There are some black racing dial watches in circulation that do not have this on an extract and the dials might be fitted after production. I personally know of two watches in this state. So that will affect the value – maybe the new owner will get an extract showing a racing dial, which will be nice.

The condition of this watch is, frankly poor. However, I would have loved to own it for the low estimate – which tells me it is not a watch to be dismissed. Sometimes poor condition rare wachtches can give enormous pleasure of ownership, and I feel this one is in that category. Now the price of this one was very high, half what a good one fetches – this to me indicates either that prices of the good ones need to be higher, OR we are in an inflationary period where mediocre condition watches are fetching prices that the owners would find hard to recuperate for several years after purchase.

The last thing I want to discuss with this watch, is what might happen to it next. A dealer may well decide that it is worth restoring, and with over $30,000 to play with thats a lot of room to work on the dial, relume the hands, replace the bezel and go for an extract – perhaps we could see the watch in a future major auction. The good thing about these Omegas, is that there are so few of them  (unlike Daytonas), that the collector community will probably notice them.

There are three other Speedmasters to look at, stay tuned to the blog and we will look at them….