Bonhams Auction Feb 2019

I have done well in the past, finding original watches from this auction house. It is important as ever to view an expensive watch in person, especially to check it really is as attractive as we might think.

This particular auction is poorly presented. I really do feel that if you want to maximise the price then more than one photograph is essential, and offering these photographs with so much post processing or over exposure, is not going to help buyers reach a maximum bid if they cannot determine the colours on the dial.

All photos are from the Bonhams site, and if you follow the links you can see high resolution.

Here is the first speedmaster offered:

Lot 103 Omega. A stainless steel manual wind chronograph bracelet watch Speedmaster, Ref: ST 105.003-65, Sold 28th December 1967

Estimate is £ 8,000 – £ 12,000 plus 25% Commission

Link to Listing

We have just one photograph to go on here, but there is still quite a lot of information, in both the image and the description. First if we look at the photo, we see that the dial looks correct, but the over exposure is hiding the true nature of the lume colour – and indeed the dial colour. Bidding on this photo alone will be a gamble. Look at the 4 o’clock marker, this is showing damage at the step.

Around the dial, the minute track is showing inconsistencies, but I think this may well be crystal damage distorting what we see. With only one image, it is impossible to determine for sure.

The whole look of the lume is worrying, and the colour indicates we need to check carefully if indeed there is lume on the plots at all. I think there may be, but what colour it actually is needs to be determined.

The bezel, always an important factor in the value, is original looking, and damaged. In my mind, I give bezels a mark out of five, as a top DO90 is $5000. So this one is about a 2.5/5 giving is a nominal value of $2500 for the purposes of determining this watches total value.

The watch comes on a correct 1039 bracelet, and this also adds to the value. The endlinks do look a little sloppy between the lugs

The pushers and crown do look original, and over all this watch may well be a very good basis for a sympathetically restored original piece.

This is underlined by the description, which includes the original paperwork, box and archive information (without actually saying they have the archive!) making this a very desirable basis.

However, it all depends on what this watch looks like in hand. I really do not understand why Bonhams cannot produce a better photograph. It is pretty inexcusable really.

So as you can tell, I am torn. This watch presents as an original watch, with the correct bracelet, and extract, and box and papers. This is wonderful to have such an original appearing complete set. The thing is, I am not sure it will look very nice if the plots are white and missing lume.

You have to see it.

On now to the next, lot 107

Lot 107 Omega. A stainless steel manual wind chronograph bracelet watch Speedmaster Professional, Ref: 145.012-67 SP, Circa 1967

Estimate is £ 5,000 – 7,000 plus 25% Commission

Link to Listing

This watch has some red flags immediately. First is that the bracelet is a service item, marked 1171/1 – so not an original watch. Possibly no harm, but does make me be extra vigilant. There is also no provenance in the form of an extract, or papers. It is just a watch dumped into the auction possibly by a collector or dealer, it does not “feel” like it comes from an original owner. Sometimes you have to go with intuition.

But is it worth buying? Sometimes it is, if the watch has been cared for. Getting the picture of the site was challenging, so I suggest you toggle to it directly, using the link above.

The 145.012 is a reference we see sometimes bought and broken for parts, and so in a way they are easier to value, in the cold valuation of components. Here we have a bezel that is probably a 2/5 or less. It is damaged near the 80 mark as well as various chips.

The dial has remnants of lume, but the printing is all there, and the dial might just have an attractive body colour.

Everything else looks ok, not special or in particulary special overall condition, so I would not expect this watch to pique interest like the previous lot might. I think for what it is, it is just a little too high in the estimate. I would be surprised if this sells.

Lot 117 Omega. A stainless steel manual wind chronograph bracelet watch Speedmaster ‘Ed White’, Ref: ST 105.003-65, Circa 1966

Estimate £ 5,000 – 7,000 plus 25% Commission

Link to listing

This is quite a different animal to the first Ed White. The bezel is bleached out, though correct, and while the term ghost bezel is attached to these, I do not rate them. The dial is really quite damaged, as we can see here:

I would say the dial has spent time out side of a case.

The position of the chrono hours hand would suggest the movmeent needs a service and in general the dial is not so fine.

This is a watch for a particular person, who enjoys a watch that shows its age. This of course is related to value, and part of the attraction of a watch like this is that it should not cost very much. I think this may well have been over estimated.