A franken speedmaster on Ebay

Here is what looks like a watch built up from parts in a watch makers box left over from several Speedmaster restorations, or as I have come to learn the term, “Optimizations” – this is where the best parts are swapped around from several watches, leaving one very good one, and by default, a collection of very bad parts at the end.

It is from a watch like this we can learn quite a lot. As always we must look for the serial and the case reference. In this case, as declared by the seller, the bridge has been replaced with an un numbered bridge.

Note the new blank bridge, at the right of the photo.

So we look to inside the case back and see:

So we have an un numbered movement, in a 105.012-65 case. It is a pointless exercise to try and ascertain which parts are original to the watch, but we can try to see if any are period correct.

Dial has lost all of the lume, and also some of the underlying paint. So a simple re lume will not help this dial, the under coat of the plot must be re applied. Also note there is damage to the minute track. The T SWISS MADE T markings are hard to verify.

The minute and hour hand look bent, and two of the subdial hands are missing entirely. The square ended Chrono hand is seen on later references.Note also the position of the pinions that the running seconds and the minute recorder in the dial holes. The Dial is not sitting comfortably. So there may be damage to its feet, or it may have lost one or both. So this dial may need plot paint, re lume and feet to be usable. Quite an investment for something that will never look any good – there is nothing to be done to repair the track, or lack of SWISS markings.

A rare bit of good news is the pushers, which look original fat neck pushers. These are very hard to find, and will transform and otherwise good 105.012 with service pushers to a period correct one. The crown is an unknown to me, I cannot be sure.

The case itself shows some polishing at the back, where we can see a lack of definition in the bevel and the circle around the seamonster which should be sharp and defined.:

The movement is in a decayed state, and has had the number bridge replaced with a blank. The dust cover should be a polished one and so this one is from a later reference.

When looking at the viability of a movement, or as spares source, I look to the column wheel to see it has all its teeth. Then the shiny metal part which engages with it, (looks a bit like a cartoon octopus) both of which are unavailable from Omega. The rest of the parts while looking rusted, may well clean up. So we have a substantially useful movement.

Note the “hammer” upper let, the light silver coloured complex shape – thats rare. As soon as I can I will learn its real name, for now its #1728 . All other dirty/rusted parts should clean up.

So why has this watch already reached $2300 after 37 bids with five days to run? Perhaps the parts could be worth all that, or if you are after a movement part and the pushers. Keep an eye on it here.

All photos are from the listing, and I have no connection to the watch, I just thought it was interesting to discuss.

145.012-67 at HQMilton

First I have no connection to HQM or the watch.

This reference is the cheapest calibre 321 speedmaster, and often has been the most neglected. As such, some times it is broken for parts and many of the bezels seen loose for sale will be from this reference. Most on the market start at around the $7,000 mark, and I have seen a mint boxed and papered watch go for $15,000 but that is/was unique in my experience.

Photo linked from HQM site.

Here is a watch that at first glance ticks boxes – it is the right DO90 bezel, showing commensurate patina to the rest of the watch. The hands look correct but service replacements, and in general the watch looks ok – with issues. Primarily being the declaration of the original dial being relumed, by Omega.

Now the price is $5350 – This is cheap, and explains the Speedmaster Chop Shop on instagram (He is called something else, and if you really need him you will find him). If we break down the parts here, and attach values similar to those prices being asked for parts we get:

  • Case $1850
  • Bezel $2250
  • Movement $2500 (more if confirmed by an extract)
  • Pushers $100
  • Crown $50
  • Hands $100
  • Dial (even with re lume) $1,000

Now you can argue the numbers, especially the dial, but I don’t think I am miles away. Another thing to remember is that while these numbers all add up, you do have to sell everything to get the benefit – and how many people need a movement at the moment? I think not so many and I also think prices for these parts may be on the way down.

Will this watch sell complete? I do hope so. For me it has some positives. The watch is less expensive than any watch on Chrono24, by about $2000. Then when you examine them, the first five (at the time of writing) have service dials or bezels.

Here is just two examples from Chrono 24

On offer from C24 at $7385. Note the service dial and hands AND bezel
Also on C24, this one is asking $7158. It also has service dial, hands and bezel.

So the HQM watch, photo below, does seem a better watch all round, even before we take into account the price. I mean it has a DO90 bezel! I realize $5350 is still a lot of money, but this does appear waaaay under the asking price anywhere else in the market. I hope I have not missed something!
Image from HQM site

A quick check the movement looks original:

The movement: Looks ok to me, the number is annoyingly blotted out so I cannot reconcile with other known 145.012’s but it is close. The condition is good, with no obvious damage or dirt, and all visible parts correct and complete.

Now the watch does have issues:

  • The dial, the plots are declared re lumed, though to me they look free of any luminous material.
  • The hands are probably service, and would benefit from restoration
  • The dust cover is a modern service part.
  • Pushers and crown are almost certainly service, but no bad thing on this reference.

Should you buy it?

Well I am not trying to recommend you do, only that I get dozens of emails asking if a watch is worth buying or could I recommend a watch. I am quite surprised no one has asked my opinion on this. If you are going for a less expensive 321 Speedmaster then I would definitely look at this. Once again, I have no connection to HQM or this watch, but I have dealt with them on several watches and I trust them. (trust but verify when it comes to any seller of vintage watches i.e independently verify the watch once you trust the dealer.)

You can see the listing on HQ Milton Site here

An Ebay 105.003

Now I have sympathy for New York dealers, as I imagine life is so intense that things get glossed over. They dont have time to slowly check things over, or they are just plain careless. Here is a Speedmaster offered on Ebay

Look at that! A nice full set, box and papers. Hold on, look at the papers, then look at the case. Something is not adding up. Asymmetrical reference on the papers and a straight lug case!

So papers show a 105.012 with a serial 24533975. This is not an asymmetric case. The dial is non pro so definitely not a 105.012.

These plots by the way are what I refer to as Algae coloured. Close spaced T marks indicate an early dial. But not a 105.012 dial, so has it had all the parts changed? We have to check the movement and case back:

Well its very blurry but we can definitely see the movement is 2282xxxx and not that on the document.

What about the case back? here we see its a 105.003-65

So my conclusion is that it is simply the wrong papers for the watch. There might be papers and the seller made a mistake, (New York rushing?) and the real papers are somewhere. I cannot believe this is a deliberate attempt to deceive as it is so blatant.

Is the watch worth buying?

Current bid, with 9 days to go, is $4500, so I am sure it will be bid to more. At this level its definitely a buy, but for how much longer? The main problem is of course the dial. Its a decayed, pond-life dial. No life, or colour to attract. So we have to remove a large chunk of value for the dial. The case is tired as is the bezel, but correct. We have to ignore the papers, (or ask the vendor if he does have matching ones and made an error in the photos).

There are not many correct Ed Whites on the market for less than $10,000 and any that are will have much to discuss. The question always is, can you live with a watch with issues if it is cheap, and how cheap is cheap?

Thats the fun of collecting these. For me, that dial will always make it a no. Unless we can factor in the cost of a new dial. Last time I saw, a nice Ed White dial was around $4500 if you could find it.

Something I have not seen before: Lemania Bridge

Selling on Ebay, and fully declared by the seller, is this 145.012 with a bridge that is labeled Lemania. Here is an example of what it should look like:

So we can see the “horseshoe”shaped bridge is identical except for the markings. I must say that I may have been caught out, had it not been brought to my attention. Going forward, I will not as it has been added into my brain’s automatic checklist.

Now since we are here lets check out the watch, and see if its worth buying. The ebay link is here

Its an unusual combination of silver degraded bezel and bright yellow plots on a black stepped dial. That is definitely a super-ghost bezel for sure, and the dial plot colour is strikingly even and fresh, like cake icing. The rest of the dial looks in very good condition. The hands in contrast are a little grubby.

Lets have a close look at a plot.

What I see here is a very even colour throughout the plot, and also that all the plots are exactly the same. They all have a fresh look to them, and the colour is pleasing. So pleasing in fact it is the colour one might chose if one could. One of the contributing pieces of evidence against a re lume is that the hands are so degraded by comparison – most people will do the hands and the dial at the same time.

Now we look at the bezel. A bezel as degraded as this has seen a lot of something to cause that level of fade, and indeed abrasion damage. This is not reflected in the state of the case – not at all, look at this:

We see pretty well defined lines and finish on the case, so suggests that the case has not been through what the bezel has.

So we have a dial with fresh looking plots, grubby hands which are unlikely to have experienced life in the same watch until now.

The same goes for the case and bezel that also show different levels of aging.

So my conclusion is that this watch has been assembled with parts that originally came from other watches.

It is possible the dial has been re lumed, or that it is a very fine dial, out of keeping with the rest of the watch. If I had to bet, I would say it was re lumed and that the hands simply were not done.

The movement has a non Omega part – understandable if done during the time when 145.012’s were trading for about double what a service cost, so people sought independents and cut corners.

Currently this watch sits at about $3600 and at that level its going to give someone some pleasure if they go in with eyes open, and prepared to find the lume is re applied. If it heads much higher, and by that I mean in excess of $5000, then I think that might be a little strong.

This watch underlines my attitude that at the right price, and incorrect watch can give pleasure for the wearer, as long as they know what they are buying. After all, a top example of a 145.012 will be over $12,000

A family owned Speedmaster

One of the great pleasures of this site is the people I meet, who have one watch and very different lives to mine. I corresponded with a gentleman in the west of England for months about this watch, and eventually I managed to drive down and meet him. The watch belonged to his friend, who told me the watch had remained unused for many years after the late original owner departed. It has clearly been used well. I did not know for sure what it was.

This watch was quite a quandary to value. Until I arrived, we did not know what the reference was. The dial is an AML with T marks – I did not capture that in the photos. It would appear it is well hidden under the silver rehaut.

The hands look to me like service items. Note the flat surface, and the sharp square ends of the lume slots.

The chrono hand looks original, and is a lovely thing to have. They are surprisingly unavailable in the secondary market – the Omega service item is an ugly, fat tailed thing that looks terrible.

This watch has a big dent in the lug: (oops! – Destroying, literally decimating the value)

In the shot above, we can see the dent. A candidate for laser filling perhaps? trouble is once you go down that route, the whole watch will be refinished.

Note also the lume, which appears original, and the corrosion on the pusher necks. If these have been replaced, (and the rest of the watch suggests they probably were) then they are original and old Omega parts, suggesting the last service was some time ago – especially bearing in mind the T mark dial.

Another view, showing the marked crystal. The bezel is a very nice DO90 – with quite a lot of dirt obscuring what I think is a near perfect example.

I have opened the watch, and it is a 2998-1 with an appropriate looking serial number. It was clearly serviced, and now carries non original dial, hands and bezel. My next step is to decide how best to bring this watch back. I have a 2998 dial, but no bezel, and I have a 105.003 that will love this dial as it currently has a service one.

Unfortunately I am now away once more, and the watches are back locked in the bank. As soon as I can, I will update with more photos of this interesting, though incorrect watch, and what I decide to do with it.