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A New Private Purchase

I was recently contacted by a gentleman from Tulsa called Mike, who asked if I would be interested in his late brothers watch who sadly passed away at the beginning of this year. We corresponded for a while and it became clear to me this was a watch that while not super valuable, was one that I was drawn to.  A one owner watch, worn and enjoyed. As you will see, it has had the bezel replaced and is not running, it is dirty and slightly banged up.

Mikes brother was known as T, and Mike told me his brother returned from Vietnam and showed him the watch.

Here are Mikes words to me:

I enjoyed your details of a Navy service Omega that you purchased from the estate. I too have an Omega Speedmaster professional that I inherited from my younger brother when he passed away on January 1st, 2017. My brother was in the Navy aboard the USS Hancock, an aircraft carrier that has since been decomsioned, when he bought the watch around 1967.

I don’t know where he bought it but he told me it was new when he got it. He served as a radioman while the Hancock was in the Gulf of Tonkin during the Vietnam conflict. Not knowing anything about the watch I took it to a Jeweler to see what it would take to check it out and see what was needed to service it. He sent it to a vintage watch shop here in Tulsa and they got back to him saying it needed a main spring and one was ordered. To date nothing has been done to the watch,still waiting on the main spring. The jeweler said the Omega was a valuable watch even though it was missing the wrist band.

So first thing I said to Mike was…Get it back from the Jeweler and dont do ANYTHING to it! Luckily, as you can see, he did.

And I cant help doing a bit of research – here is the USS Hancock underway. (The top image is the flight deck) Here I choose to think that T is down there with his speedmaster…(!)

Photo Credit: Bill Larkins [wtl@earthlink.net]

Back to the watch. As we can see it has some damage to the tip of the chrono and also the minute recorder hand is corroded. The bezel has faded to an attractive grey and is from later than the watch and was almost certainly replaced at service.

So here we can see the evidence of ownership, dirt under the bezel, damage to the case and general wear. (I love all that – shows it has not been messed around, or prepared for sale).

This watch is so clearly a one owner watch, with each part clearly existing on the watch for some time. Even the bezel has melded into the watch, (If that makes sense) in such a way that it looks right, even though it is slightly later than the watch.

Any small thoughts I might have had of selling this watch were dashed when Mike sent me this brief, but moving email:

William,
Your payment arrived at my bank Tuesday and I thank you for giving my brothers Omega a resting place where it will be remembered and appreciated. I’m glad I saw your website and decided to contact you. Your appreciation for a watch with a military history is what drew me and I’m so glad we were able to transfer ownership of a watch with a connection. I too regret not having a picture of T wearing the watch. I at least have a memory of T wearing the watch the first time I saw him on returning from Vietnam. He proudly showed it to me as one of the good things that came from his adventure into the military.

I really don’t sell many watches, but this one has been entrusted to me so it will be staying. I will sell all my 145.012’s before this one goes. (And that is quite a few, so its safe).

For those who are interested the USS Hancock has very interesting history here.

My next step is to send this watch to the Magical Simon Freese who is quite the most sympathetic and efficient repairer and restorer of speedmasters. I will also order an extract – you never know where T might have bought his watch from.

I shall be leaving this watch as is. I think I will not even repair the hands, rather I want to keep this watch just as it looked the last time the owner took it off.

Leather Case From Bosphorous Straps

I love a leather case, me. I have long wanted a nice travel/display case.

I do not make a habit of reviews and until now, I have only endorsed my friends Paul’s opener. I have no financial interest in this or any other product I write about, just that if something is good enough for me, then many readers would want one too.

I have wanted a watch case for years, something I can go to a watch meet with and discuss watches without throwing bubble wrap and Ziplocs about. Something that also gives me pleasure to own and use.

I saw this on Instagram, with this company in Turkey and fired off about $600 across the ether without even doing any due diligence. I was so exited. Then after a few weeks of silence, I realised I had only an initial email and no case. And I didn’t even know anything about the seller except he was in Istanbul. (My wife reckons that Istanbul is a great leather source). Worried I sent off an email, and the charming proprietor wrote back to say he had sent  the case….but to another customer by mistake. He immediately shipped another, but with eight instead to of 10 slots.

He promised to send another tray imminently when he had made one. (Its on its way.)

When this arrived I was thrilled. The case is very solid. The tray fits well, and can be removed for storage in a safe. The lip of the case is not stepped, and this is the only thing I would change – but as it is I am happy because the case shell is very rigid and solid.

The case is made with distressed vintage style leather, and it appears to all be of fine work and top materials:

Here is the website, and the gentleman I wrote to is called Adem.

As I said before, I have no affiliation to this company, I just love his cases.

https://www.bosphorusleather.com/watch-travel-case

A Value Discussion on 105.003’s

There have been more 105.003’s sold in the last year than any other straight lug speedmaster reference combined. The value range has been between £4500 (Roughly $6000) and $45,000. These are public auction values – any of us could have bought them.

Most 15.003’s fall in the $10,000 to $20,000 and this can be the most difficult to differentiate. It is not simply a question of a watch being correct vs incorrect, it is about knowing your own taste and what you like, and what incorrect characteristics you will accept for a reduction in value.

Two 105.003’s, both the rarer -63

On inspection in just one photo it is clear that one is “better” than the other. By better, I mean it is worth much more. However the better one is not perfect, and so it is interesting to go through.

First we have to acknowledge that the left hand watch carries a bezel worth $5000 and the right is barely $1000.

We can see the left hand watch has the 32 tooth crown, and the right the 24 tooth. I prefer to see the 24 tooth. Note also the case differences, the left hand watch has a (well) refinished case, with close to original lines and finishes. The right hand watch is well worn, and possibly polished also. When people offer “unpolished” watches they mostly do not know what they are talking about and are just parroting words. It is possible to have a truly unpolished watch, but very unusual. Most of these have been serviced and the watchmakers would tidy a case as a matter of course.

As we look at the photos the dial differences become more and more pronounced. Also we can see the pushers on both watches are original, and this is becoming more and more valued. Service pushers are the same size but look different. (Better made!).

Certainly the left hand watch is “Cleaner” but some will prefer the look of the case on the right hand watch

Both watches are serviced, and 100% correct. Therefore the only difference is in the aesthetics. This is where it can get really interesting, and we have to look hard at the dials, handsets and bezels.

As you can see this dial is not perfect, although to be fair the blemishes are accentuated in my lighting and are not easily visible to the naked eye. The plots re good, an attractive colour and the hands are nicely aged.

The dial above has problems – it is good from far and far from good – and it is here we can see the values of these two watches diverge.

This dial has paint loss at the bottom, and has lost the first T mark. There are blotches all over the dial. The plots are wobbly and cause some to ask is it retouched? (Not by me is all I can say – 105003’s are notorious for wobbling). I think it is natural. The hands also beg questions, but as I have a confirmed one owner untouched watch that has hands that look like this I can accept it as natural.

So which is worth what?

Well to be honest thats up to you.

For me, one is double the value of the other, and the better one  would never sell.

 

A Black Racing Dial – One Owner

Here is another one owner watch I have been lucky enough to acquire. It arrived a little time ago, and it came with the original paperwork from sale.

It is a 145.012-68 with a black Racing Dial. These dials are extremely rare and there are about 10 examples known, and I guess there may be 20 to 30 examples in existence.

It is currently at the workshop being serviced and cleaned. Here it is as arrived, complete with all the dirt.

…and the chrono creep:

Here it is, assembled, cleaned and serviced.

As is usual with watches I “restore” I try to change as little as possible.

Not the missing lume on the red hand – I decided to leave it. I simply serviced to movement and made sure there was nothing loose.

An interesting 145.012

The most common calibre 321 reference. It came in two almost identical executions the -67 and -68.

As far as I can tell, this is the only difference, the date in the back. The -68 is quite elusive and I have seen very few for sale. My own example is very unusual in that not only is it unoriginal, it is interesting enough to be in my “Full Set”.

Here we see it, and the sharp eyes will see that the dial indices, the plots, are short. It has a painted logo, and short spaced T marks. A service dial.

The dial has no step.  It is not flat, it is domed like late 1970’s dials fitted to the 145.022-74+. This is not a dial style I have ever seen fitted from the factory on a new calibre 321 watch.

So what happened? Well my own involvement with this watch was when I spoke to an Australian airline pilot who wanted to sell his watch, that he had since new. I had been regularly serviced, (Note the inner case back in the heading with all the service marks) and at least one of these times it was sent to Bienne.

I am guessing this might have been serviced in the late 1970’s. Where they fitted the dial, handset and bezel – which is a mid 1970’s bezel.

Although the dial is a service dial, it is very rare, and very attractive. And that is why I keep it in my full set, because it looks wonderful, and it is rare.

 

NoNASA 145.022-71

My latest arrival is a very rare 145.022-71.

145.022-71 in very fine condition

Normally -71’s  all come with a commemorative engraving that we are all very familiar with. This one is smooth backed around the Medalion, and is known as a “NoNASA”. I have been looking for one of these and one of my fellow collectors kindly let me buy this from him.

View of the case back showing the smooth back.

Inside the case back:

Inside the case back, showing one watchmakers mark.

The movement is in very good condition.

The movement, 32m serial. The pushers look new.

Some more views of that rare back;

This watch carries the correct bezel, a stepped dial and correct tritium hands. It is a lovely thing.

Sunlight Photo. Overall this is in very nice condition.

Overall that this is one of my most pleasing purchases.

Blue Soleil Dial

A very rare watch.

I believe, in the absence of a better theory that these blue, metallic dials are in fact service dials fitted by Omega. Why?

  • There is no known listing of these dials that suggests that this was an option to buy new in a speedmaster – there are no contemporary photos or catalogs showing a blue metallic dial.. (But nor was the Ultraman which the museum has recently announced is a “Real Model”)
  • There are very few seen, and to my knowledge these have been seen on 2998, 105.003 and 145.012.
  • I have seen three different executions. A short indices non pro, a long indices dial non pro, and a short indices 145.012 professional dial. (This last one out of my grasp – I call it the Time Titans watch, as I saw it with them several years ago and I failed to buy it).

I will be happy to be shown another theory but this is what I have so far.

Here is a very curious example. It has the blue metallic dial that I call Soliel. This dial body colour is also seen on Omega TV dials and some Seamasters, but never in a production 321/861 speedmaster.

This is a 2998. Even though it lacks the hands we would expect to see, that is what is inside the caseback and the serial matches my observations for this particular reference.

As you can see the hands have been replaced with baton hands, which might fit with the idea that this watch had a substantial service and parts replacement, perhaps with Omega.

I believe that this watch is a correct Omega watch, because I was told by an auction house that a blue dial that I bought was under bid by the museum.

 

Antiquorum Post updated to show prices

The Antiquorum sale passed by without any major price surprises, apart from my own surprise that they found homes at all – for some of them were really poor, shoddy examples masquerading as interesting.

Scroll down and you will see the updated post.

You can see Antiquorum’s full price list here.

Antiquroum Geneva 14th May

I have updated the page to show sold prices.

Antiquorum are having a sale in Geneva on 14th may.

AQ are having a web re branding and have now adopted the web address “.SWISS”. Confusing as the old .com is still active, yet out of date. The new site is www.antiquorum.swiss

On to the Speedmasters. Quite a few this time, and some have problems. AQ really is a notch down in terms of its curating. That doesn’t bother me, but we must remember to be even more vigilant when viewing at this House;

Lot 365 145.012-67 Estimate $4500-6500

Sold For $9375

Good bezel, nice colour plots, all correct as far as I can see. A good watch I think. The end link looks wrong but that is minor. I like the look of this watch, but we have to be careful. That red background is flattering, as is the whole photo. Because of that 1mm gap in the endlink, I am suspicious of everything, so I would like to inspect in hand before bidding. As I say this is a common theme with Antiquorum lots.

Lot 366 145012-67 Estimate $4000-6000

Sold For $6250

This is showing some dirt around the pushers and crown. Also the case lugs look a little “soft” indicating too much polishing. The plots are dirty but there is some luminous material present. Bezel is not so nice and shows signs of repairs with a felt pen or paint.  This is not as attractive as the previous lot. It comes without a bracelet and is a much less attractive buy than the first. However a viewing of all these watches might change all our minds, but I do not think this watch will ever be fine.

Lot 370 105.012-66 Estimate $5000-7000

Sold For $7500

A real tart, this one. Good from far and far from good. I suppose this is an HF case judging by the lug shape, and lack of facet line. This is the first of some smelly lots, and I  am deeply wary of it. The bezel is an unusual colour, and especially so given the presence of similar looking bezels on the following lots. Also the similar straps indicate that they were strapped by the same person. Either the auction house, or the consignor, who may possibly Italian from the look of these watches, which are very attractive on first presentation. This watch has orange plots and matching hands, and this odd brown bezel. The Chrono hand is the wrong square ended one, and yet the lume is perfectly matching. I think this watch has been prepared. At least the pushers are the thick tubed originals with short caps. My thinking on this lot and the following can be taken together.

Lot 371 105.012-65 Estimate $4000-6000

Sold For $7500

So now you see what I mean – Similar orange plots (though not quite so orange, but similar looking), matching lume on the hands and that brown bezel, along with the same style strap. These watches cannot be original. This one has service pushers, not a crime but in the 105.012 it is more obvious than other references.

At the low estimate these will be nice looking watches, but they are not in my opinion original and therefore not worth going “Medieval”on the bidding.

They are attractive, but both this and the previous lot lot appear to have been prepared for sale. The bezels make me deeply suspicious. They are never going to be valuable watches, but this is exactly what I am talking about when I discuss poor quality watches being dragged to higher values that they do not really deserve – to be discovered later when the market consolidated as buyers become educated.

Lot 375 145.022-74 Estimate $3000-5000

Sold for $3750

Another similar strap, and a bleached looking bezel. For this watch I would want to see if it has a stepped dial, which is more valuable. I do think this is more expensive by comparison. It still smells of a dealer to me.

Lot 376 105.003-65 Estimate $20,000 – 30,000

Sold For $25,000

This looks like it could be really nice. The dial appears to be in fine condition and a lovely colour. This MUST be viewed as the slightest deviation from fine in terms of colour and condition and the value will plummet. I have a feeling this will fly.

It looks in correct condition, case is a little polished but they all are.

I really like the look of this, and I feel it could go in excess of the high estimate because of that dial – it all depends on what it looks like in real life.