Sothebys Results 19 July 2019

The sale went ok, given the prevailing winds. Here are the top results for sales of Speedmasters over $20,000

Two pm on a hot Friday in NYC was not the ideal time to get people to spill thier play money in pursuit of an unnecessary toy,which lets face it, we none of us need, so stars have to be aligned to make us all feel good to buy – East coasters all running away stuck in traffic for the weekend, and two am in Hong Kong. So bidders had to be determined.

Added to that was the unforgivable technical hitch that held the sale up over the net at Lot 3. You really would have thought they would have sorted that out, and I think it definitely had an impact. I know at least one buyer who lost interest. Remember, the timing of this sale – Europeans sitting down to a Friday night dinner, New Yorkers miserable in the heat, sitting in a traffic jam or on a train running away from the city, and buyers in Asian drunk in a karaoke bar…I suppose there is always going to be comprimises to be made for the time, but I think 2pm on the hottest day in New York was about the least appealing time for global buyers.

That said there were some sales. Here are the results in price order:

Lot 40 2915-1 $250,000

Lot 40 2915-1 15’996’993 $250,000 – The most expensive lot in the sale. Sothebys and the seller should be thrilled with this result, and indeed it underlines there is a demand for the 2915-1 even today. I admit to being surprised and how well this did.

Lot 17 Alaska III $187,500

Lot 17 145.022 Alaska III 44’818’060 $187,500 – A good result, the same as the last one sold by Phillips. This one lacks the NASA part number, but as long as the Omega Museum verifys it then its all good.

Lot 13 1969 Gold $68,500

Lot 13 BA145.022-69 28’420’772 $68,500 Another good result. Showing tarnish, this might have minimal use, though the bezel is a little damaged. Definitely the better of the two in the sale.

Lot 30 2915-3 Black Bezel and Alphas $50,000

Lot 30 2915-3 16’648’998 $50,000 – This was, in my opinion, the buy of the sale. I should have bought this. Chapeau to the buyer, it was a steal.

Lot 49 1969 Gold $47,500

Lot 49 BA145.022-69 28’420’767 $47,500 – Not quite as good as the previous gold one, but another strong result for this reference, indicating to me the price for these is 30% up on 12 months ago. Both of these watches had the Oval O dial and DO90 bezel which is essential for a strong price.

Lot 27 105.002 in Fine Condition $47,500

Lot 27 105.002-62 19’832’118 $47,500 – An especially good price for the reference, which can be all over the place. This one is in very good condition, arguably the best condition watch in the sale and hence the price – the highest I have seen paid for the reference.

Lot 3 2998-1 Grey BASE1000 $40,000

Lot 3 2998-1 17’301’094 $40,000 – A very attractive watch. The only 2998-1 here, and so not surprising it attracted bidders.

Lot 4 2915-3 Alpha hands $35,000

Lot 4 2915-3 16’648’570 $35,000 – This sold under low estimate, and it is a little sad looking, and so I am not surprised. The bezel may well look poor in real life, and the hands are so obviously re done, with no effort at blending them to the watch. I had a query about the pushers, and it has engraving on the back. So this is the least attractive watch that actually sold. (apart from the service dial Ed White)

Lot 47 105.012 with Buzz’s signature $31,500

Lot 47 105.012-65 24’952’506 $31,500 – A strong price for the reference, but I suspect that on the anniversary of the moon landing, the signature may have swayed buyers. Its a good looking watch, but I wont be taking too much notice of the price for data purposes.

Lot 33 Ultraman $30,000

Lot 33 145.012-67 Ultraman 26’076’555 $30,000. I am sure the buyer will be very pleased.

Lot 21 Tiffany 105.012 $30,000

Lot 21 105.012-65 Tiffany 24’006’784 $30,000 – well over estimate, and I think a good watch that is likely a genuine Tiffany. Of all the double signed references, this is my favorite. A good watch all round, and a fair result.

Lot 39 2998-2 $27,5000

Lot 39 2998-2 17’302’542 $27,500 – This was cheap, and with hindsight another I should have bought. The bezel is fantastic, and the watch is in good condition. The alpha hands are a problem, but nothing $5,000 cannot solve.

Lot 22 105.002 FAP $23,750

Lot 22 105.002-62 19’584’305 $23750 – Seems cheap for a watch with FAP connections, but also it does show lots of use so perhaps price is fair. It seems an honest watch in a market where there is plenty of shenanigans. (The military connections market).

Lot 24 105.003 Soft Grey $23,750

Lot 24 105.003-65 24’537’868 $23,750 – The Alaska III aside, this was the rarest watch in the sale, with very few of these rare grey dials known, and most have terrible damage. So in my opinion this was a good deal for someone.

Lot 38 105.002 $20,000

Lot 38 105.002-62 19’832’987 $20,000 – Was this the sleeper? Is that a brown dial? I think this might be one of the best buys in the sale if that dial looks as nice in real like as those photos suggest it might be.

Sothebys Apollo Aniversary Sale 2019

This Image from the Sothebys Site.
Click on it for my review of the Speedmaster Lots

Sothebys are holding a Speedmaster sale in July. The catalog is here.

Please click through HERE (or photo above to go to the main site where I written several pages about the watches on offer.

Keep checking back as my may ideas change as I receive more information or photos from friends or Sotheby’s staff.

A 2998 Just sold at Sothebys

2998-6 Sold in Sothebys London

This is an attractive example. It has the correct bezel, and pushers and I think crown but I am not sure. The dial has nice looking plots and the hands are the more valuable triangle lume.

The Sotheby’s photos make it hard to read the dial.

This watch sold for £21,250 including premium, which is about $26,700.

It came with an extract and in general we could hope for a better bezel but the price seemed fair to me, subject to the dial being as clean as it looks here.

An Original -74(or-71?) Ending on Ebay Right Now

Here is an interesting 145.022-74 on Ebay UK, currently at 3250 Sterling (circa $4120) with 6 hours to go. Original Listing here

This first image from the listing is a perfect example of a private listing – terrible photo, bad lighting and out of focus. Of course this can, and is replicated by unscrupulous pseudo-dealers but I think this time its genuine. About the only thing I can tell from this photo is that I am interested and want to see more. In the old days we used to bid on watches just on a photo like this.

So I need more. Pretty sure in this next shot, that has more focus, that I can see a step on the dial. So now I am more interested. It is listed as a -74 and I have seen enough step dials in 74’s to feel they are original. However, the description is set by the seller based on a receipt from 1974. It is entirely possible that this in fact a -71

The bracelet is a 1171 and has the trapeze shape logo, indicating this is a contemporary and correct bracelet.

Looking at the watch, the dial and hands and bezel all appear to have wear and patina that fit with the concept this is an single owner watch that has not been messed around with.

Looking at the basics, we have a DN90 bezel, with drop serifs. A stepped professional dial with T marks, and tritium hands. Crown and pushers are hard to judge but look original from what I see. This is a very original watch.

Here we can see the back, clearly full of wrist cheese.

So this is an example of a watch in barn find, or straight from owner condition. This is clearly reflected in the current bid, that shows people interested in this over and above that shown in a dealer presented 145.022-74, or 71.

After a service this watch should present very nicely, even though we cannot really see clearly the character of the dial, there seem to be many bidders who think like I do that as this is an original watch the chances are this dial, and indeed the whole watch, will be very attractive when sympathetically serviced and recommissioned.

It will be interesting to see where this ends up.

A 105.002 in Christie’s online

Christies have several online sales throughout the year, and they are worth keeping an eye on, as they are very poorly viewed. I myself bought two watches last year for the floor price, and I was the only bidder.

So for the moment, if you are a buyer, these online sales are worth looking at. These 105.002’s are so rare, and hard to price, when one comes up its always interesting to study. This is lot 8 and can bee seen here

This is the baton hand version, and is very similar to the 105.003.

This is a great photo, and we can learn a lot. The dial is what we must first look to. In this case, it is a No T marks, no pro stepped dial, and this is what we expect to see. As an aside, the O in Omega is round, and again this is to be expected – it is just good practice to be checking this in these early watches.

SWISS MADE markings, correct for this reference

Here we can see the dial has lost a lot of lume from the plots. The white undercoat of the plots is showing – some will want to relume this dial, but it is almost impossible at the moment to sell a relumed watch. (That will change I am sure).

We must also look carefully at the printing, and we can see some minor blemishes in the minute track around the edge of the dial, but these could well be marks on the crystal.

In general this looks a nice original piece, with correct parts. It also has the 7912/6 bracelet and endlinks, and this is a significant value. It really does bear out the description of being a one owner watch, and this always adds to the attraction.

So is it worth buying? At $10,000 plus the commission it will come home at $12,500. It could be – if you can live with the dial lume plots, or lack of them. (I could). Now having said that, this watch is not in fine condition, and it is this quality of watch that is failing to sell for prices set within the last 12 months. So you have to go in with eyes wide open. Having said that, if you are looking for a 105002 the choices are always limited.

Fine examples of this reference are still selling privately for over $25,000 and exceptional ones for more. So $12500 seems cheap – certainly last year it would have sold easily. The question is are there still buyers for the lower quality like there were last year?

If you go to Chrono 24 (here) you will see this is the cheapest 105002 on the market today.

A New Metal 2915 Bezel

Just seen on ebay, selling in UK, is this replacement 2915 bezel.

2915 replacement bezel on ebay

It is never going to fool anyone as it is, as the engraving is fresh. The seller notes it is hand engraved like the original and it is possible that this may age quite well.

There are people who know these bezels far more than me, and will immedately pick up on font variations. The problem I have is that there is such variation, and so I cannot say definitively that I have a genuine example to compare. Almost all examples of 2915 with metal bezels I have seen have been through dealers or auction hands, and therefore lost that wonderful chain of private ownership.

Repro bezel detail from ebay

The above is taken from the Phillips sale, see original listing here.

So we can see this new repro bezel should not be fooling anyone.

Original ebay listing here

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