I have always admired Christies – they are a little more aggressive, and polished than all the other Houses. They also seize opportunities, as in the Speedmaster 50 sale. They also take a few liberties, as in that New York sale contained only 17 vintage Speedmasters, the others being freely available, and some not truly Speedmaster watches. In this sale Chrisities have gathered no less than 10 Speedmasters – an unprecedented number for any Auction house to put in a single non specialist sale. Lots 11 to 18 are in fact consigned by the same owner as many of the Speedmasters in the Speedmaster 50 Sale.
All estimates are in USD but the sale is in CHF.
The Christies site has excellent zoom facilities, but unfortunately the photos do not convey, to me, the exact nature of the watch. I had to screenshot them from the site so quality is not that great. The sale is here.
Lot 11 2915-2 Estimate $25,000 – $41,000
At first glance this is cheap, as Christies sold another 2915-2 for over $100,000 in December 2015 and so this watch is either undervalued or incorrect.
This watch carries what appears to be a correct dial – it has the short indices on subdial. However the plots seem unusually well defined, a whitish unusual colour, and a bit shiny. I dont like them.
This has some interesting history. A 2915-2 with the same movement number (15997677) was sold in Antiquorum NY on June 10th 2010. At that time it looked like this:
Even from these photos you can see that the bezels are not the same. Check the font shapes, and most obviously the accent on the E, missing on the Christies watch and present on the AQ watch.
When offered in 2010 it had a service document from Omega dated December 2009. It sold for $22,800. You can see it here.
So at some time this watch has had the bracelet added, some work done to the pushers, and a different bezel added. I dont know what is going on with this watch, but there is a lot, and illustrates why we all want original, one ower watches. Hardly possible with this reference so we have to buy with open eyes. It will be very interesting to see where this one ends.
Sold for CHF 32,500. ($33,079) Surely this is low for a 2915-2. It must have had something visually, or obviously wrong to put off even the most naive buyers. In addition to the problems I highlight above, I suspect the watch does not look nice in hand.
Lot 12 2998-62 Estimate $6,159 to $10,265
Slightly tropical dial. The H/M hands are incorrect size and shape, probably service hands for a seamaster. The Chrono hand has a short tail. The dial has some imperfections that wont stop it being sold.
Again, the photo techniques disguise the true character of the watch. These late 2998’s are often fitted with Seamaster movements of very similar number series (1958xxxx) , and I dont know enough to confirm it – and so far the museum wont either. As a result I always tend to value these later 2998’s (-6, -61, -62) lower than earlier ones (-3, -4, -5). But that is just personal preference.
Sold for CHF20,000 ($20,357). I think this is bang on what I thought it was worth. Again without holding it, I suspect it was not the most attractive example to be sold – but fair. Recent sales of attractive 2998’s are higher than this, and it would be an unusual day that Christies gave someone a bargain. But it does happen.
Lot 13 2998-6 Estimate $6,159 to $10,265
Another low estimate. No one has bought a 2998 in the last 12 months for less than $15,000 and I cannot believe this wont sell for around that amount. An attractive looking watch, albeit a little tired in the bezel. The hands are triangle lume, but a bit greenish – I have seen a lot of this and it is I believe natural. Pushers look original. Dial is correct. I have checked the serial against my own collection and I am satisfied it is in range. Its not a great watch, but it seems a nice attractive wearable watch without issues.
Sold for CHF 20,000 ($20,357) So this watch head was valued hogher than the previous lot, as this lot lacked the 7912/6 bracelet and endlinks, which can fetch several thousnds alone. In addition one can argue that the bezel is worth at least 1500 less than the previous. So this lot ended costing much more for the watch head than the previous lot. I wonder why? Certainly I would choose it just by looking at the photos.
Lot 14 105.003-65 Estimate $5132 to $8212
looks fairly original, and as long as the T marks are the short space ones then the dial is also good. The bezel is a little damaged and detracts from the overall attraction. The pushers look original as does the crown. Again, no Auction House has sold a 105.003 in last 12 months for less than $9,000 and most have sold for $15,000. This comes with a 7912 bracelet and No 6 end-links. Just a 7912 bracelet has fetched several thousands recently.
Lot 14 105.003-65 Christies
Sold for CHF 12500 ($12,723). Although this sold well over estimate, this seems a good deal when compared to recent sales where 105.003’s have sold for $15,000 plus. I think this reference may well be correcting. This lot appears to be attractive, although the bezel is damaged, and the dial plots might not be the best. Christies does like Photoshop. The thing is, this watch might be a less expensive option to owning this reference, but frankly each time I inspect it, I like it a little less, even though there is not much wrong. The bezel really puts me off.
Lot 15 145.012-67 Estimate $4,106 to $6159
An attractive looking watch, unlikely to go for less than the high estimate. Stepped dial that has lost its lume, leaving white paint of the plots exposed. The bezel is correct, and grey. Pushers look a little dirty and I suspect it needs a service. 1039 bracelet, Its a decent watch, again not fine. (Again terrible photos stop me really getting the feel of this watch).
Sold for CHF 8750 ($8906). I liked this watch, and the first Speedmaster in the sale to come under $10,000 it would be tempting to see it as a good deal. However how many 145.012’s do we see selling for $9,000 on the collectors market, or Ebay? I think the photo favours this type of watch, and in the hand it may not be as nice as I think. This is a typical example where an Auction house can get a price that is quite beyond the cool headed market outside of it.
Lot 16 145.022-69 Estimate $3,593 to $5,646
Ridiculous estimate. The DO90 bezel would sell for over $2,000 on its own. Another attractive watch, with some small issues. The dial plots look a little dirty, but the dial is correct and stepped. I cannot see any damage. Bezel does have a ding at the 70. I would be surprised if this fails to reach $6000. The bracelet, 1171/1 is possibly a later addition as I would expect to see the 1171.
Sold for CHF5250 ($5344). Well it had a fabulous DO90 bezel, but it is lower than I expected. This is another example where I can feel a softening of prices slightly, even though this sold well above the estimate. Its just the estimate was too low. If we take out the bezel that could sell for $2500 or more, this values the rest of the watch at under $4000 – not high for a speedmaster from an auction house.
Lot 17 BA145.022-69 Estimate $10,265 to $15,397
No bracelet. A low number 28m, so I expect it to be a low number in the series, (the LTD number on the back). I would want to check the number with the museum as I have not seen such a low number. Looks a little polished. The bezel is the correct DO90 and it is rare. One pusher looks damaged. This is one watch I think the estimate is correct.
Sold for CHF 11,250 ($11,451) Sold on the bottom end of the estimate, I suspect this was hard to get off. Lots of issues (movement number) lack of bracelet or history, this was a dodgy watch to me. Especially compared to the later one in this sale.
Lot 18 145.022-69 Estimate $4,206 to $8,212
This one is in fairly good overall condition and is attractive. the bracelet is not one that we normally see on this – but it could be a foreign standard fitment. It has the correct dial, with slightly tired plots. The bezel is very good, the correct dropped serif DN90. I think the estimate is a little optimistic, compared to what sells elsewhere, but I would think the environment will ensure it sells.
Sold for CHF 5,000 ($5,089). Compared to the other 145.022 lot 18 this was not such a good deal, and fell well within Christies estimate. Perhaps this looked good in hand. The price was not excessive, and another example of softer prices. You can with care find this reference elsewhere, often much cheaper, but for how much longer?
Lot 157 2915-3 Estimate $41,059 to $61,588
Placed at the end of the sale, when tensions and excitement will be high. Why is this, the least desirable version of the 2915 (the -3), priced so much higher than the lot 4, a 2915-2 ?
It has the correct dial, (short indices on the subdial) the correct hands, (with the long hour hand) and has the black BASE1000 bezel – this is worth around $10,000 on its own. (As an aside, I think this bezel is worth more than the steel versions, because the steel ones cannot be verified).
When you see this watch, compared to the others in the sale, it does look more honest. The bracelet matches the period, the bezel is correct and so far not replicated, the hands are rare as hens teeth and the overall look is good. I would not be surprised if this sells and sells well. It is from a different owner as the previous lots, and I think it shows.
Sold for CHF81,250 ($82,699). This was the watch that I would have liked to buy. Compare this 2915 to lot 11 – a supposed 2915-2 which is generally acknowledged to be a much more valuable reference. This must have grabbed the attention of collectors who know what they are doing. I really liked it. Not a bargain, but I don’t think it will give any regrets.
Lot 158 BA145.022-69 Estimate $15,397 to $25,662
Another of the commemorative gold series, this time from the more familiar number series (2911xxxx) and with the bracelet and the DO90 burgundy bezel. This watch is so much more desirable than the lot 17 in this sale. The estimate is pretty much in line with what I have seen others sell for.
Sold for CHF 27,500 ($27,990). This sold for a little more than previous examples – I do not know if it had the crater box but that makes a difference. These gold Speedmasters are very attractive and desirable if in good condition. I am not surprised this sold well.
Lot 159 3450809 Estimate $5,646 to $10,265
The rare moon-phase from 1985 with the Cal 866 movement.
Out of my area of expertise but included for completeness.
Sold for CHF 9375 ($9542)