Ebay 105.003 Review

The recent high prices paid for very good 105.003’s has pulled a lot out onto the market. Here I will look at one that while interesting, needs to be approached with caution and with open eyes. The seller is a regular on Ebay and has excellent feedback and so from that view it is safe to send money and work with him. (Buy the seller).

105.003 Offered on Ebay April 2015
105.003 Offered on Ebay April 2015. Photo from listing.

The link to the Auction is here

The watch has a bulky description and it is described as, and I quote:

100% all original parts  and model 105-003 from 1962/1963

I understand the term Original to describe a watch as carrying the parts it left the factory with. I find this description hard to match with the watch I see presented, which carries several parts that I doubt it left the factory with. Not a problem in itself, but if that is not true, then what else do I need to question in the description? Now I have my spectacles on and I am on red alert.

Here we have a 105.003 case back with a bezel that while it has considerable fading, is not the design I have seen in an original watch of this age, as it lacks the ring between the markers and the numbers. So I think the bezel is newer than the watch, and possibly altered by human intervention.

Here is an original 1960’s bezel, in my collection:

2998 with original vintage pulsations bezel
2998 with original vintage pulsations bezel. Note the ring between the numbers and the marks

Additionally I want to understand how this bezel changed to grey. It is a new design, and yet it has severely degraded. How? I have seen heated bezels turn this colour,  Again, if this is original, all the parts should have experienced the same environmental factors, together. This bezel has had severe and chronic trauma to reach this colour – the rest of the watch shows “normal” degradation. I am uncomfortable with the idea this bezel is original, and naturally degraded.

This leads us to the next problem. The hands are alphas and I do not believe any 105.003’s left the factory fitted with them. In fact the seller offers to supply a set of correct design hands. I would accept the watch with the alphas as they are worth a lot, being original specification 2998 hands. So the hands are not original.

Now I have established in my mind that this is not an original watch, but that does not dismiss it from consideration. Not at all. If I dismissed every watch that was like this, it would be hard to buy one.  What I do learn is that the seller has different standards of description than me, and therefore I must establish the facts for myself rather than take anything he says as true. A further example is that the movement is described as “nice red gold plated movement without big scratches“. I dont know of any Speedmaster movement that is red gold plated – Copper coloured is what I see them described as.  Again a reminder to understand the watch on my terms, not the sellers.

As to the condition. The dial is fair, and an attractive colour. It has some blotches at 11 O’clock, and the plots are degraded and a little undefined. It is the dial colour that saves this watch and makes it so attractive.

The case shows expected wear, but also some corrosion around the case back sealing edges. I doubt is would pass a waterproof test.

Case back showing moderate corrosion on sealing edge.
Case back showing moderate corrosion on sealing edge. Photo from listing

The movement is in acceptable range for an early 105.003-63. It requires a service, as declared by the seller, and so $600 needs to be set aside for this.

I think the spear Chrono hand might be a replacement as the lume in the spear looks added. I dont know for sure, but it looks off – this is exactly the sort of little thing I want to know BEFORE I buy. If I know before, and buy the watch with the knowledge of all the little things, I can be happy. To discover these things afterwards, and I am miserable.

Closeup of lume in spear Chrono
Closeup of lume in spear Chrono. The material looks sloppy and “gravely”. Photo cropped from listing

A comparison:

Original
Original. Clean, well defined shape, even colour.

 

So is this a buyable watch?

Against:

  • Non original alpha hands
  • Possible non original Chrono
  • Probable non original bezel
  • Corroded case

Positive:

  • Attractive dial
  • Correct movement
  • Correct case

On balance I say yes, but with your eyes open. The watch needs a service, some hands, and a bezel to make into an original looking 105.003. The dial will appeal to some and not to others.

For a comparison, here is a nice example of a 105.003 that is not perfect, but attractive with a faded dial:

105.003
105.003. Correct DO90 bezel, correct batton hands, slightly brown dial, clean aged plots.