Phillips have one of the best selections of watches I have seen ever in Hong Kong, and much more interesting than the recent Geneva auctions. The have taken over a large part of the Marriot hotel, and Phillips branded Tesla’s litter the Valet Parking lot. (which I think is fun)
I spent a lot of time studying the speedmasters and I am going to comment here one by one to start with – it takes me a long time to truly study and assess a watch before auction – there can be so many pitfalls when buying from an auction and now values are rising, I really need to handle a watch before buying rather than rely on the catalog photos.
Here is the first speedmaster, a 105.003. You can see the original listing here.
This Photo, from Phillips is quite good for showing us the issues – but they might not be obvious until I point them out. First thing I look at is the dial body colour. By this I mean the quality of the black paint on the dial, and I look for any spots, blisters or blotches. In this case it is very good, so we are off to a promising start.
The printing, the white track and numbers, is all complete and undamaged.
Now the luminous material, this is where the watch falls down. The 11 o’clock plot is “squidged” – and I cannot think why. Its like someone took a piece of pegwood and lent on it.
Several plots have black dirt, the six being the worst. The three is missing some lume. While the lume has problems, it remains attractive at a certain level.
The dial overall is presentable and the problems are acceptable at the correct price, its just important not to buy this without knowing they are there. There are less attractive dials in this sale, but there are also more attractive ones.
The hands look commensurate to the dial, and are correct and do not jar the eye. This is important, and again not every watch has this.
The case is (wear) worn, and slightly polished, the lines have lost some definition. The top of the lugs and the side of the case is shiny – often this is a combination of natural wear combined with a watchmaker trying to tidy up a watch. It is not an unusual situation for a watch of this age, and I would say the case is fair, and in ownership you wont shed any tears if you wear it every day.
The case back has a defined hippo, and the bevel is in the correct place, indication no major polishing.
The bezel is the correct DO90 but for me it is not top quality, as it is slightly grey (I have started to use the expression “dry looking” ). As you can see there are several flecks and minor damages, but it really is not an especially nice bezel.
The crown is 24. tooth, the pushers have dirty necks and domed tops. I think they are possibly original or at least correct, and not service items.
The bracelet is the 7912 with 532 endlinks. The bracelet is good, and valuable.
Overall this is a complete, correct but slightly tired example, in above average condition for an auction but with some issues to be aware of before bidding. For me I am put off by the 11 plot, and the grey bezel.
Added to the list of pluses on this can be the extract, and the original papers, which interestingly call this a 145.003 although the extract states 105003.
The estimate is HKD$94,000 to 140,000. In USD including the 25% premium this translates to USD 15,000 to USD 22,300.
At the low estimate I think this is fair – I am super critical in my assessments and just because I find a list of issues does not mean the watch is not worth buying. It means that because I look closely I am not going to get a nasty surprise if the first time I put a loupe on it is when I collect it after purchase. We are in interesting times in the Speedmaster market. This could go higher.
It will be most interesting to see where this watch ends up, because it is attractive but not fine. As such it is in that middle ground that requires a good eye and a talent to balance value and condition so that you may have pleasure of future ownership.
If you are considering bidding on a Speedmaster in this sale, let me know the lot number – I will publish a report on it, if I have the time.