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Fellows Auction 105.012

I am always on the lookout for a nice one owner Speedmaster at a Cinderella auction. I found this 105.012-65 in Fellows Auction in Birmingham. The sale is on February 27th 2018

I would love to reproduce the photos here, but I do not have permission to do that, and as you will see, they might not want to give it.

Estimated at 4000 to 6000 sterling plus fees. At today’s rates, that works out at USD$5585 to $8375. So not crazy price-wise. (Until you add 30% buyers premium). Lets look at it, I have to describe it without photos so do get it up on another screen.

  • 105.012-65 marked inside case back.
  • Movement 2262xxxx which is too low for a -65. Actually I have not seen a Speedmaster with 2262xxxx number so I would want an extract before paying. 
  • EDIT: Since writing the number in the listing has changed to 22827825 and now falls into line with expectations. Or I misread the site, oops.
  • Poor to fair correct DO90 bezel
  • Correct dial, in fair to good condition, dirty (Algae colour) plots, not so attractive. Close spaded T marks.
  • Service pushers, not sure about crown – but it looks ok from what I can see.
  • Case band appears in better condition than the rest of the watch, including the case back and bezel. This needs investigating to eliminate that this may be a service case band.
  • Service bracelet later than 1970’s.
  • Personal engraving on rear.
  • Replaced hands that look very white.

The auction fees are nearly 30% if you bid online. (which is why I always book a telephone bid).

The case band is really worrying, and if buying the watch needs to be inspected. In conversation with the auctioneers, they disclosed the watch is from a private source, who frequently had it serviced. While that is  good thing if you want your watch to work, it makes it less interesting for us!

It will be telling to see what this sells for, as it has had plenty of exposure, including here:

A Look at a 145.022-69 For Sale

This watch is for sale on OF (see here) and its been there for a while and I wondered why. I will go through it with you now as I write. I am curious because at first glance $5200 for this reference is not expensive. Let’s examine it. I am going to use photos from the listing but I am not going to copy the whole lot over, I suggest you click on the link and have the page open while you read.

Now the best head on photo from the listing is this: 

Now forgive me saying so, and bearing in mind not everyone is a natural photographer, but this is a terrible sales photo. So I took that photo and did this:

That’s better. Now we can get a better idea of what is here. I always find it easier to look at a watch the right way up, and also adjusting the white balance a little. One of the things I always look for in a 2911xxxx serial is the dial colour. Even if it has not gone as far as tropical, it often has a pleasant shade not seen in other series.

As far as I can see its a very presentable 145.022-69. True a little worn, but really how many have we seen for sale?

The seller has described the dial as having all the lume removed. The white balance of the photos disguises this, but it is apparent. The dial otherwise seems in fair to good condition with the printing intact. I would see this watch as a perfect candidate for a re-lume.  In the next photo the plots can clearly be seen as missing all lume, but the white paint is full. (Ideal for re lume).

Lets look at the dial, which is good on first glance but there may be something, its a bit crumbly at the edges. Also there is a little blotching around the 6 marker:

So the dial is let down by the lack of lume, the blotching at 6, and possibly 4, and the crumbly edge. Otherwise the dial looks good, the concentric rings are clear. The hands look correct and in good condition. Its not a fine dial but it is not bad. As the movement is 2911xxxx then we always look for hints of brown – but I do not think there is any here.

We can see damage on the crystal and the seller has declared it as non original. I would replace it. The claim is serviced and it may well be, which makes it even better value.

The bezel is a correct DO90. This always makes valuing these watches difficult because such a high proportion of the value rides on the bezel. If this bezel were released on its own then I expect on Ebay this would sell for perhaps $1000 – 1500. It could go for more. It is damaged but I have seen people fight over worse.

The bezel really is not so bad. I would rather have this than a service replacement.

Now also included in the sale is an original, trapeze logo 1171 bracelet. These are now selling for over $400 and could again get more.

So in summary this watch has problems of appearance, but it has been serviced and comes complete with correct parts and a correct bracelet.

The seller asks $5200. I cannot see it as expensive. Especially as I have really not seen any of this reference for sale. I feel I do not need to add that I have no connection to the seller, or the watch.

If I had to guess, I would say the sale has stalled due to poor photos that don’t show the true colour, nor the attraction that I am sure this watch has. Also perhaps the price was too high to start with and the watch over exposed at a poor time for selling.

It also may be an illustration that while the market might pay double this for a top example, one like this that can be criticised on several high value points is harder to value.

Since writing my friend Ewan started an interedting thread over on OF and out of this thread comes the concepts that this is a dull time for sales, (Pre March) and that forum sales are higher than this time last year, based on average sale. All interesting stuff, go and have a look.

State of the Market Spring 2018

Like many a well enjoyed collectable, Speedmasters have attracted those with a profit motive. Now a collector has to compete with an investor or dealer, and has few options to acquire from  private sources anymore. So we are left to buy from dealers, collectors or auctions.

The Speedmaster was, for a long while, an enthusiasts watch, or with the later vintages, a chance to buy an inexpensive version of a current model – as the 2006 version was only slightly different to the 1978 version. The c1994 version with the tritium dial was even closer to the 1978. When I first bought a Speedmaster they were around $1000 to $1500 and hardly anyone knew the difference between the models – often dealers would only differentiate between the movements, and the price range was considerably less. A symptom of this was that very few people understood a 105003 and for a long while these traded at $2500. Hardly anyone had seen a 2915 let alone traded one.

Sources of all my early watches were ebay, pawn shops, the odd watch show and charity shops. The watches were almost all from private people and wide ranging in quality price and value. Frankly eBay was by far and away the most bountiful source. The choice was incomparable.

105.012 from the Salvation Army. This was a one owner watch that while not perfect, had the aura of honesty. As a result I paid about 10 – 20 % over what the market thought was the price. This photo is post service, and as you can see I have preserved the appearance completely. This is the kind of watch a “fund” will ignore, a dealer will “Improve” and a collector will simple enjoy and value unchanged.

On eBay things started to wake up, and when Speedmasters started going for more than $1500 we saw eBay carrying four to ten private Speedmasters every week. These watches were owners watches, or their beneficiaries, and often I was buying a watch that was unopened and sometimes I never knew what I was going to get. Here is a 105.012-63, sold as a “1970’s Speedmaster”. I paid $1650 for it, and I did not know what I had – to this day it is one of my favorite watches.

105.012-63. One of my earliest purchases, for $1650 from Ebay, There were three photographs, and described as a “1970’s Speedmaster”. At the time I might have slightly overpaid for an 861, but this was an all time bargain. This is not something I think will be repeated anymore.

There were many watches, and many buyers. Most were private buyers too, but the rising market was attracting flippers, or perhaps we can call them gentleman traders. Any fool seemed to be able to make a couple of hundred buying a poorly photo’d watch from a dark corner of the countryside, cleaning it and re presenting it.

This rise in values has coincided with an economy where the money in the bank devalues as you look at it, and men (it is nearly always men) began to buy and sell watches outside of their primary occupation, and do well. They (I?) would rather see money in watches than stagnating in the bank . Many people have now decided to become watch dealers – though I wonder how well they do, and how much of their personal moral code they have had to leave behind.

What I am pointing out is that the source of Speedmasters has changed from private individuals, to dealers and collectors selling on watches that have often been tidied up, restored or prepared in some way and so lack the originality of an owned watch. As a result, true one owner watches are attracting a premium, a premium that is hard to justify in the cold light of a commercial analysis.  These watches have borrowed the term Barn Find from the vintage car market, perhaps as so many of us collectors have connections to vintage cars too.

145.012 Owned by a Vietnam Verteran, sold to me by his surviving brother. A true barn find, in spite of a changed bezel, this watch is in original one owner condition. This watch currently does not run, but I feel no urgency to touch it. See the story of it here

Recently another Barn Find sold strongly on Ebay….except it was not really a Barn Find. (Which is my point, even in this condition they are coming through traders):

105.012 Sold on Ebay for just under $5,000 with 1039 bracelet. While on first glance this could be a barn find, (the pushers look original) this watch is offered by someone who knows how to dismantle a watch – not many real owners can do that. Still I think it was a good buy even with the dial issues, which are not as bad as some. Photo from listing.

Auction houses too, have increased activity and turnover. We now have major auction houses scheduling two or three important auctions a year, as well as several minor houses with regular auctions. Unfortunately, like the dealers who prop up the auctions, they don’t really have the depth of knowledge that a motivated collector in this field has. They might develop this knowledge to a certain extent, as they have in the art and jewelry market, but as yet the watch market is nascent by comparison. The jewelry auction business has seen great shake ups as the wider world discovered about Ruby origins and heat treatments as well as Emerald oiling and resin to name just two cataclysms that rocked the market. A lot of people bought stones that cannot be sold for 20% of what those charmers in the Auctions sold them for. I believe we are in a similar (pre – cataclysm) time with watches and so we see high profile sales of re lumes, lasered cases, and even down right fakes. Remember, auction staff work only for the benefit of the Auction house, not you, the buyer, and the only reason the seller benefits is as the Auction houses best interests are aligned with those sellers….and just watch how quickly a seller is abandoned to the sea of contract law if the buyer fails to complete.

A visit we made to Christies New York December 2015. On the right is a 2915-1 with a re cut case. This was offered as original by Christies, but acknowledged by staff at the sale as refinished. It was auctioned without any special mention for $125,000 and subsequently the sale was removed from any records by Christies, although I was assured the sale completed to a happy buyer.

This I have no doubt will change, but buying at any auction should be done without placing 100% confidence in what the experts at the houses say. Until the Auction Houses get caught red handed selling something expensive and miss described, they wont learn. Keep watching Orchi Palar on Instagram! He is calling out auctions and dealers, though I don’t know the Rolex market well enough to know if he is right. I do however enjoy the idea that someone is watching.

We are seeing the emergence of watch funds, and this is extremely dangerous for the market. Consortia are congealing, gathering investors into hegemonous groups that go into the market and buy watches for investment, with the idea of selling back into the market for a profit in 3 to 6 years. While this might sound like a good idea we have to go back to basics and identify the flaw.

Watch funds will always miss the truly special, like this, because they lack the confidence to stick their necks out:

Three unusual dials. These cannot be quantified or priced, as they are so rare the price depends only what two people are willing to pay for it on the day of an auction. As a result, Watch Funds could catch a serious cold buying these.

Who buys watches? Men, for the most part, who want to “own” them, for the pleasure of owning them. To give pleasure, the watch must have attraction, and give pleasure to this owner each time he sees it. The fact that it has two lines of red text, or a BASE1000 bezel, is a given, not the reason he (I?) like it.

Auction houses need the dealers. They set the floor in any market, scooping up anything that the private buyers do not want and preventing the auctions from holding  piles of unsold watches. They prevent that awful situation where there are no bids, and an item is returned unsold. An unsold item is bad for everyone, even if the houses usually manage to stiff the poor seller with unsold fees. The private buyer in the auction is where the action is, but the dealers are paying all the bills. That’s why when you go to an auction the auctioneer is always so cozy with the dealers, making private jokes from the podium. The auctioneers need the dealers to hold their trousers up.

So the market is set when two private buyers fight it out for a desirable piece. True, they may be only fighting themselves for a little while, but its still a price arrived at in the open. These private buyers fight for the watch because they like it. Perhaps it was flown to the space station, or owned by an astronaut. It could be that the dial is that attractive shade of brown that tickles the pleasure buds.

To be clear, two people do not fight to the financial death over a DO90 bezel, a brown dial, or even an Arab crest, just because of the bezel, the dial or the mark. They fight because they desperately want it because it touches them in a way a piece of modern art might. It does not have to make financial sense.

A dealer, or a fund, will look for items to fill the stock. “I need a couple of straight lugs” a dealer might say, or the fund might allocate a budget for 10 brown dials. Or twenty 1970’s speedmasters.

Do you see the difference? The privates are buying because of what it looks like, and the dealers and funds are buying based on how they can describe it on paper. These funds are audited.  When was the last time you met a watch collector who is an auditor? (not an accountant, and Auditor.)

Now we come to the second problem with funds. We all know when two crazy privates fight for a watch – the price goes up to the point where all but two people in the auction think it is crazy, and even when the hammer comes down, the winner often thinks he is still crazy. With the funds, they are not spending their own money. They think that the watch will appreciate 10% a year and so if they over pay 20% on a five-year investment they still come out 30% up. And anyway, its not their money. So funds actually push the price of “ordinary” watches higher, while not being brave enough to buy the really special pieces. Because they don’t have the balls to fly that high, always needing a consensus from committee, so that no one can be blamed in five years when they sell. So while the funds might push some, the really super special watches, like blue dials, or black racings, might just escape them.

So now imagine two funds in the auction. Neither are buying the watch because they like it, its because they have decided they see growth as a result of certain conditions being met, e.g. it is brown, has a BASE1000 bezel, it is a straight lug. So now instead of the private setting the top of the market, it is a fund, a group of people with no individual taste pushing a watch that is replaceable, but they need it because in order to pass the audit is has to come from auction, and we have now a situation  were the privates have dropped out because the do not like the watch, but because the watch fills a set of criteria, the funds think it is the perfect investment piece and while they pay more than another fund, they pay way more than a private would.

At the end of the day, the value must be set by the ultimate consumer, the collector. It is after all the collector who will buy the watch at the end of the fund’s investment period, unless the model is so successful that another fund comes along and buys it.

For the private buyer, like me, I am focusing on one owner watches, preferably with papers, and always with an extract. For that, I will pay a premium, one that is impossible to put in the chart.

There is an acute shortage of wonderful examples. Perhaps those of us who have some feel no pressure to sell. These are genuine rarities, and until there is a flamethrower at their backsides collectors wont sell.

 

A little Ebay Project you can buy…maybe!

My browsing showed this little 145.012 on Ebay.  All images are from the listing and I have no connection.  At the time of writing there is three days to go. See the listing here

I used to enjoy buying speedmasters in this state,  but the prices have risen strongly and the risks are quite high now.

This watch is presented without a bezel and missing a pusher cap.  The dial plots seem very white from the photos and the handset seems vintage and correct. The crown is not. The bracelet is scrap.

When considering a watch like this, the first thing is to wonder how damaged the movement is from the missing pusher. Sometimes this can allow moisture ingress that over time causes damage.

Well the photos are not the best, but we can see there is no serious corrosion. We can also see that although the seller describes the movement as like new, each screw shows marks. A good watchmaker will service a 321 movement without leaving those marks. I also check the column wheel just to make sure it has all its columns, and this one does. The clutch bridge is the correct shape, and thats about all I can get from the photo.

The movement number fits the range. However it is 2500xxxx and I see this in 105.012’s as well as Seamasters. I am not saying it has problem, just that here we have an incomplete watch, with no history. How happy would you be if you paid a lot and found that Omega would not issue an extract? Just remember it is a possibility.

The major negative on this watch, apart from having to find a DO90 bezel, is that the dial is not that attractive due to the washed off plots.

How much is it worth? Well three days to go and its around $2500. Thats cheap, but I think double this is too expensive – so somewhere between.

A look at a Flawed 2998

Its been a while. For my first post of 2018 let us look at this 2998.

For me, collecting speedmasters is not just about finding flawless examples, mint NOS or unworn watches. While I can see the attraction, and even the value, I find these very high quality watches hard to enjoy on a daily basis, and they sit in the safe.

A far more challenging watch, is one that is not worth top dollar, but has an attraction and draws the attention in a pleasurable way, and is not worth so much money it is too scary to wear. It is about finding a balance, between quality and attraction. And this is, or should be, different for all of us.

Here is one. And my thinking behind it.

Last autumn/winter there was a flurry of very high priced listings for 2998’s and I was not sure if this was a genuine phenomenon. There were some very nice watches (with brown dials) sold for over $75,000 and some fair ones sold for around $25,000.

As an exercise I put this watch up on Ebay in December. I acquired it some while ago with several issues, as well as some really attractive qualities, not least that lollipop. I would have been happy to sell it for $18,000. (I have been offered a single lolipop hand, missing lume, for $5000 – I did not buy it, but I think someone did, two years ago).

A sale was agreed through Ebay at $15,000. I felt at the time that was a little cheap, and thankfully the buyer (from Los Angeles, city of flaky angels in my experience) pulled out. There were several bidders and so I can say that this watch was valued by the market at $15,000

My motive putting it up was to really feel the market. I am not much of a seller, usually when I do it is through Omega Forums, where decent people live, who speak my language. I was very happy the deal did not complete at that level. As my word is my bond, I would have completed if the buyer had proceeded – but I firmly believe that this watch is worth more than $15,000 in parts.

This has all correct parts,  but there are some caveats:

This watch has Omega service alpha hour and minute hands, as indicated by the flat cross sections and square ended lume slots.

They have no transverse curvature, and square ended lume slots. We can clearly see the the sharp slots. For me there is a $2500 difference between flat service hands and original triangular lume hands. There are also correct vintage slot versions, with curved lume ends and curved cross sections that are also valuable, but I value the triangle lume more.

Now we have to look closely at the dial. It has a few issues. Here it is in natural light. I find the base colour of the dial attractive. After establishing that it is a correct dial for the reference, I split my assessment of a dial into four parts:

  • Base Colour
  • Quality of the base (that is blemishes, or freedom from them)
  • Plot condition
  • Printing condition

Its is quite nice, as an old patinated dial, but it is in fair to poor condition. It has (for me) a very attractive colour. However the dial is damaged, has scratches and blemishes and this diminishes the value. A great many collectors would not give this watch a second look.

The lume is not in good condition. Here we see missing luminous paint. I would have expected some white paint where the lume has gone,  but that has fallen off too. (or was removed).

Here we see colour looks smeared on. This immediately alerts us to the idea it might be a relume, and then we need to ask the question does it matter? (At this quality level).

I am leaning toward this being an older, less skilled re – lume.

If I was satisfied this is an older re-lume then I would consider re luming it myself – we would do a far better job.

The more I look the more I am inclined to call it a re lume, and that brings us to the last point, does it affect the value?

In this case I would argue no. The value of this watch as set by the market is $15,000 (I may not agree, but we have an auction value). How much would it be with skilled re laid plots? I would suggest more.

The dial as a whole does have a lot of scratches and damage. As I said, there will be many who dismiss this watch, but I would argue it has more character, and user appeal, than a fine example at double or triple the price. The damage is light, not seriously degraded. To be clear, I do not think this dial is remotely fine, my point is that as a poor dial, it remains attractive as it is without serious damage from moisture or oil, and is unlikely to degrade further from any previous chemical damage.

It also has a scratch that I am told that can be filled. I suspect that would be risky and I do not think I would try it.

Since it failed, I decided not to pursue the sale, and I have been wearing it and enjoying it since. Dare I say, enjoying it more than a more valuable one.

The lollipop hand is very rare. Many of them I have seen have this sloppy-ish lume – I do not know what this indicates, as many of them I see have this over-spill onto the circle of the hand:

I am inclined to think it is re lumed, and that many lollipopsa are re lumed, perhaps the large area makes it hard for the original lume to hang in there all this time.

The bezel is greyish, and evenly slightly degraded. I think it is quite fair and is commensurate to the rest of the watch’s condition. (A factor that contributes to the attraction – the fact that the parts appear to have aged together).

What about the case?

The back is very good, the Hippocampus is well defined. This is not always the state we see double beveled backs in, as the line between the two steps is the first to go when a watch is polished incompetently.

There are a few marks from failed openings. Here we change the lighting and highlight the case marks:

Lets check the case sides. They are quite thick, but like many straight lug speedmasters on the market we see they have been polished. This one has had the original style brushed finish re-laid.

That spot is a deep ding!

To sum up, it is a deeply flawed watch, but one that remains attractive, wearable and enjoyable.

You don’t have to agree, and that is the joy of this world, there is something for everyone.

A Drawer Find Speedmaster

I was contacted a while ago now, by a gentleman who restores Model T Fords, and other vintage cars, and asked if I would like to buy the watch he bought new for $200 in 1973.

I did, and here it is:

As we can see the watch is well used, though not damaged. The hessalite shows a healthy amount of scratches and I suspect it is some time since the back was off – I have not yet removed it myself.

Hands have clearly been removed more than once and the paint is removed near the centre – this only happens if the hands have been on and off like a rodeo rider.

But it is an interesting back….

So it is the late 145.022-69 with the transitional back, know as “Straight Writing”. (I call it SW). Interesting the mix of dates – the invoice dated 1973, the bracelet marked 71 and the caseback marked 69.

This watch appears to be used, but not polished. In the first photo we can see the endlink has rotated. This is surprisingly common in the watches I am offered, which have often been discarded for many years, perhaps after breaking. Here we can see it is marked 516. Note the crisp case edge.

And the other side with the loose fitting endlink:

Original looking pushers, not so sure about that crown!

Here it is in a nest of its own paperwork. Showing it cost $200.81 in 1973, with the original guarantee booklet, service documents and brochures.

This is definitely another watch going into the permanent collection. More on SW’s here

 

Watches Of Knightsbridge November 2017 Sale

WOK is having another sale, and has plenty of speedmasters, several of which are post 1978 so outside my scope. I shall look at the pre 1978 ones here.

I am going to suggest you Google them for the catalog as they were very twitchy about me referring to them at all.

This auction house is becoming more active but remember that this auction house is not (yet) on a par with the “big boys” BUT this is why I like them – they offer a larger number of watches, and greater choice and a variety of qualities. Their sales tend to feel closer to the owners of the watches, or at least I feel I am seeing more from the market and from “owned” watches rather than curated or collected watches. I fell there are more estate watches here – I could be wrong. As ever do your due diligence, and make your own decisions taking your own responsibility for them.

Also be aware that unless policy has changed, not every watch is opened, though in the case where the movement was not as expected they were quick to offer to sort everything out.

I am not allowed to use WOK photos as they have not given permission. Well they have expressly forbidden me to. I assume they have got permission for the Omega red chronograph  image on their loading page :).

Lot 203 Estimate 3800 4400

OMEGA SPEEDMASTER CIRCA 1971, REF. 145022-69 ST WITH “STRAIGHT WRITING” NASA MOON LANDING TRIBUTE CASE BACK

This is a rare watch, and looks good. The dial is correct and in very good condition. The hands show little damage and the bezel is also correct and good. The back is the more common version of the two, but still desirable. We can see it is original as it has the shorter slots. I like this watch, and I would expect this to sell strongly. In fact I would say this is the pick of the sale.

Lot 204 Estimate 4000-4500

OMEGA SPEEDMASTER PROFESSIONAL CIRCA 1970, REF. 145022-69 ST WITH “220 MISPRINT” BEZEL
An interesting valuation pricing this lot above the previous. The 220 Bezel miss-print has a mixed following and while I accept this is rare, as yet, I do not see a big value – this lot may prove me wrong. This mistake bezel is very rare, and only correct in a very narrow serial range, but so far to me it is a quirk, not a valued attribute. A bit of fun, yes, but not one to pay much for.
I find the overall condition not as pleasing as lot 203 but its still in good condition with correct parts. I find the overall lume colour a little dirty and not so pleasing. I will be very interested to see how the market treats this.

Lot 205 Estimate 3000-3500

OMEGA SPEEDMASTER CIRCA 1969, REF. 145022-69 ST

This is the first of two entry level watches – it has just enough of the right attributes to make it accessible and attractive. The bezel is a DN90 and the dial is slightly degraded, the plots are off colour and missmatched. The dial is correct, stepped.

The hands look very clean and green. I would like to see more closely but it is possible they are replacements. I do not find the colour of the hands pleasing, but that should not put you off. If they are replacements, then it would be no issue to improve them by adjusting the colour.

As it is, this is one of the cheaper watches in the auction, but it used to be possible to find a watch like this outside the the auction houses for less – it is not so easy now. So I think this is going to sell.

Lot 206 Estimate 5500-6500

OMEGA SPEEDMASTER
DATED 1968, REF. 145.012-67 SP WITH OMEGA EXTRACT OF THE ARCHIVES SHOWING DELIVERY TO THE USA

From what I can see from these photos this watch is correct, but not especially attractive. The dial lume is not showing and may be missing, only better photos or an inspection will tell. The photos make the plots very white, and we need to know more before bidding hard.

The hand lume does not match between the hour and minute, or indeed the chrono tip – they are all different, and different from the dial lume. This suggests that the hands are not all original, and so we should carefully inspect the rest of the watch – especially the dial which I think needs to be seen in better light to value properly – I am concerned it looks “dry” or with very slight abrasions. In the first photo, the subdials show white around the edges – this shows in only the first photograph, but it might be they are there, albeit faintly, in real life. If I could I would enlarge the photos here and we could all see what I am talking about. Please check and ask for more photos (Do you think they would send more photos to me if I asked nicely?!)

The bezel is very good, but it has a dent at 85 and a damage at 69. These two marks stop this being a top bezel, that is one that is worth $5000. But I think some buyers will miss this. So this is a tough watch to value – the middle qualities always are a challenge to place a figure on, even the “upper middle” qualities. We just need two people who dont see, or care that the bezel is not top, and it will go for more than comparables on the market.

I like to see the extract, this definitely adds value. This watch is not flattered by the photos, and I think there is a chance it is better than the photos and so might sell to someone who has seen it.

Lot 207 Estimate 2800-3400

OMEGA SPEEDMASTER CIRCA 1973, REF. 145022-71 ST

This is the cheapest Speedmaster in the sale. The bezel is grey and with blurred printing. However the hands are good and the dial is correct and stepped. The auction only shows one photo so it is hard to fully review.

I would say if you want a lower end Speedmaster, this one with the step dial and the, lets say, characterful bezel, might be a good choice.

Its not a fine watch, but it is a fun watch with the right parts, there is even a chance it is original! It is bound to need a service at this level – but then I think everything here does. Everything everywhere does unless it has documents.

Lot 208 Estimate 4000-4500

OMEGA SPEEDMASTER CIRCA 1969, REF. 145022-68 ST “TRANSITIONAL” REFERENCE WITH APPLIED LOGO DIAL

Very nice to see this rare reference, but this one should be approached with caution. The bezel, while correct is damaged quite badly, but it does match the dial – unless it is the crystal that is damaged, the photo looks like it is one the dial.

The dial is correct, with the AML and long indices, but it is tired. The step shows abrasion. This watch is not in poor condition, but it is one I could only enjoy at a price. The question is, what is that price? For me this watch offered at a higher price than I think a similar one can be bought elsewhere.

Lot 209 Estimate 8000-12000

OMEGA SPEEDMASTER CIRCA 1962, REF. 2998-5 WITH “ALPHA” HANDS

There has been a flurry of 2998’s selling for big prices recently, but the high rices were for earlier models with short indices dials, and the high prices were for very attractive browns. I still think the black dial BASE 1000 2998’s price is around $25,000 – $45,000. and this watch can give us some clues why there is such a range. This watch is priced lower than all the others but with good reason.

The dial is poor, the plots are dirty and discolored. The bezel is incorrect, and the watch does not work. Its funny, because if this was presented as a barn find, people might go mad for it. But it is not a barn find, I think this watch has had a lot of internal work and not all of it good. (This is a GUESS. I suggest you have a look inside and be surprised and delighted if you find pristine screws in a clean movement).  Actually we do not know the movement number to check against other known examples.

There are going to be questions about the originality that will only answered by holding it and opening it.

At the low estimate, it should be worth buying, but bidding over the top estimate might need caution as remember this watch will always have a poor dial and still needs a bezel – and a service.

For comparables Chrono24 is your friend.

Good luck in the sale, keep all eyes open in this crazy time. Speedmasters are selling hard, they are flavor of the month, even the year. But when the music stops, make sure you are holding one that makes your heart sing with pleasure, as you may be looking at it for a while if that time comes. (And I could easily be a sour voice in the wind and speedmasters will continue their meteoric rise in value).

Two 2915 s for sale at Bukowskis in Stockholm

There are several Speedmasters coming for sale by Bukowski’s  in Sweden on 25th October 2017, and here are the details of the two 2915’s. I have not worked with this auction house but I have seen several successful sales to friends who work happily with them.

Try as I might, I cannot see if they charge a sellers premium, nor any sales tax. I have asked them to clarify.

Currently the Swedish Krona is 8.155283 SEK to $1 – I have quoted USD estimates, which the auctioneers give as one figure as opposed to a range.

This reference is terribly difficult to authenticate, so buying is often influenced by a history, and from the seller. This seller has a god reputation in buisiness, but very few of us have the confidence to jusdge a 2915 to 100% correctness in the same way that many can judge any other speedmaster reference. There is so much money riding on these, you must do your own due dilligence on the watch and not take anything I say as gospel. Dont take anything anyone says as gospel when it comes to a 2915. Know you are going in with the big boys and you might get bruised.

The reason I do not know as much about 2915’s in general is simply because I have not handled very many, in the same way as I have handles hundreds of 321 calibres of other references.

But we can proceed with a cool head, and using all our skills gathered over the years to make an informed opinion.

We need to make sure on a 2915 that dial, bezel and hands are original. Of course the rest too, but these items are a huge part of the value and are the parts most likely to have been changed. Of course notably the last 2915 Christies sold had a laser welded case, but that was obvious in hand.

There are plenty of very good reproduction bezels around. It is very, very hard to call them, as the originals had considerable variation – possibly hand engraved? I just dont know. The current service bezel is easy to spot as it has a larger font, and different profile. (See the second watch).

Lot 45   Omega Speedmaster 2915-1

Estimate USD $94,000

The auctioneers state this was manufactured June 6th, 1958, delivered to Sweden.  The auctioneer also states the watch was found by the owners son in the attic. (Wonderful! The history is getting to me…..).

Serial 15996369

Lets go through the important points:

Above we see the flattened “O” in Omega. The dial has no obvious step, and therefore I would accept this as original. The dial itself is in good condition and shows little damage, under the scratches on the glass. I think all the white scratches and lines are on the glass. There appear to be no watchmaker damages to the dial.

If the auctioneer is correct and this is a one owner little used watch, then the bezel might be assumed original, and indeed the font is the same as others I have seen declared original. Note the flat top on the “A”and the thin font generally.  Contrast that with the second watch.

We have a glimpse of the hands and they show a cross curvature that is in the original. The lume of the hands and the plots is well matched, will can be a red light, but they do look in original condition to me.

The insides look very clean, and there is no evidence of work on the movement.

Note that the screw heads are clean, and the parts are crisp.

The serial fits with range of the known examples. Again this photo shows very clean and untouched parts.

There is however a small issue, there is a screw, missing. Or more accurately I think the head of the screw as I think I can see the rest of it in the plate. This would not stop me one bit, and I am happy no clown tried to fix it before the sale.

Of course we have to wonder why it snapped off, and where is the head, and did it rattle around inside for a while? Even so, I dont see any damage and it indicated the watch has not been messed with, as if we need more.

Now we look at the case, and here is the back:

Here we see the “Speedmaster” engraving at the edge of the case back. Note also the clear bezel definition. I have not seen a case back in such good condition. It looks hardly worn. Here we can see also the early No6 endlinks with the single slot.

Also note the pushers:

These are either new, or the watch has hardly has any use at all. I think these pushers if new, are of the old design.

To summarise, I like this watch very much – it looks very little used, and in very fine condition. It is much better than any 2915 I have seen in auction during the last two years.

The watch comes on an original 7077 with correct single slot No6 endlinks.

What is it worth? Well I would not be surprised if it sold for double the estimate.

The link to the auction is here

Lot 46 Omega Speedmaster 2915-1

Estimate $37,000

There is a second 2915 in this auction. (Reminds me of the old days of Antiquorum, which was the last auction I saw more than one 2915-1 in the sale).

Serial 15500563

The Auctioneer states this was manufactured March 24th, 1958, delivered to Sweden.

Lets look closer, at the dial and bezel. I am confident the bezel is a new service replacement. Here is proof of a new bezel, the flat side which is not on the older versions:

Also the pushers are taller than those in the watch above.

The bezel is clearly a service replacement and carries the wrong profile and the font is deep, clear and what I call too tall.

The serial is unusual but I have seen three others before. (in the 15500xxx range).

The dial looks correct, with the flat O in Omega:

Also I always look at the short indices on the subdial:

Here we can also see the dial has numerous evidence of age and there are scratches here and elsewhere on the dial. The big scratch might be on the glass, but we can see other damages on the dial. So the dial is correct, and in fairly good condition for the age, but it is following a very fine watch in the previous lot!

The back of the watch is harder to see, but you can just make out the Speedmaster engraving. You can also see the the bevel is polished and lacks the same definition as the watch above.

Also you can see the pushers are taller than I might expect.

The insides show a more typical picture of an old watch – still good condition, but some wear and age – again this contrasts with the watch above. Note the darkened areas:

Now to be clear, I am not criticising this watch, rather I am using it to show how good the first watch is. Collectors often do not discern the differences in the movement, but I do. The first watch is a vastly superior quality in this area.

This watch is on leather. So no premium for a bracelet, and we have to take off value for the bezel.

This is a valuable watch, just overshadowed by the fine watch in the lot before. I would think that if Christies had these watches, they would have separated them in the selling order, but who knows. Maybe it makes no difference at all.

If I was to have to guess, I would say this would reach the estimate, and maybe more if the buyer does not mind the bezel.

You can see the lot here

(Header Image of Bukowski’s image from http://antiquesdiva.com – I hope they dont mind)

2998 At Bob’s Watches

I have been asked by more than one person about the 2998 offered for sale by Bob’s watches here.  The photo here is from the site, pending permission.

First we have to mention the seller, Bob’s Watches: This online business  is not known for vintage omegas, but has a very strong web presence – based out of California, and certainly gives a good impression of being a higher volume knowledgeable Rolex trader. I use the word trader deliberately, because it conveys the idea of a larger volume operation – and one that I have not heard anything bad about. (Nor have I dealt with them). This is a round about way of saying that I would not be put off buying from this company – but obviously do your own due diligence.

2998 offered by Bob’s Watches. Photo property of Bobs watches and is reproduced here pending permission.

So here we have a surprisingly respectable looking 2998. Surprising because as I said the seller is not known for omegas, and is a dealer, and so these two characteristics rarely produce an attractive watch.

In this case I have to say the watch is initially attractive. On close inspection there are some issues that you should be aware of. To be clear, I find the watch attractive and interesting, but we must consider further the value.

The hands need verification, in that we need to make sure they are vintage – so are the lume slots curved at the end, and are the hands curved across the width? The photograph and the possible relume make this hard to ascertain the shape at the end of the lume slots. These hands have become very hard to source, the last set sold for over $2,000.

We must remember – while attractive, it is not fine, and therefore we must take care not to pay a “fine” price. (I have deliberately avoided using the price chart terms as the price you pay is your price, not the price chart’s.)

The dial on closer examination of the photo shows damage in the form of what look like splashes on the dial. This is not immediately apparent but you need to zoom in. This is not uncommon but it is a degradation to take into account when deciding what to pay – in my eyes this is the real obstacle to paying a high (Or “fine” price for it.)

The lume plots on the dial are in reasonable condition, probably original. There is also some variation with the quality of the plots as we inspect around the dial.  I would guess the hands have been touched up because of the indistinct shapes on the hands, including the drop on the chronograph hand.

The bezel is slightly grey and shows wear, but this wear is commensurate with the rest of the watch, and so adds to the idea this might be a more honest watch than is often the case from a dealer. It is also worth mentioning that this bezel is better to have on a regular wearing watch – Les chance of financial loss in the case of damage or loss.

Is it worth the money? That depends on your point of reference. Recently a 2998 sold for $65,000 but had a far superior dial. You can read about it here.

There is a 2998 in chrono24 here and at $24,000 (give or take) this seems good value – however the dial is also damaged – it has what might be oil marks on the subdial. You will have to go to the listing to see the pictures. I am not sure about the new/vintage of the Alpha hands on this one either.

In conclusion, I think this watch is worth considering. If it is worth $28,000 then I sold a watch recently too cheap! However I suspect this price is just a little above market for what it is, and that is why it is still for sale. The poor dial and bezel hold it back, while the overall attractiveness, and apparent originality, help it up.

Watches Of Knightsbridge Results : WITH COMMENTS

I was about to write a list of prices achieved and my friend @Ewand over on www.OmegaForums.net beat me to it. I have produced his list and comments here. (thanks Ewan – see his post here)

Prices listed are £hammer, £final (incl 24% BP & tax), $final at current exchange rate of $1.36/£

Lot 178 – “Special Projects” thing – £39,000 £48,360 $65,770
Lot 179 – 105.012.66 – £5,600 £6,944 $9,444
Lot 180 – tired looking Ed White – £5,800 £7,192 $9,781
Lot 181 – pre-moon caseback -69 – £3,000 £3,720 $5,059
Lot 182 – Straight writing -71 – £4,400 £5,456 $7,420
Lot 183 – Another pre-moon -69 – £2,800 £3,472 $4,722
Lot 184 – chrono creeping -74 – didn’t sell, but I think the bidding went up to £2,800 £3,472 $4,722
Lot 185 – fairly honest looking -78 – £2,600 £3,224 $4,385

Lot 188 – Ed White with service dial – didn’t sell, but I think the bidding went up to £3,600 £4,464 $6,071

Lot 178 – “Special Projects” thing – £39,000 £48,360 $65,770

(I cannot present a picture as WOK have forbidden use of their images and I respect that. They have asked me not to comment on their auctions. Mmm. So here goes).

The Grey Dial sold strongly. It is nearly what the last Blue Solei dial sold for, though it is 5 times the last auction price of a previous example. of a grey. It is a rare reference, with Alphas, and the dial is rare. I cannot reconcile in my mind the description of special project as this is NOT an official Special Project in the sense accepted by any of my collector friends, and no documentation was presented by the sellers to back up this claim. I remain convinced it is a service dial. However I think the buyer will not regret this purchase in the long run – unless some watchmaker pulls out a drawer full! This danger is always lurking in my mind whenever we discuss the value of any rare dial, that somewhere there is a box full lying un opened. After all, would they really only make 10? Maybe. I do think these rare speedmaster dials will continue to rise in value (See PN Daytonas) – though I admit to being surprised what this one achieved.  These grey dials are less attractive, and always show chips and degradation – though this one is better than many. It makes me wonder what the much more attractive blue/grey Solei dial watches might fetch at auction if offered today.

Lot 179 – 105.012.66 – £5,600 £6,944 $9,444

This was my favorite watch in the auction and one I would try to buy if I were shopping. I think I could argue that it was a bargain compared to what $9,500 will buy you today, and I also think the 66HF cases are grossly underappreciated.

Lot 180 – tired looking Ed White – £5,800 £7,192 $9,781

This was tired, but cheap. It will benefit from a little TLC but it is not ever going to be a fine watch. It may however turn out to be rewarding – after all Ed Whites tend to start at around $15,000 and easily go higher if they are attractive and correct. Although I am hard on this watch, I am glad that this is offered for auction – not every watch needs to be perfect and this is a great opportunity for a wearable straight lug at a price that is more affordable. If you compare what has sold recently under $10,000 this is probably the one to have. What I was concerned about in these SpeedyMania times was that it would sell over estimate. It seems the buyers kept their heads on this one. Having the Archive really helped it sell I think. It may have been tired, but it was real!

Lot 181 – pre-moon caseback -69 – £3,000 £3,720 $5,059

This was another good buy. I liked this dial and the price is again not crazy – it does need some care but it will come up well.

Lot 182 – Straight writing -71 – £4,400 £5,456 $7,420

I cannot say this was a bargain. It is rare, but there have been others sold for less recently. True, not a lot less, but they were better watches. This one had a marked dial and needs a service and gentle restoration – not a going over but just a sympathetic careful one. I cannot say I would have regretted underbidding this one, it was top money.

Lot 183 – Another pre-moon -69 – £2,800 £3,472 $4,722

This was not a steal, but it was an OK buy – I think it is an interesting look, but the new owner would perhaps enjoy this watch after a sympathetic restoration, one that wont be a simple £150 service. At the end of the day it is going to come in at around $5500 and I just dont think its comparable to what one can find outside the auctions – but then it wasnt crazy, so this was I suppose an example of “Auction Tax”where we pay a little more so we can be sure there are others who would have paid nearly as much.

Lot 184 – chrono creeping -74 – didn’t sell, but I think the bidding went up to £2,800 £3,472 $4,722

There is doubt this sold – I am not surprised, it was too much for what it was.

Lot 185 – fairly honest looking -78 – £2,600 £3,224 $4,385

This was another good buy – as long as the dial turns out undamaged. An attractive honest watch that will be rewarding to own. It wasn’t cheap, but it was honest.

Lot 188 – Ed White with service dial – didn’t sell, but I think the bidding went up to £3,600 £4,464 $6,071

This was bid to what it was worth – A dial might cost $2000 to $6,000.

In summary this was an interesting selection to offer for sale. We could see a wide variety of qualities and rarities, and this is one of the best thing about WOK is this variety. I always feel they are closer to the more active lower end of the market. The big four auctions tend to be focusing on more Collector owned watches whereas I get the feeling from viewing WOK that they get a lot more estate type finds.