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Blue Soleil Dial

A very rare watch.

I believe, in the absence of a better theory that these blue, metallic dials are in fact service dials fitted by Omega. Why?

  • There is no known listing of these dials that suggests that this was an option to buy new in a speedmaster – there are no contemporary photos or catalogs showing a blue metallic dial.. (But nor was the Ultraman which the museum has recently announced is a “Real Model”)
  • There are very few seen, and to my knowledge these have been seen on 2998, 105.003 and 145.012.
  • I have seen three different executions. A short indices non pro, a long indices dial non pro, and a short indices 145.012 professional dial. (This last one out of my grasp – I call it the Time Titans watch, as I saw it with them several years ago and I failed to buy it).

I will be happy to be shown another theory but this is what I have so far.

Here is a very curious example. It has the blue metallic dial that I call Soliel. This dial body colour is also seen on Omega TV dials and some Seamasters, but never in a production 321/861 speedmaster.

This is a 2998. Even though it lacks the hands we would expect to see, that is what is inside the caseback and the serial matches my observations for this particular reference.

As you can see the hands have been replaced with baton hands, which might fit with the idea that this watch had a substantial service and parts replacement, perhaps with Omega.

I believe that this watch is a correct Omega watch, because I was told by an auction house that a blue dial that I bought was under bid by the museum.

 

Antiquorum Post updated to show prices

The Antiquorum sale passed by without any major price surprises, apart from my own surprise that they found homes at all – for some of them were really poor, shoddy examples masquerading as interesting.

Scroll down and you will see the updated post.

You can see Antiquorum’s full price list here.

Antiquroum Geneva 14th May

I have updated the page to show sold prices.

Antiquorum are having a sale in Geneva on 14th may.

AQ are having a web re branding and have now adopted the web address “.SWISS”. Confusing as the old .com is still active, yet out of date. The new site is www.antiquorum.swiss

On to the Speedmasters. Quite a few this time, and some have problems. AQ really is a notch down in terms of its curating. That doesn’t bother me, but we must remember to be even more vigilant when viewing at this House;

Lot 365 145.012-67 Estimate $4500-6500

Sold For $9375

Good bezel, nice colour plots, all correct as far as I can see. A good watch I think. The end link looks wrong but that is minor. I like the look of this watch, but we have to be careful. That red background is flattering, as is the whole photo. Because of that 1mm gap in the endlink, I am suspicious of everything, so I would like to inspect in hand before bidding. As I say this is a common theme with Antiquorum lots.

Lot 366 145012-67 Estimate $4000-6000

Sold For $6250

This is showing some dirt around the pushers and crown. Also the case lugs look a little “soft” indicating too much polishing. The plots are dirty but there is some luminous material present. Bezel is not so nice and shows signs of repairs with a felt pen or paint.  This is not as attractive as the previous lot. It comes without a bracelet and is a much less attractive buy than the first. However a viewing of all these watches might change all our minds, but I do not think this watch will ever be fine.

Lot 370 105.012-66 Estimate $5000-7000

Sold For $7500

A real tart, this one. Good from far and far from good. I suppose this is an HF case judging by the lug shape, and lack of facet line. This is the first of some smelly lots, and I  am deeply wary of it. The bezel is an unusual colour, and especially so given the presence of similar looking bezels on the following lots. Also the similar straps indicate that they were strapped by the same person. Either the auction house, or the consignor, who may possibly Italian from the look of these watches, which are very attractive on first presentation. This watch has orange plots and matching hands, and this odd brown bezel. The Chrono hand is the wrong square ended one, and yet the lume is perfectly matching. I think this watch has been prepared. At least the pushers are the thick tubed originals with short caps. My thinking on this lot and the following can be taken together.

Lot 371 105.012-65 Estimate $4000-6000

Sold For $7500

So now you see what I mean – Similar orange plots (though not quite so orange, but similar looking), matching lume on the hands and that brown bezel, along with the same style strap. These watches cannot be original. This one has service pushers, not a crime but in the 105.012 it is more obvious than other references.

At the low estimate these will be nice looking watches, but they are not in my opinion original and therefore not worth going “Medieval”on the bidding.

They are attractive, but both this and the previous lot lot appear to have been prepared for sale. The bezels make me deeply suspicious. They are never going to be valuable watches, but this is exactly what I am talking about when I discuss poor quality watches being dragged to higher values that they do not really deserve – to be discovered later when the market consolidated as buyers become educated.

Lot 375 145.022-74 Estimate $3000-5000

Sold for $3750

Another similar strap, and a bleached looking bezel. For this watch I would want to see if it has a stepped dial, which is more valuable. I do think this is more expensive by comparison. It still smells of a dealer to me.

Lot 376 105.003-65 Estimate $20,000 – 30,000

Sold For $25,000

This looks like it could be really nice. The dial appears to be in fine condition and a lovely colour. This MUST be viewed as the slightest deviation from fine in terms of colour and condition and the value will plummet. I have a feeling this will fly.

It looks in correct condition, case is a little polished but they all are.

I really like the look of this, and I feel it could go in excess of the high estimate because of that dial – it all depends on what it looks like in real life.

The Chef’s Watch

It is always a pleasure when people contact me through the site, and even more so when they want to sell a family watch. These watches handed down have more integrity and originality, and for some reason the history seems to stay with the watch.

This watch got the moniker “The Chef’s Watch” as the current owner, Dan,  is a professional chef. It came to him from his father, who had given it to his grandfather. One of the first photos he sent was this:

The Chef at work! Hence the nick name for this watch.

Well if a speedmaster can survive Apollo it ought to survive a kitchen!

Here is what he sent me: The watch, with a fresh Omega service document, a bag of replaced parts, (including hands thank heavens) and a 1039 in fairly used condition – hence the service bracelet.

Here is what arrived. it is a 145.022-69 with recent Omega history and a bag of spare parts.

The watch was bought on board a US Navy ship. Now I think about it, I should have called it the “USS Joseph Strauss” (pictured above)  watch and increased the military connection!

Here is the Dan’s grandfather, wearing the watch, starting his plane.

Here is the extract from the Dan’s email to me:

The watch was bought by my father Tom Ryan Jr in the ships store on the USS Joseph Strauss (DDG-16) in approximately 1969 to 1970 somewhere in the oceans off the coast of Vietnam. It was a gift for my grandfather to wear while flying his plane.

Attached is the picture of my grandfather,[starting his ‘plane] as well as a picture of my father’s ship where the watch was bought.

Such a lot of history in such a short note. Here we can see the Owner’s last name scratched into the case back. In many cases this would devalue the watch, but here again I would argue the history and provenance  of the watch becomes stronger as a result:

It really is a privileged to acquire an important family watch  like this and a watch like this is not one I would ever plan to sell as I can feel the originality and the history.

Here it is, with the service 1171 bracelet removed. It looks in very nice condition.

Dan’s 145.022-69. Here we can see the hands are modern Superluminova. Luckily I was sent the originals.

When we turn it over we see a small area of corrosion, that I had not reckoned on. This is not uncommon, and the history of the watch far outweighs the damage.

Corrosion just at the join between the caseback and the mid case. I do not think it will be a great problem but possibly the watch will fail water testing. (not uncommon for vintage).

I have sent it to the workshop, for a service and to return the vintage hands onto it. After examining it, Simon Freese declared the watch was in fine order, not needing a movement service. We did need to replace the crown, and changed the hands as planned. There was also a minor issue with the setting lever screw, which had come loose (The screw that releases the stem from the movement).

Here it is before the hand change. You can see how white the hands are, they blow the white balance on the camera, also note the greenish tinge to the luminous material in the hands which contrasts with the original yellowish lume on the dial plots:

Here we have the old hands ready to go back on:

The watch is still at the workshop, and I have put into Omega for an extract of the archives, and it will be very interesting to see where Omega shipped the watch originally.

More on this watch later, when it returns and I have the extract.

105.002-62 with T dial and Perfect Case

This watch was acquired by me some time ago. At the time I was hesitant to buy it – becasues it had a T SWISSMADE T Dial – which is generally accepted as not seen in this reference. I did not realise at the time quite how good the case is.

105.002-62

According to all literature the 105.002-62 should only come with a dial that is marked SWISS MADE. So that would imply this dial is not original to the watch. This watch has as an exceptional case, and very little evidence that it has been worked on. So I cannot think of a really plausible explanation as to why the dial has been changed. My next step is to order an extract.

Note the thickness and definition of the lugs:

105002-62 with exceptional case, and clean bracelet
Note the side finish appears original and undamaged
Undamaged side
Sharp edges on the lower case
Note the lug definition. While these show clear lines there is some evidence of wear and so I think this is an unpolished, fine condition case.

To sum up. This is a watch with a question mark over the originality of the dial. The case is so good, it would suggest it has not seen much wear, and so not a lot of servicing.

As to the value. The dial is correct for a 105.003 – and this in itself has considerable value. All things being equal the 105002 dial is more valuable but it would be vary hard to quantify how the value in this watch is affected, because the overall quality is so high.

If the extract shows a late delivery, I wonder if it is possible that the dial was fitted at the factory. More will be revealed when we open it and inspect the movement for previous service.

Time 4 a Pint Podcast

The genius behind the OF get togethers has started making pod casts, and very good they are too. The lizard above goes under the umbrella of Time For A Pint.

T4P just launched its third episode. These shortish, well planned watch themed podcasts are a refreshing and entertaining insight into collectors thoughts. Like me, Chris is not financially motivated and these podcasts are a real pleasure to listen to. No adverts, no endorsements. Just opinions without bias.

I agreed to be interviewed by him for his third episode, and you can hear it here. Or below:

I have to say it was disappointment not to open the door to a drunk man in a lizard suit clutching a reel to reel tape deck and a smile – well he had the smile, and we had fun talking.

If you want an insight into just how far away from any evolutionary useful trait a watch collector has reached, tune in.

We got to talk about two of my favorite watches:

Hear the story here

Check out Chris’s excellent site and stay up to date with his world.

https://www.time4apint.com/

As well as links to the other episodes.

Support the Lizzard.

145.012 Dial Sold for $2974

When a dial sells for more than many of us have paid for an entire example of the reference it belongs to, we have to look at it forensically.

This just sold for Sterling 2400 which equates to $2974 plus shipping so as near $3000 as makes no difference.

For those who are looking for this dial, this example is the best I have seen on the market for a long time, and it is a very rare thing.

As with any Ebay purchase we must verify the seller – in this case we need do no further due diligence as the seller is well known as trustworthy and a seller of good items – so good his lots often reach high prices as people clearly have confidence. Ebay is not as anonymous as many think – good sellers are known and followed.

There are no pictures of the reverse, which is surprising. However, I am sure the dial feet are correct and complete, and that the back of the dial exhibits the kind of aging we expect to see in a dial of this vintage. So I expect a makers mark and some natural discolouration of the brass,

When I look at a dial I am looking for the following:

  1. Correct Base plate
  2. Correct feet
  3. Colour of the face
  4. State of the white printing, (minute track and lettering)
  5. State of the edge
  6. Plot condition
  7. Lume material and cover
  8. AML postion and condition

That’s a lot more than many often take into account before buying – often the blood rushes to the head and the desire for that rare part overtakes or blinds reason.

In this case the base plate clearly shows a step. I would have liked to see the back, but in this I would trust this seller.

Clear view of the step, and the degraded edge and T SWISS MADE T

Now I turn to the colour of the face, that is the “black”. In parentheses because of course in Speedmaster dials, there are many different “blacks”. This dial exhibits the kind of off-black that I like. In one photo there seems to be a lingering feeling there is a touch of brown, but only a hint. This I find attractive. (I think many, many people will not see any brown, and this is in NO WAY a brown dial – it is just that when placed next to a new, service dial, it will appear slightly faded).

This shot, in a slightly different light and angle, shows the base colour to be slightly off-black. This is only seen in old dials.

In the shot above we can also see the step near the 2 O’clock marker is easily seen, with a white or lighter line on the edge. This is something only an old dial will acquire – If it is severe, then some use it as evidence of abrasion acquire while outside a watch, perhaps in a spare parts drawer – not the case in this dial.

Now the white printing. There appears to be damage at the 2 1/2 minute marker on the track.

There is a white speck at the 2.5 minute mark – this may be dust, but it is in all the photos

And the T SWISS MADE T is showing some print worn. Perhaps a loose movement in the case.

The lower part of the printing gets progressively more damaged from the second S until half of the E and last T are missing.

The edges of the dial are for the most part undamaged, except for the minor damage near the TST mark.

The plots. These are described as untouched, not relumed. I think it is clear that is the case. These plots are missing lume in patches, and where it remains it is a pleasant yellowish colour.

The 10 O’clock and the 1 o’clock markers are the worst, having lost almost all the lume, and the 11 and 12 marker has the most. The eye is a funny thing. My eye goes to 12, then 1 when I look at a dial, and so I see good then bad – and that impression stays. If my eye went instead to the left, so 12 then 11, I would start with the idea the plots were ok. Downhill form there of course, but the impression stays.

Showing 90% lume on the 12, and 11 – then 0% on the 10 marker

The Applied Metal Logo looks fine, with a little expected pitting.

I liked this dial. The problems are quite minor, and the dial has acquired a charming patina. I did not like the missing lume – but it is a lot better than some. I was a bidder up to about 2000 USD and then I ducked out. At $3000 you have about $5000 left for the watch – and for that you have to have it serviced, and have the right hands and bezel to make it worth it. I do know of several people looking for a dial like this – there were three active bidders from STG 1700 up to the winning bid of STG 2400.

I also think the dial will improve “under glass”.

To put it into perspective, here are two examples, one with lume and one without.

Here is an example of a 145.012-67, before I worked on it to service it and improve the look of the hands. The dial has a full lume and the printing is complete – it is a good dial, and watch is only let down by previous services that put the wrong hands on.

From my own collection, as bought. The crystal is very scuffed and the hands are replacements, Otherwise the watch is sound, and requires service. Note the lume is complete except for the 7 o’clock which has lost 15%.

Here is an example of a 145.012 where all the lume has been washed off – this gives all the plots a white appearance as there is only the base paint left:

Here the watch is entirely original, but the dial has lost all its lume. It is the practice of some watchmakers to “scrape”the dial to remove any loose material, or potentially loose, to avoid it falling into the movement. A dial like this, many would say, is better relumed.

A look at some recently sold 105.012’s

Here are three recent ebay sales of 105.012. These watches do seem typical of the choice a buyer now has. They all come via dealers, and have problems that a knowledgeable buyer will easily spot. So lets learn from them. Its always more interesting to learn from poorly prepared watches – and these do seem to be prepared for sale.

105.012-65 Serial 22825xxx

Ebay, March 5th 2017,

Sold for $7500

Very nice looking dial and handset, not so nice bezel.

Service pushers.

The dial lume is very even and strong. Is it relumed? Well it does seem incongruous with the state of the movement. I have to be honest the reason I question the lume is the colour, the condition, and…the fact the seller is in Italy. If it is a relume it is very good, so good I have to wonder, does it even matter? I have not fully answered that one yet. One thing, that compared to a dial with washed off lume, showing only white indices, the price is the same.

But look at the movement – this is never going to come up to standard that Omega requires when returning a watch after service. Note the discolouration on the movement, and the corrosion on the steel parts. The parts are also different colours.

I would not be too thrilled about those engravings on the lugs, probably watchmakers marks.

The pushers are the modern service replacements

I dont think this watch can be sorted with the movement issues – which is a shame because rest is quite acceptable.

105.012-65CB Serial 25441811

Ebay February 6th 2017

Sold for $8300

(Uraguay seller but with good pedigree)

Good looking watch, with the wrong pushers but still with the facet lines on the lugs unique to this case.

This is a much better watch – still needs a little work to correct the pushers but a fabulous bezel and a good dial. Hands show some damage from service.

Movement is clean and correct.

Clear view of incorrect pushers, and also the engraving ÖSTERR. RUNDFUNK which from a quick google search could be the Austrian broadcaster.

This is a much better deal. In fact I think this would have sold for higher if offered in USA or EU.

This watch is deceptively good.

105.012-65CB Serial 254xxxx

Ebay February 2th 2017

Sold for $6200

Nice looking dial, ok hands, poor bezel, and polished case – it has lost its facet lines.

The polishing work is obvious by the blurred lines on the case back.

The movement is again corroded, and this one shows damage to screws as well. Its not good.

This watch is the cheapest of the three, and the least likely to give long term pleasure. The movement is poor and the case is over polished. What made it sell was the dial, which is nice and the heart of the value.

See more about 105.012’s here

 

Opening Up The Ski Patrol Watch

So here is the investigation of my latest Speedmaster, from a private owner who had it since new. I was told that it went to Omega once for a service.

So time to open it. First undo the springbar in the clasp. Pahawi’s opener in the background – it makes opening SO much easier and safer. Even if the only thing you ever do is open your watch once to check the number it is worth it. Check the link, and order yourself one.

It fits perfectly, into each slot. The brass material is softer than the steel, so less likely to cause damage.

So we open this up, revealing the dust cap. Under this lighting, the dust cover seems to have some discolouration, and we can also clearly see the gasket has degraded and disintegrated.

I lift the dust cover off with a blade. Some recomend a watch knife, but I prefer the blade as I need less pressure, and I think less possibility of damage. Being sharper, I can get between the cover and the movement ring, and it lifts easily. I find a watch knife too blunt, and the temptation for me is to apply too much pressure.

The dust cover, showing slight discolouration.

Lets see the inside case back:

145.022-69. There is one watchmaker’s mark. (These marks are quite beyond my understanding). So what we should see is the movement is an 861. Here it is:

So we see it is marked 861. The serial is 28.4m, that puts it right at the start of the -69 production – and that means the DO90 bezel is correct. Gratuitous DO90 shot…..(Shame about the dent)

Clean movement, dirty outside. In fact the movement is exceptionally clean.

Note the screw heads. None show any damage, and there are no signs of any work. This is good. It means we can work on this watch knowing that no-one has gone in before us and messed it up.

Low lets look at the pushers. Plenty of corrosion and on this reference I would have no problem replacing the service pushers as they are exactly the same. We can just see some clean screws in this shot too.

Movement in general looks very clean, with clean screws, a degraded gasket and plenty of dirt around the outside, which we must be careful not to let inside while we inspect.

Here we clearly see the scratches in the Hessalite. While polishing would improve it, I think we will replace it along with the pushers. If I can get an identical crown, then I will replace that too.

It is tempting to leave everything as is, just service the inside – but those pushers are really crusty.

 

A Wonderful Thing. One Owner 145022-69

Every now and then the stars align and two people come together and both get what they want. A fine gentleman contacted me asking if I would like to buy his watch, that he had owned since new.

Oh yes I would.

One owner watches are a grail to me, unmolested and with full, if undocumented history. I now see these watches look different, Genuinely different from many of the watches offered by dealers or even collectors that have had a bezel swapped here or hands changed here – The more owners a watch has, the less original it looks. Its a hard thing to spot, but it is a skill that if you are in this hobby, you cannot fail to pick up.

Even servicing changes a watch, and the difference in an Omega standard service and a less skilled independent, can be obvious to me, when the independent is not as careful. If you want to know what I am talking about, google “Watchmaker Screwdriver dressing”.

As always when dealing with strangers over the net, we both circled slowly…..The more I learned the more I liked – He works the ski patrol, an retired Sherifs Deputy….how cool. One of the photos of the watch sent to me included a shot of four ski patrollers – the guys who get you down safe when you break a leg or do something stupid.

So we talked back and forth. I tend to over pay for a privately owned watch because firstly if they have contacted me through here, I feel an obligation to give a full honest valuation, and secondly, I do not want to have the seller go anywhere else, if it is a private, untouched watch. The most important factor, is that I do not need to factor in a profit. This is my hobby.

So I thought of a price, added a bit on, then added more on, so that I could not be accused of taking advantage. Then I organised Parcel Pro to pick it up. Made all easy. I had no qualms send the money by wire first.

When it arrived, I was thrilled to see included was an original brochure from 1960’s or 1970’s.

Look at the scratches on the crystal – another sign of an original watch!

I was told this watch was serviced in the 1970’s by Omega, but thankfully all seems to be original. The crystal has some deep scratches but that never bothers me. The movement feels a little stiff, but my next trip to STS is next week.

I have not had time to follow my own advice – I have not opened the back, and checked the serial and case back – that will have to wait until I have a clear hour or so, with no circling children. (A word to the amatuer watchmaker – wait till the children are asleep before doing even the simples of operations. One Slip, and you will hate yourself each time you look at the watch).

More on this wonderful, One Owner Watch next week when I get it open.  (Using Pahawi’s opener of course).