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.