First is the dial. This looks to be quite beautiful in that there are no damages marks or decay that I can see.
It appears to be a correct, domed early dial with an Oval “O” in the Omega. The print is clean and the plots while not entirely complete, do appear to be original and in good condition, with very slight signs of patchiness, that can be forgiven for a watch of this age and otherwise quite good quality. It would be interesting to know the results of a Geiger test but I get the feeling that it would pass.
Do note that these photographs do not actually focus on the dial surface and so it is very difficult to see if there is any damage there. I’m not sure why this is the case perhaps there is an element of post processing.
The steel bezel on this watch is a round topped 3 version, which scholars tell me is the second generation bezel normally fitted to later 2915’s and also fitted as a replacement to the early bezels with a flat top three, which often fell off 2915-1’s due to production problems. I cannot tell you if this bezel is genuine or a modern reproduction that has been aged, because honestly at some point the reproductions will be perfect and impossible to tell. I can tell you it feels OK, but you have to be braver than me to allocate the $30,000 to $50,000 that some have been rumored to do.
The case on this watch has had some attention, and this is indicated first by the polish on top of the lugs, which is mirror finish without blemish. That cannot possibly be without any work since it left the factory.
Next we see the facets on the top of the lugs do appear to be almost too good. they are sharp, well defined, and the sides brushed. I’m not sure if that is going to put anybody off at all.
The case does have a very good impression, apart from the fact that those facets do look like they have been reworked to some extent. Either that or this is a spectacularly unworn example of a 2915. Our problem of course is that now that 2915’s have experienced such a massive uplift in values at auction, the motivation to rework these watches in an apparently unnoticeable way is very large.
Most original 2915’s even the most expensive have some evidence of marks on them but this one is extremely clean and the facets are very crisp. It is entirely possible that this watch has remained in a collection and unworn and unused. But then we would see surely a very clean bezel also.
I know in this dystopian regulated time, we are prepared to trust the internet, but I would really like to hold this watch before spending money on it.
The movement looks very clean and correct. The watch has an extract dating it to 1958 which makes it one of the very earliest examples.
This photograph also illustrates how good the case is and how sharp the definitions of the edges are. It is going to be up to the buyer to decide whether or not this is an original fine condition watch, or a watch that has had a considerable amount of work to bring it up to this admittedly fine standard. This angle also shows the end links which look absolutely knew to me. Whilst this is possible in an original vintage watch from 1958 I would think that it’s only possible if the watch was never worn. Otherwise perhaps these are replaced endlinks either with NOS or they have been remade. I am not qualified with the information I have to make that decision and it is something that the buyer will have to satisfy themselves of.
This is a very clean attractive example of a very rare watch. The estimate of 120,000 to 220,000 Swiss francs is right where I would expect a sensible valuation to be for this watch (remember there is 25% Commission to add on top.)
If I was to be a buyer of this watch I would want to satisfy myself that the dial was radium, that the hands were original, and that the case was original. The more I look at the case the more I think that it is had a restoration, and the more I look at those end links I can’t come up with a reason as to why they look so good, so if I was a buyer I would be examining the case and the end links extremely carefully. That said I suspect that the buyers will not be put off by either of those situations given the current climate.
Next example is this 2989-4, with a lot of attractive characteristics. The first catalogue photograph shows the plots to be very orange but thankfully the detailed shots give us a better idea of the actual color which is more correct.
It has the triangle alpha hands and the very rare lollipop.
The dial has an excellent body with very minor blemishes, the largest of which is in the lower subdial between the four and the five marker, as this mark appears in all shots of the dial I feel it must be an actual mark rather than a piece of dust. For me this does make a big difference in the value. It’s the kind of thing that once you see it, seems to get larger the longer you own it. I find this anomaly is amplified if I have paid a full price for something, and that if I have got something for a real bargain, I don’t mind it so much.
Otherwise the dial is in very good condition. It has the slight step that I would expect to see in this reference and the plots appear to be in good original condition, although it is always possible they may have had some adjustment. The color and the granularity, and the fact that the luminous material matches the lollipop would make me want to have a good look with a loupe, but I am not overly suspicious.
This has a dot over 90 bezel which is what I would expect. The condition of the bezel, while not being bad, is a little poor for a watch that is being asked 30 to 40,000 Swiss francs (plus 25% commission).
There are several damages particularly at the 400 mark and also a severe dent between 75 and 70. This just has to be borne in mind when arriving at a final value
The case on this watch appears to be honest with a minor amount of work on it but otherwise obviously original. There are various tiny marks around the edges that suggested has been worn over the years and also there is a very small amount of corrosion on the back. All of this suggests that the case is original and that any work that may have been done to it is minor.
Compare the look of this case with the previous lot, and you will see why I have reservations as to originality of the super clean 2915 case in the previous lot.
There is a problem for me on the case back in that there is an small extra facet polished onto it so instead of having two steps it has three. This is not uncommon on 2998’s and I really don’t like it. By that I mean if it has this extra facet I reduced the valuation. I can find enjoyment in any watch no matter what has been done to it provided it matches the price.
The hands on this watch my favorite specification, with the large triangle slot on the alpha hand and the lovely lollipop hand.
The pushes appear to be old and correct as does the crown. I think the crystal may be incorrect as it seems to lack the rehaut.
This is one of those watches that is very attractive on first impression, but on close examination shows some issues that you need to understand before paying the price of a watch that is without these issues.
Now that the prices of these early straight lugs is so high we have to start taking notice of things that would previously not have worried us. None of the issues on this watch are serious, however the price being asked is.
We have a very good looking watch with a highly desirable handset, and it is slightly let down by the appearance of the bezel and the case back. This is the most difficult kind of watch to value accurately, as the issues that I have highlighted will all be valued differently by different people, and that is the fun of buying vintage speedmasters. A naive or over enthusiastic buyer might ignore these flaws completely and be happy to go over the high estimate, where somebody like myself who has owned a watch with a triple step caseback and a mark on the dial might find it harder to be keen on. As I said it’s an extremely attractive watch and the issues are not major. It will be very interesting to see how it sells.