Phillips 2915-1 Sold for $412,000

The worlds most expensive speedmaster sold at Phillips Auction House. You can see the original Hi Res from the Phillips listing here

This sold for a huge sum, CHF408,000 including premium.

Here is a better photo of the Phillips watch:

We can see it exhibits correct 2915-1 characteristics, in that it has the correct dial with a dome, short sub dial indices, AML, and SWISS MADE, and a flat oval in Omega. The Condition Report, (not the catalog description, notes the dial is re lumed with tritium).

It has the Speedmaster engraving at the edge of the back:

The catalog is glowing in its description, and I must admit it does excite me:

 “The present Speedmaster example is however one of the extremely scarce -1 iterations, and furthermore preserved in extremely attractive condition: the dial is virtually flawless and has turned a perfectly balanced and harmonious dark chocolate color, the luminous material has evenly aged to an outstandingly attractive intense tobacco hue. According to the Archives of Omega, it was sold in Costa Rica on December 17, 1958. This would suggest a mid-1958 production date which perfectly matches some details of the specimen: the caseback is still blank, without Seahorse engraving, and this is possibly one of the very last examples made with this caseback. The bezel instead is a Mark II version, with rounded 3 instead of flat one. Mid-1958 is exactly halfway through the production run of the model, a detail which perfectly explains this rare “transitional” configuration.

Considering how intensively these wristwatches were used by their original owners, it is an extremely rare occurrence for a 2915-1 to arrive to us in such an unspoiled condition. In fact, it was common practice at the time to heavily polish the case during service, and also to change various parts of the watch (bezel, pushers, crown) to a later version in order to maintain and/or improve the water resistance of the piece. Luckily, this appears to be the exception that proves the rule; actually, the watch is offered even with its original box and instruction leaflet, giving additional insight into the “first purchase experience” reserved to the buyers in 1958.” – Extracted from Phillips description

So to summarise, this is a special example of the first Speedmaster, with a Chocolate dial and apparently original specification, with box, papers and an extract. It ticks all the boxes for an ignorant  naive “Investor” buyer and is a testament to Phillips ability to present a watch, which is frankly, fantastic. (the presentation!).

So what should we be worried about? In no particular order:

  • Is the bezel original?
  • Are the hands original?
  • Has the case been Polished?
  • Does the whole package ring true?

The bezel is always a worry in this reference – the reproductions are very good, but more challenging is the fact that we cannot see many examples of known original bezels. The fact this is a simple steel ring, that has been engraved, makes it straightforward to reproduce, though obviously requiring skills I for one do not have. This watch has inspired a lot of discussion by Orchi on Instagram Here . He makes the point that a pantograph cannot produce a “Serif” on the letters, that is the little tail of the edge of the symbol. Now I do not know if all the bezels were made by Pantograph, it needs more investigation. Certainly I need to find out what a Pantograph is and what it can do. Here is a close up of the Phillips Bezel:

Detail from the Phillips 2915

For comparison here is the close up of the Bukowski bezel:

The 2915 sold by Bukowski

The Bukowski watch was sold with the description of it being hidden away with one family all its life, so the weight of evidence is that this is an original bezel. As you can see it lacks serifs. Look closely at the “T”s which are straight lines across the top, no drop serifs.

Here is a photo of the whole watch, the listing is still up here

Image from the Bukowskis. This watch was described as being found in the attic by descendants of the original owner. Not the lack of serifs on the bezel, the non matching colour of the lume on the dial and hands, and that the whole watch appears original

So we can safely say the two bezels were not made in the same way.

Going back to the Phillips watch, what about the hands? Again we have little to go on in terms of certified originals, but these ones have a transverse curve and look like they could be original, as opposed to the service hands which are flat. The lume deterioration adds to the impression but that can be created by skilled craftsmen. EDIT: I missed the updated catalog description that actually calls this a relume – It is carefully worded to say, “some time ago…” but it is still a confirmed relume. (Thanks to Mr Inox for sending me the condition report that was not accessible to me).

What goes against this as having original hands is that they are matching in colour with the dial plots, and this is something I now associate with possible re lumes. Again comparing the Bukowski watch where we see a difference in colour between the hand lume and the dial plots.

Cases are always polished, to some extent. In the case of all the watches on this page they have been polished but not destroyed. And at least the cases have not been rebuilt like the 2915-1 sold by Christies for an unforgivable $137,000 in December 2015.

So what about the price? Well when the Bukowski watch sold for $275,000 and the thoughts among my friends was it was an outlier, where someone really believed the story, (and why not) and two people really wanted it. We did not think it was a repeatable price. How wrong I was.

More I think will be revealed when this, Lot 9, a 2915 -1 sells at Christies in June. The link is here

A quick precis of my opinion on this is that the dial is round oval, where I would like to see an oval in “Omega”. The short incies sub dial is there, and the AML. The hands, from this one photograph look a little flat and I would like to eliminate the possibility they are later additions, especially given the matchi – matchi lume colour.

The bezel lacks any serifs.

So where are we with 2915’s?
Well I think I have learned a little for the bezels, and I have some direction to research. The prices are looking like they are headed upwards but there are so few available it is hard to really name the price as high or low.

Lets see what happens at Christies.