At first glance this is an amazing example.A fabulous dial, without noticeable flaws, a beautiful tropical fade, and correct.
This watch also illustrates the problems many of us have, who are perhaps not as experienced as some in assessing a watch like this correctly. What I mean by this is that sometimes a watch is so good that many without experience are unable to verify it as an excellent, original example, as opposed to one with doubts over the lume or bezel. It is because it is so good, that verifying it can be so difficult.
First the basics. It is a 2988-2 in correct specifications. It has the short indices in the subdials, and a round O in the Omega script. SWISS MADE at the bottom indicates this dial ought to be radium lume, and the dial is domed without an obvious step. (A serious buyer will ask Phillips for a Geiger reading, even though these can be fudged by placing a spot of radium under the dial, and in any event if it does give a radioactive reading, it could be from the hands only, or that splodge under the dial).
The condition of the dial body colour is, from the photographs I see, fantastic. There is no obvious blemish or scratch, and of course the colour has faded to what appears to be a very attractive brown. The print is defined, clear intact and in very good condition. I like this dial very much.
So now we come to the plots, and we always have to ask is this a re lume. The plots are in amazing condition, even colour and very attractive. We can inspect them and see that there are a couple of areas that might throw concern. On the main photo the 10 o’clock marker could look a little sloppy, fat and blobby toward the centre of the dial. Here on the enlargement, we can see that there is no over-spill or leakage that we often see in a re lume. It is clean. I do not think this is a re lume.
Moving on to the other plots they also all look clean. I look to the edge of the markers and watch for any signs of binder or leakage, which shows as a shiny spill. Sometimes we see marks around the plots where the technician has tried to tidy up his work.
Now it is always possible that this is a perfect re lume but on balance we do not see any of the tell tale signs, instead we see really fine, undamaged markers. Another thing to bear in mind is that the minute tack is exceptional and shows no signs of damage or wear – consequently it is to be expected that the plots are also in exceptional condition.
I have seen two other 2998’s with similar markers in equally fine condition, and so I have to say that while exceptionally rare, this lume does compare to known examples.
Here we can see more lume, and also note the colour of the hands is slightly different to the plots. If you are re luming then it is no challenge to make them a different colour but often the relumers do not change the paint. If they are a perfect match that is a warning sign. The Alpha hands have narrow lume slots, and we can see curved ends to those slots on the minute hand while the hour hand has a distinctly squared off end. Both hands have a transverse curve.
Lets look at the lollipop. I would have to say that it has been re lumed. Why? Because the colour just does not look right, it looks like custard. Most lollipops I see are greenish radium lume, and often in terrible condition. Most original lollipops have damaged or missing lume, as it is a huge area to stay stable over this length of time, so I have to say I expect all lollipops to be worked on. This shot also shows more of the plots, which while again not covering the markers neatly, do not show and leakage or binder that we see in re lumes.
The BASE1000 bezel is also in Excellent condition. It is extremely rare to see one in as undamaged condition as this.
I must say it is unusual as the finish is slightly matte and grey, and I have not seen this often. Mostly the bezels I see are shiny and quite hard to photograph, but I do not see any signs this is anything other than an original bezel, albeit with unusual aging. Don’t forget that the bezels I see are in generally much more worn condition than this. There is also a gap between the insert and the steel carrying ring that is unusual to see. So while I am not entirely happy with the bezel, I cannot give you hard evidence that it is wrong.
There is no doubt this is a very attractive watch, a rare correctly appointed example of a rare reference, and it sounds cheap for the $38,000 listed at the low estimate.
Although of course we need to add 26% commission, which makes the estimates in reality $47,500 to $95,000. I have always believed a good brown dial 2998 “should/could” be worth in the region of $100,000, and it will be interesting to see if Phillips can rustle up this level of interest. Another thing of note is that this is the only speedmaster in the Phillips Geneva sale this time.
The thing is, why is it in this auction at all?
Davidoff brothers recently sold this watch, or at least they had it on their site (Click here) and it is now marked as sold. (HQ Milton and Tropical Watches in USA both regularly take watches on consignment and mark unsold returned watches as sold – it seems standard and accepted practice in the vintage watch business). So did it sell, and the client turned round and gave it to Phillips? Or did Davidoffs refuse to take it back from the client? Or was it never the Davidoffs watch to begin with, and failed to sell with them?
None of these conjectures are meant to cast aspersions on anyone, it is simply the way of the world now. And in today’s internet world there are few secrets. Any buyer with an internet connection and five minutes will google the serial and find it.
So I am exited to see the result. I think the buyer will end up with a good watch, very attractive and rare 2998 which is very hard to find.
The question is, does it have that special attractive quality that is going to appeal to the high level collector with $100,000 to spend? Or will it settle round $50,000.
Or will all the buyers sit on their hands and stick to the financial safety of Rolex and Patek?
I will watch the auction!