Sothebys Speedmaster Sale July 2019

We have not seen a Speedmaster Themed auction quite like this before. The Christies auction in New York had some good watches, but was less focused, and less actual vintage speedmasters. (It had only 17 vintage speedmasters in 50 lots).

Here we have a sale that is aimed at a wider market, beyond nerdy collectors. Perhaps to those who might be buying a speedmaster for the first time, or because of the Apollo connection. There is a selection of watches suited to the first time buyer. There are one or two that might appeal to the mature collector, but also to the watch collector unfamiliar with Omega. What this sale lacks is a lot of top quality, superb and flawless examples with a deep provenance and in top condition. (There are a couple that are close). But remember, these examples will trade for prices that only a few people will understand. I think Sothebys have aimed this sale at a wider audience.

For most of the lots here I would ask for extra photos of any watch you are interested in, if you are unable to view. Ask for daylight shots, as we need to see what they actually look like. If you read about Lot 27 you will see a comparison of the Sotheby’s photo of the watch compared to the owners own photo – which allows a better assessment of the body colour and texture of the dial.

The photos are very detailed, and each watch has further images of the back and movement. While the main shots are focused and clear, the true nature of the dial eludes – I think the dials are all too dark. As a buyer, I really want to hold the watch. If you cannot, then ask for additional photos.

The sale is huge, from my point of view, and so I will break it down into categories and you can click (on the text on the photos) through to a page that will go into details. I may add to these opinions over time.

Every watch has an extract of the archives from the museum. This is an often overlooked and undervalued asset in the collector community. More and more I am seeing values polarised between watches with extracts (or eligible for one) and those without (Or unable to get one).

This review must be read with the catalog.

Auction houses are easy targets for criticism, and I have often done it myself. In this overview I have deliberately refrained from being over critical of the organisation, and concentrated on the watches. If you look at it another way, Sotheby’s has pulled together a book of speedmasters in just a few months. They are not speedmaster nerds. There are going to be some things that we nerds will throw our hands up in horror at, but the wider world wont care. I have become more mellow. I just look at the lots, and ask do I like them, and are they worth the money. I take no joy pointing out others mistakes or ridiculing them. Instead, as I would rather see more Speedmaster auctions, I prefer to be encouraging and educational.

With any collection offered for sale, there will be the most desirable and the least desirable. After the sale there will be the best value for money and there will be the least value for money. The trick is to spot those last two before the sale!

This auction has a large selection, but lacks anything of very high quality – but then the prices are much (for the most part) more realistic and perhaps therefore more accessible. So when looking at this auction we have to be super aware of the attractiveness, because most have some condition issues. This is why I strongly recommend viewing in person, or at least asking for daylight photos.

In general the estimates are higher than some of the watches you might pick up at the Omega Forums sales section, and cheaper than many of the Speedmasters offered in retail Vintage Watch shops around various European cities. I must say some of those vintage watch shops know how to ask a price.

So in summary I think the estimates are higher than the hunters of Omega Forums will pay, but lower than many Vintage watch shops.

The 861’s

  • 2 x 145.022-69 with 220 bezels
  • 1 x 145.022-68
  • 4 x 145.022-69
  • 2 x BA145.022-69
  • 2 x 145.022-69 SW
  • 1 x 145.022-69 Apollo
  • 1 x 145.022-71
  • 1 x 145.022 Alaska

(Click on the green caption to go to details)

Here are the Asymmetric 321’s

  • 2 x 145.012-67
  • 6 x 105.012

And here are the Straight lugs:

  • 6 x 2915
  • 3 x 2998
  • 3 x 105.002
  • 5 x 105.003

The Sale catalog is here