The current interest in vintage watches has made price indexes get to the highest level, with the collectors pool rapidly increasing, while the mass of the real important timepieces shrinking, being vaulted by the day. But even a decade ago, it was clear that vintage was no longer (widely accepted as) cheap.
Which basically means that even at the journey’s beginning, to reduce handicap, one has to polish up tastes and challenge the conventional thinking in order to get to the next important pick.
In transition to your watch theme, there will always be a good or bad buy, a new friend, a great disappointment, a broken piece, a watchmaker, a change of mind, a broker, and many other great stories. Either way, collecting should always remain a joyful hobby instead of a heavy burden.
The Market Report article series will not stand for appraisal but will give a good overview, just like any other after sale resource, what watches are made of, what are their price range and their shifts.
To accommodate reader with the results, I will refrain from personal estimations in the after sales report verbiage.
With this in mind, when commenting timepieces, it will always come down to the best character specimens market could offer, and not necessarily their figures, as no sales are identical in all respects, but results can determine the next.
With top brands dominating the current market, and little knowledge, it would be as near as impossible to start a collection with an early Rolex Brancard or an Omega Seamaster CK 2913, as there will always be someone else to beat you to the game, but the good news is, there are plenty of underrated and overlooked pieces, ready to change in a good climate, just fine to start with.
Today, I propose 6 Omega pocket watch lots to dissect:
Interesting watches usually climb up in prices, even when obscurely presented. It is also the case for Omega Goliath size pocket watches, or “Giant”, as described in literature.
The early Omega Giant calibers 27″ and 30″ were released at the same time and were fitted in different casings, having various applications. The 8 days Omega Goliath was also delivered as a Railroad watch, making it the first Omega reference watch.
Although the 27″ was one of the two earliest calibers to be delivered with 17 jewels quality, it was usually for the 30″ caliber to be fitted in the largest cases. These were delivered predominantly in two sizes, with the smallest at nearly 78/80 mm, while the larger at some 104/105 mm.
I will resume saying there are few exceptions, but the Goliath and it’s existence certainly merits wider discussion and greater attention, thus will remain a reference for future articles.
This lot is for one Omega Goliath in a larger 104 mm case, ref. MA 131 30/40. The watch shows a beautiful patina, with all the dirt, scratches and marks on sight, evidence it has never been touched up. These small but significant details are always preferred by the collectors.
Case shows matching numbers, sharp edges, sturdy pendant bow, uncleaned crown an copper bezel frame holding the crystal, original dial, handset and of course, movement.
For the down sides, I would include the hairlines on the enamel dial and the deep scratches on the movement cover.
Movement is a cal. 30″, also known as the 30/40″‘ 8 DL, considering the size, in production since 1894, and looks pretty clean, with steel polished parts showing minor signs of oxidation. Screw heads do not look terribly messed up with. Just by general aspect, I would say the watch did not have a bad life.
With new replacement parts impossible to find, and a Bienne restoration price not at hand, I would always look for a working timepiece and most importantly, a clean condition movement. This does not save one from hidden defects, but there is a greater chance to find one salvageable.
As a golden rule, always look for the seller’s return policy.
Same watch, better dial, better hands, cleaner case and movement. The bonus is the watch was offered with a lovely leather etui with a silver front cover, but in rather poor condition. As case hallmarks tell, most like the watch was too a UK delivery, regardless the sale location.
Curious about the screw case marks, although the movement fixing screws are in a different position. I am sure, however, this is not a re-cased specimen, dial and hands show same specs with the one before, the pin set is in the same position and the serial is in the same low 1 Mill. range.
This lot sold just 10 days before the first lot. Although this one was located in the United States and the other one in the United Kingdom, the auction results tell a lot about the interest on the larger Goliath specimens, no matter which side of the pond these surface from.
This is the smallest 80mm Omega Goliath size, ref. MA 547 30, showing the MM & Co. electrified patent on dial, fitted with an original period leather caring case. Dial, hands and movement look very clean, however the back case shows oxidation and wear. One would say significant enough to influence the price but I would rather point in the little exposure direction. A steal at that price.
The reason I have included this one in the Report, is because it marks a reference. Look what happens when a sale gets the correct amount of exposure.
The vendor had the caring case restored with a very nice result, while the watch itself, besides having a new bulb, remains original. The dial shows the MM & Co. patent # 10292, the London retailer and an interesting “T.H.M. the King” mark, but without any excerpt of provenance.
Enough for collectors to hover around though. Needless to say, this is the smallest Goliath of it’s kind. Powered by a 27″ Caliber and entrapped in the smallest 69 mm nickel case, ref. MA 120 27, in conjunction with it’s nicely decorated caring case, dial markings and working bulb after re-working electrics, it managed to raise audience and command a nice premium, considering how underrated these pieces are at the moment.
This early and very fine 1920’s Omega cal. 39.1-17 jewels with a star regulator went completely off radar. It comes in a Wadsworth gold filled case, making the watch a US export, but just for the dial alone, this is an interesting buy any given day.
The literature shows a total production of 9000 units for the Lépine version of the 39.1 caliber, between 1922 and 1930, which does not make it extremely rare, but it is already harder to find. The counter performance of the 5-day auction, is yet another example of when little exposure is ravaging.
This is a real character watch, and a personal favorite. It may not tell much but it actually marked a premiere in the Omega pocket watch history. Equipped with a 38.5 caliber (in production for more then 30 years, and considered a huge success with a total production of almost 1 Mill. units in all grades, both Lépine and Savonnette), this was the first Omega pocket watch to feature a waterproof (hermetic) case, using a plastic resin gasket. The AJTT / page 99, describes it: “A model for colonials, miners, railways employees, etc. […] Resistant to water, dust and humidity. Insensible to temperature variations.” Referenced as CK 1064, this model was first introduced in 1937, but the early specimens had only the serial # stamped on the back case. It was only in the early 1940’s when the 1064 model # replaced the serial.
It’s no wonder why it disappeared so fast. A real bargain.
Although price discrepancy may confuse you more then offering a clear tendency, if you wish to start somewhere and treat yourself, finding vintage Omega timepieces is still affordable. It becomes obvious though that proper description and good quality pictures attract more enthusiasts and fetch premiums compared to their poorly represented counterparts.
If you are in the market for a nice vintage watch, pocket watches could offer as much collecting comfort as any next best watch. There is still less risk and great opportunities for all budgets. In spite any market price increment, pocket watches or early wristwatches are overshadowed and still miles away from the dramatic shifts observed in the latest Speedmasters results, or traditionally by now, Cosmographs.