Market report – May 2017
May 26, 2017
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Here we are, a year after the last market report entry. Although it looks like you’ve seen it before, the market did change in some unexpected ways. After an intensive appreciation with requests and sales results breaking record after record – some still are -, we now face not a dramatic drop but for sure a deceleration, and possible a even greater separation between the mainstream and the under the radar pieces. Since the best of the best have been tactfully hidden from the open market and recently showed up only in the fancy ballrooms, there has been a shy rise of the less known but equally good timepieces. Mostly because these became the next in line best available material. Even in such conditions, only a few have registered a significant increase, while the rest have returned to oblivion, waiting to be rediscovered at a later time. What I see now, more then ever, is the strong separation between the mainstream and everything else, with really not a solid mid range in between. Maybe the best thing out of all, the pocket watch market hasn’t changed much, with the amendment that the selection seems to be even better, where top shelf pieces don’t get to last long in the trade. Either a change in collection habits, a surplus flush, or a hesitation in terms of investment, it is hard to correctly asses the latest events, but one thing is certain, watches still remain the best attraction, close after art.

Today, I propose a set of 10 Omega pocket watch lots to dissect. If you ever wonder, I will continue referring to eBay when offering sales results due to the more domestic provenance and arguably the best exposure and price relevance in the online auction environment:

Photo credit to eBay listings.

LOT 1: OMEGA CHRONOMETRE 1920 18K SOLID GOLD pocket watch; Price realized – €1,020.00

This 1922/3 Omega 39.1 art deco pocket watch set quite a standard in its class. Although “Chronometer” is seller’s choice, everything else looks decent. The two tone dial is not pristine but not too bad either. The trefoil hands are somewhat rare to find while the pencil sub is splendid and one of my best favorite when it comes to hands set preference. The movement looks clean and matches the watch overall condition. The art deco adorned case is not tip top and has been cleaned up a bit but the art deco cases fitted with 35 to 39 caliber families are so very rarely seen in excellent condition.  If we look back at the Lot 5 of Market report 2016 article, this can be regarded as exactly the opposite of a bad sale. And the vendor takes credit for the outcome.
Note that this watch futures a cal. 39.1 with a serial in the 5.9 Mil range, which is one of the very early 39.1 calibers available to the market, since its release in 1922.

LOT 2: Rare Antique Omega Salesman Sample Giant Pocket Watch 1920’s Superb Original NR; Price realized – US $2,136.99http://imagizer.imageshack.us/a/img924/2532/uc3J8c.jpg

This lot is for the Omega Super Goliath in the largest ~140 mm case, ref. MA 131 27/60 VV, dated to ca. 1920. Everything went north regarding this sale in spite the fact that the vendor didn’t realized what this really was. I find it in exquisite condition. These watches are so big and uneasy to handle or to display that maybe only a fraction have survived in such condition after a century of existence.
By various standards, the Super Goliath could be considered a Grail in the entire Omega production and not just in the Omega Goliath span, and is absolutely the center piece of this article.
Although imposing at some 140 mm and nearly 1 kilo, this watch has a bit of everything when it comes appeal. A pristine oversized enamel dial signed Omega, a gorgeous set of blued hands, the original gothic subsidiary seconds hand, a superb nickel giant French style case in untouched condition or a late 17 jewel 27/60″‘ 8 Day caliber. And the icing on the cake is that whimsical and patina radiating artisanal brass hanging stand.
Ever since I’ve learned about their existence, it became obvious these are not to be missed. The 27″ Super Giant coexists with both the 30″ and the 59.8 calibers, which makes the quest for the complete set, almost like conquering Everest.
What makes this watch so special and rare is the Omega dial signature when most come unlabeled, the gothic subsidiary seconds where most had the seconds hand replaced, the very rare 27/60″‘ crown set movement which, in this case, is slightly different then the 27″‘ standard version, and the 5.9 Mil serial Omega labeled movement.
Among the Omega Goliath class specimens I’ve studied and had access to, I’ve come to realize, the Omega label only appears on a such a small batch that one starts to question their existence. Under current market circumstances, this was undoubtedly a bargain.

LOT 3: OMEGA GOLIATH POCKET WATCH Drew&Sons, Piccadilly Circus, London; Price realized – £276.00http://imagizer.imageshack.us/a/img922/8947/2u036q.jpg

This under 80mm Omega Goliath size, ref. MA 547 30, seem to have stabilized at £250-300 mark, either with caring case or without. There is not much to comment on the condition, other then a great starter, all being in place. I love private label or double or triple signature watches, but the non labeled one seem to get as much attention, when the condition is good.
Minor growth maybe, within a 12 month time, but significant for the underrated Omega Goliath class, at least when compared to the recent vintage wristwatch market hallucinating auction results.

LOT 4: Omega 14K Solid Gold Cal 38M.S. Ornate Hunting Case Art Deco Pocket Watch 51mm; Price realized – US $1,375.00http://imagizer.imageshack.us/a/img924/895/NLOg1B.jpg

Now this is a rare Omega art deco pocket watch that we don’t happen to see every day. Sure, its not a top class condition watch, the case has a nice décor, the champagne Breguet dial is not immaculate and the hands are impaired while the seconds hand looks like a replacement, but it features the 38 M.S. movement. Or otherwise an extra flat 17″ lig. caliber, where M is the abbreviation of Mince in French, which means Flat, while S stands for Savonnette or Hunter, and is the bigger relative of the 35 M extra flat caliber. Out of the two, only the 38 M offers the Hunter version.
According to the Nomenclature, for the 38M caliber, only 3.600 pieces were executed, both in Lépine and Savonnette version, which may have lead to some competition, regardless the shortcomings.
If memory doesn’t fail me, the 35/38M calibers have been next to none discussed in the watch world community and would worth greater attention. This is for a couple reasons. First of, these two calibers were entirely delivered from Geneva and not Bienne. Second, because they remind me of at least two other similar calibers, both of 16″ lig., one usually signed A. Lecoultre and the other, Zodiac Triumph. I guess it should not be a real surprise to find other manufacturers employing the same movement style, but a comparison between these calibers should be in order.
There is another matter with this lot, that is worth general attention. The vendor makes reference to the Lot 39 of Antiquorum’s 2007 OmegaMania thematic sale, in an effort to boost the interest, but fails to mention the Lot 45, the Ras Tafari specimen.
The Lot 39 is for a splendid Omega art deco pocket watch, with a geometric design case, also in 14Kt and with a similar dial and hands layout. However, it futures the more familiar cal. 40.6S T2 17P (76), whom along with the rest of the 40.6S family (70, 72, 74 and 76), have been executed in excess of 54.000 units.
Lot 45 is tricky and would need further clarification, as, if I’m not wrong, this never went into public discussion.
The OmegaMania catalog refers to the Ras Tafari specimen, delivered in 1929, as part of a set ordered to commemorate the  coronation as Emperor, as being powered by the Cal. 34 M.S., however there is no such caliber mentioned in the Nomenclature.  Since there is no available movement picture around with the Haile Selassie portrayed watch, and since the 35 M caliber never featured a Savonnette version, I could only guess this is actually a 38 M.S. pocket watch. Unless the 34 M.S. is a movement unheard of.
Eventually the watch sold for little over 40.000 CHF. According to the same catalog (p.112), in a footnote, Omega Museum is attached to the provenance of this time piece.
I was not able to determine if the same or a similar watch, can be observed in the Omega Museum, Case 96, but it worth checking for clarification to the movement matter.

LOT 5: OMEGA Edelstahl-Taschenuhr (Beobachtungsuhr), stainless steel pocket watch, TOP; Price realized – €459.00http://imagizer.imageshack.us/a/img922/5061/jDFnCp.jpg

A familiar face, these early Waterproof Omega CK 1064 seem to have gained some respect in the last 12 months, no matter the condition. The one featured in this article has the radium dial and hands which may have suffered either from the luminous material either from moisture, offering in turn the rugged look, if its not a washed dial. I love the big minute track dial version but I prefer more the non luminous version, with the blued Gothic hands, as these are usually in much better condition. The black dial version is a hard to get Queen among the rest of its kind for this reference. I still look at these as underrated pieces, but this may be the other reason they get vaulted so fast, so the value index may only roll up.

LOT 6: Vintage Omega Turler Open Face 46mm 18K Yellow Gold Pocket Watch; Price realized – US $650.00http://imagizer.imageshack.us/a/img924/1725/Dpyjap.jpg

Believe it or not, this outstanding Omega Türler slim pocket watch, referenced OT 1145 closed at a ridiculous $650.
A glance only at the opaline dial and it blows away the quality and craft involved in making such a time piece. The furnitures used for this watch are of the best quality, although this is not the 37.5L T1 AM 17P bull (143) but the 142 version. Some of the 142 calibers were delivered with Chronometer certificates and this could well be one of those cases. The solid gold baton hands and thin gold seconds hand with steel tube, along with the opaline dial fitted with gold indexes and raised gold Omega logo, in terms of artistry, is nothing less then the same era Patek Philippe or Vacheron & Constantin counterparts.
Movement is brilliantly preserved, while the case show moderate sign of wear. This is the classic example of irony. Instead of being coveted by the most Omega pocket watch aficionados, it remained underappreciated. What a gem!

LOT 7: 97 YEARS OLD OMEGA 21j CHRONOMETRE STAINLESS STEEL OPEN FACE 18s POCKET WATCH; Price realized – US $585.00http://imagizer.imageshack.us/a/img922/2156/ecarzL.jpg

Oh dear! If there is one Lot that could represent a serious candidate to the Omega Super Goliath, then this is it. What a joy and winning lottery ticket for the new owner.
This is no other but the famous 47.7 NN L bull, delivered as a pocket watch.  The sale happened so fast that most didn’t even realize its presence, but the Omega 21J and Chronometre de Bord turned all buttons red on every online device at that time.
According to serial, this is part of the 300 units batch, executed between 1919-1920. And to add more salt on the wound, this is the stainless steel version, referenced CK 111.
This insane movement, usually seen in deck chronometer gimbal cases is absolutely top of the class and the reason Omega was put into the Chronometer Hall of Fame. You can read up the entire story in a future article.

LOT 8: Omega Constellation Frackuhr 750er 18k Weiß Gold um 1967 – 68 Cal 700; Price realized – €1,004.00http://imagizer.imageshack.us/a/img924/1926/Wy2fF2.jpg

Exactly. Omega Constellation pocket watch. Actually pendant, but could fit the pocket genre too. Constellation for the Omega purists does not rhyme with pocket watches. However, I have hardly see these around, and although it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it is worth some exposure.
This 18Kt white gold Constellation, referenced 1719, is interesting from various perspectives. First, I have to admit, I am a sucker for factory original hybrids between pocket watch movements and wrist watch cases or wrist watch movements and pocket watch cases, or whatever else out of the ordinary. Look at how tiny the movement seems compared to what looks like an oversized dial and case, but the case is only 44mm across, which could well be a petite watch on a beefy wrist nowadays. Then, if I were to enumerate what else is attractive to this watch, well, everything, from the Flying saucer style case, the crown at 6 and pendant at 12, to the ultra slim Omega cal. 700 movement, a camouflaged Frederic Piguet 21 of only 1.75 mm. IMHO, all Constellations of this kind have a beautiful case décor and would worth their place in a serious Omega pocket watch collection.
A side note: Frederic Piguet 21 movements can be observed in probably a hundred different brands, from little known or highly esteemed, from Lovary to Rolex or Patek Philippe, most with different internal caliber designation. However, Omega is maybe the sole beneficiary of a different movement bridge layout. If Frederic Piguet is now associated to Blancpain and some of their pieces included the standard FP 21 layout, over the years, I have observed a very small batch of Blancpain signature FP 21 movements with the Omega 700 layout. Since all these movements had the copper or yellow gold finish specific to the Bienne factory, I suspect these came either from Omega or were part of a remaining stock order for Omega, repurposed. Either way, a rare phenomena.

LOT 9: Vintage Omega chronograph pocket watch; Price realized – £283.00http://imagizer.imageshack.us/a/img922/1990/MDbyy8.jpg

If you could mind the bad picture… When I first looked at this watch, I thought to myself that something doesn’t add up or this is an oddity I haven’t seen before.
Well, one thing is for sure. It is an oddity, but not one for the purists. What blows away the hole thing is the mismatch between dial and case style. This Omega Chronograph featuring the early cal. 19″ LOB CHRO started its life at around 1899-1900, and was probably retailed to the British market or the colonies, considering the English style round bow, the spherical red gilt push button crown and the balance cock marks. By the turn of the century, British market pocket watch dials still had a very conservative look, so I imagine this was originally fitted with one of the classic Arabic 60 minutes division of fifth, the red Miles per hour Tachy scale or the 300 Pulsation scale, plain white dials.
On the other hand, this one features quite a colorful dial, that is usually referred to as ChronoTachymetre. Please not the dial mention “Cadran Breveté S.G.D.G.” which is the abbreviation of “Sans garantie du gouvernement” or in translation “Without government guarantee”, under the French law, since 1844. While I haven’t seen similar dials without the Cadran Breveté S.G.D.G. mention, it means they were assigned for the French market and colonies only. However, if an Archive Extract produces evidence for even one Omega chronograph with the Cadran Breveté S.G.D.G. mention delivered anywhere else – other then France, it would mean all these scientific dials were mass labeled and then encased at a later date, prior to knowing the delivery agent.
I say “scientific dials” as no man made machinery would have been capable of the speeds indulgently represented on the dial, and the aviation was in its infancy, back then.
But how incorrect is this watch exactly ? A gun metal Omega chronograph with a British style case is rare by any standards, so yes, its worth the effort to delve into this cave for study. Just by looking at the movement, we can tell this is indeed the 15 minute chrono version. If we then carefully inspect the minute recording jumper, we can observe it is the first execution style (or the first generation minute recording jumper), against this Fine “Chronotachymetre” OMEGA “Cadran breveté S.G.D.G.” chronograph so chances are, the movement is indeed the pair of this case.  What I cannot tell though is if this started life as a double register chronograph or otherwise, if the original fitted dial had the subsidiary seconds, as the gambler’s piece presented above. I have seen variation of both so it is hard to tell without an Extract, unless compared to another Omega chronograph with a close range serial, possibly delivered in the same batch. So the new fitted dial came after some research by a previous owner. What also didn’t go as planned for the previous owner was the looks of the dial under that beefy bezel frame and was without doubt substituted from a French-style version. The dial doesn’t pair with the hands either, although both are original Omega Chronograph furnitures. Look how long the minute hand is, when it should stop just under the black minute track.
My instinct tells me this is a dial short only original watch. I imagine for this minor details collectors moved their attention elsewhere although the lot fetched considerably less then the sum of parts, and one should not be surprised to see it in the market again, possibly with a new face.

LOT 10: BRANDT-OMEGA Swiss Pocket Watch~Railroad Quality 23J!~Grade CCCR, runs! WOW!; Price realized – US $898.00http://imagizer.imageshack.us/a/img924/1372/jPhk07.jpg

No breaking news here, sorry! Just that sometimes, little reflection is in need. From the sublime to the ridiculous, there is but one step. Or otherwise, from the heights of Phillip’s, Christie’s, Sotheby’s or Antiquorum to the abyss of eBay, there are lots of short circuits and interruptions. And the Lot 10 is the perfect example.
With a total of 700 units of the 19″‘ lig. and 740 units of the 20″‘ lig. in both Savonnette and Lépine version, the Omega CCCR Official Chronometers, other then the DDR and the Verybest, it is almost impossible to find something more important or of a better quality in the long line of the Omega pocket watch production. I simply do not know one genuine Omega pocket watch collector who would not pick these …repeatedly!

The major stay away barrier in my mind for these otherwise exceptional timepieces are the American made cases.
Routinely, I see more case transplants and transformations to the vintage American pocket watches than to any of their European counterparts, and the Omega pocket watch movements fitted once with US / Canadian made cases make no exception.
However this beauty has convinced me right from the start, and if I would force myself into a dislike argument, I would have a hard time finding defects.
So very infrequently, you see such movements entrapped into Omega signature cases, usually in gold, but the “De Luxe” specimens have been long hidden from the public eye.

If one wonders, it is not unusual finding Brandt-Omega Hunter CCCR Chronometers in Lépine style cases. And my guess is, this one here may have started life in this case. The case has the right amount of wear and tear, the right pedigree, being a gold filled Banner Canadian made case, of P.W. Ellis, no other then the Omega official agent in Canada. Of course, one may argue Ellis produced cases for a wide range of manufacturers, but the main problem with these transplants is that they all leave marks, and while I look at this case, I see no extra set of case fixing screw marks. I have no doubt, an Extract would confirm this watch has been delivered to Canada.
The general condition, the quality and the importance, and then it fetched only $898. Isn’t that sublime ?
Not too long ago, only in 2007, I remember the Lot 104 of the same Antiquorum’s Omega thematic sale, a nickel silver case Omega CCR # 3.502.582 which fetched little over 5.000 CHF. And ever since, many other Omega Official Chronometers taking the mainstream path, have changed hands for prices hard to imagine. And then the same material, sold for change money in the lower décor. And isn’t that ridiculous ?

Since there is an outrageous hull in results between these two different commerce platform styles (Christie’s, Sotheby’s, Antiquorum, etc. on one side and eBay, Catawiki and the rest on the other side), one will find is hard to agree on an average valuation, no matter the reference or the condition. It so very rarely happens a similar result is reached among these platforms. Factor in whatever you wish, from buyer’s premium to selling fees, from forum talks to watch fairs, from reputable to scrupulous vendors, usually the versed collector knows it already and does not ignore any important event, no matter where it happens. With this in mind, a Price Chart may be a very interesting and handy tool, for either the newcomer or for the well established collector or dealer, but what I consider probably more relevant is a recollection of sales results of different platforms for similar lots, to observe how the index market performs. I have no doubt such a competitive market has the ability to regulate itself, but to seize the moment of the rise and fall, could be a very efficient way to understand the upward and downward spirals of the vintage watch trade.


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