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Collecting Vintage Omega Watches

Collecting Vintage Omega Watches Featured Articles

What to Look For, and What to Avoid

When buying vintage from any brand originality is key. You want a clean watch that has not been molested – refinished or replaced parts are anathema for vintage collectors. The biggest problem with Omegas, particularly dress models, is the prevalence of refinished dials. Some are quite true to the original design, others are sloppy, some are downright fraud (there is a trend lately for cheap dress models re-dialed to look like military models, or tarted up to look like a much more valuable Rachero or Railmaster). The only way to tell what is original and what is redone is through lots and lots of research. Some redials are very good and hard to spot without an expert eye. In general if it has an expected amount of patina it is likely legit, but if it is pristine its probably redone.

Box and papers is a great bonus, but doesn’t add a lot to the value (unlike Rolex or Patek). B&P is extremely rare with Omegas in general, and it’s not that hard for someone to get a set of blank papers to go with any watch – serial numbers weren’t recorded for the most part, and the standard warranty card was a generic slip that was filled in by the retailer at the time of purchase. The only exception is chronometer models, which were accompanied by a timing certificate when they were sold. So don’t pay a big premium for B&P, it’s not worth any more than 10% over market value.

Collecting Vintage Omega Watches Featured Articles

Original bracelets are a big plus; they are scarce and hard to find in good condition. Some popular bracelets (like the Speedmaster 1450) can fetch up to a thousand bucks on their own! Omega has been producing new replacement bracelets for older models for many years, so odds are that a “new old stock” bracelet is just a newer replacement item you could order from Omega at any authorized dealer. Case in point – the Speedmaster 1171/1 or the Seamaster 1380 shark mesh, which are constantly touted as a “NOS” vintage bracelet, but is in fact a new item that you can purchase from an AD. Don’t get suckered into paying big money for something that isn’t even vintage. And beware of fake bracelets – generally they have the wrong clasp codes, so doing a quick Google image search for the code will reveal if it is correct. The most common fake bracelet is marked 1286/249.

Serial numbers are always present on the movement but almost never on the outside of the case. The model number is usually engraved on the inside of the caseback along with metal hallmarks (though some national-production cases made in high-import-tariff countries may not have model numbers). You can find charts to date the movement to an approximate year on the Omega website. Papers are almost never marked with the serial (aside from chronometer certificates) because checking the number would require removing the caseback.

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Collecting Vintage Omega Watches Featured Articles

Original crystals are highly prized, and quite easy to identify. From the 1950s up to present, Omega always engraves a tiny Ω on the underside of their plastic crystals (but not their sapphire or mineral glass items). It can be found at the dead center of the crystal, above the pinion of the hands. Early versions up until the 90s were quite fine and are hard to see without a loupe; these have an old style logo, with a tall profile. Later crystals and modern service replacements have a much more prominent logo that can be seen with the naked eye and features a rounder, fatter design. It’s a quick way to see if the crystal is original, and if so whether it is vintage or a new replacement.

The hierarchy of value for vintage Omegas goes thusly: solid gold, steel, gold filled or gold capped, gold plated. Whereas other companies might command higher values for a steel watch, it’s almost always gold models that fetch a premium when buying Omegas. Up until the 80s Omega produced a lot of gold filled or gold plated models, these are generally not very desirable unless they are in pristine shape with no sign of the base metal showing through. The rarest Omegas of all are 18k or 14k white gold models – these were produced in very small numbers over the years and fetch top dollar when they pop up. A white gold model can be worth two to four times more than the same watch in yellow gold.

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Comments

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  • Greg S

    Fantastic article Jason, you really should consider writing that book! Cheers.

  • Kris C

    Very cool. I have a high appreciation for this brand, although I’m not of the ilk that goes nuts for it either. I know forum members that would step over their mothers to own a vintage Proplof, regarldess of the fact it has all the aesthetics of a punched onion. To each his own, I firmly believe.

    Great write up, this should be very useful to anyone currently in, or thinking about getting into vintage Omega watches.

  • fromagesfondus

    Great article! Truly passionate!

  • Eric S

    Thank you, Jason, for a highly informative and well-written article!

  • AnnaBonanno

    Hello Jason, I was wondering if you could help me find out about a family heirloom. Its an Omega Seamaster 18K gold watch&band. cant seem to find the information anywhere. havent had it opened yet. back of the watch is stamped 18K 790 and 0060. Back has Omega symbol & stamp (Omega Watch-O) & says “swiss made”. Back also has a stamp toward lower right corner; looks like an unclosed slanted rectangle, open on the left side & peaked on the lower right corner. Inside it appears to be “AG0” with “0” being a degree sign, although hard to see. Additional engraving looks like large circle & smaller circle over bottom of it. The face is white mother of pearl with gold 3D numbers & hands. There’s a small hand below them with two intersecting lines. I’m not sure if that is a chronograph or not. The face says Omega Seamaster & has the Omega 3D gold symbol above it. One dial on side of the watch. Under base of hands on face are letters but they’re hard to see; look like they start with “HHN…” or “HNN….” The band&buckle are 18K 790 but has “Arbiter” engraved where it attaches to the watch. I’m writing to you because you’re the first person Ive found that truly knows vintage Omega watches. The watch was passed down by a great uncle that grew up in Naples Italy and moved later in life to Argentina. Any help would be appreciated.

  • TylerSelph

    Talk about a rare Omega watch. I think I just saw one on eBay? Vintage Omega 91 diamond ladies watch. Never even seen one before. Can anyone help me identify this watch? Circa?  Was this watch mass produced, limited edition, custom made? What might it be worth? The seller doesn’t know much about it. Thanks for your help…
    Tyler

  • kellyrogers0521

    Wow! These pieces are great. I hope you could also make an article regarding <a href=”http://www.kalmarantiques.com.au/Catalogue/Watches/Omega-watches.aspx”>vintage ladies Omega watches</a>. Wishful thinking.

  • Raslim

    May I know where I can have my 1952 hand wound Seamaster assessed it’s value?

  • JamesHoyt

    I have two Omega watchs I purchased in 1968 &69, A Seamaster 300 (purchased at the Naval base in Rota Spain while stationed there)for $189The second was purchased on Feb 1969 , a Speedmaster Professional MarkII, (from the USS Forestals CVA59 ships store) for $250 (one months pay). I think I made a good investment.

  • TypeArt

    My mother gave me my father’s Omega watch which she says he purchased in Switzerland around 1945 as a GI in WWII. I can’t find any information regarding it such as it’s rarity or value. I brought it to a watch expert and repairman who took off the back and said it has 24 jewels, movement 565 and serial no. 27515976. It’s square but is not gold. Would anybody have any information that would be helpful to me?

  • I have an omega antique gold watch, swiss made,winding,running condition and never have been opened. Engraved at the back: To my friend and colleague ALBERT DE SOUZA from Shell Staff Br Borneo. (1917-1957).
    This watch has no exact similarity to the antique omega watches. If you want to see the pictures of this watch, I would post it to you.

  • hassanh

    Hai I have an Omega vintage watch with inscriptions at the back — www and Y17348 and also 10681547.
    The watch has stopped working due to over winding.
    Can anyone let me know how much it is worth or how old it may be.

  • mariam2015

    Can anyone tell me what year was this Omega watch made? Thank you.

  • frustin

    mariam2015 looks to be art deco in style, which would be 1920’s.

  • mariam2015

    frustin

    Thank you. I’ve been browsing the net for a similar style but can’t find one.  

    This is dad’s gift to mum decades ago.

  • howie1229

    Can anyone tell me the model, year and material of this watch, and what it might be worth – or how I can obtain any of the foregoing information?

  • KnightWatchman

    TypeArt You have one of the best, no nonsense Omega In- House movements of all time. I wonder if it is that old, because those movements were really popular in the 1960’s. You can look up the serial numbers for Omega on the net, and it should tell you the year of the watch. Post a pic on an Omega site, and they may be able to tell you about your Omega. That 565 movement, if serviced by a competent watchmaker, will outlive you, your Son, and maybe your Grandson. What a great way to remember your very smart Dad by, because he knew enough to buy a very high quality Swiss watch.

  • henry Lam

    Can anyone tell me about this watch–year made, materials, model, absence of star, and what it might be worth. I’ve search the internet and can’t seem to find the information.
    Thanks

  • Steve Brown

    I purchased this watch as a gift for my father, 20 years ago from an antique store. They claimed it was from the 1950’s and they had acquired it in an estate sale. I paid $800.

    I didn’t worry myself about whether it was worth the asking price because I really liked the watch and knew my father would too. Nothing fancy in terms of function, but elegant, understated, black dial and black (looks like alligator?) leather band with gold hands, in extremely fine condition. My father passed away before I could give it to him. I’ve had it in my drawer for 20 years, never wearing it.

    Last year I looked on Ebay, hoping to see a similar watch to get a value for it, but there was nothing there that quite matched. I brought it to a watch store/jeweler close to home hoping to have it identified – to confirm it’s age and so forth, by having the back removed and looking at the serial number. The jeweler said he wouldn’t take the back off, because it would necessarily scratch the watch. The black leather band, which looks like it was purchased yesterday, he said was original, which surprised me, because it looks in far too good of shape to be from the 1950’s. It is apparently in it’s original box, which also appears to be too perfect to be that old.

    So, without serial number, is there any way to identify the age and value of the watch? It sounds like Ebay is the go-to place for selling it as well? Thanks for any feedback.

  • Nagler Simmons

    Can anyone tell me about this omega watch?

  • Marie Markert

    I cannot find a watch like it. I have a 1950s, 18 k gold omega seamasters, 24 jeweled, would like some info. it belonged to my grandfather, we have pictures of him wearing it from the 1950s. it is a windup black faced Incabloc

  • Ivan Dimitrov

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