Generally speaking, we would say when a watch sells for an eyebrow-raising sum of money, the assertion is made – the words vary but the basic substance is the same – that it’s “ruining the hobby.” The latest example was the “barn find” Speedmaster we covered earlier this month, but there are also some other examples. It seems to mostly have passed unnoticed that in the same Phillips auction in which the PNPND set its record, I’m not sure that this isn’t at least as insane as paying $17 million for the PNPND, assuming you think this sort of thing is crazy in the first place.
So now, is this bad for watch collecting? Prices for both new and vintage fake watches of top quality, and from blue-chip names like the replica Rolex and Patek Philippe, seem on an endless upward trend. Even ten or fifteen years ago, good vintage watches weren’t exactly cheap, but the huge sums of money flowing into vintage watch collecting have, it’s true, changed the game. When I first got interested in watches, the watch magazines, such as they were, were on newsstands along with the model railroading, doll collecting, and stamp collecting magazines. Things have obviously changed greatly after that.
The general unbelievable increase in the auction prices – and not just records, but auction prices in general – for the most collectible models are indeed bad if you’re not a wealthy individual, and what were affordable collectibles ten years ago, have become unachievable for many of us. (Of course, if you’re selling those models and got them ten to twenty years ago, it’s the best thing that ever happened to fake Rolex collecting.) I don’t know that it’s necessarily good or bad in any absolute sense, but it has fundamentally changed the nature of watch collecting, and what was once a somewhat quirky, slightly inexplicable, occasionally expensive but basically low-visibility hobby has become, to some extent, a high-stakes media circus.
The other question – is it worth it? There are two answers anyway. The first of course is “no.” The price paid for the PNPND is indefensible by any sensible measure; it is out of any plausible – never mind logical – relationship to either the design intelligence behind, or quality of craft of, or ingenuity contained within, the PNPND or any other Daytona. The second answer, however, is “yes” and that is because, by definition, the worth of something is what someone would like to purchase it – or in this case, and more relevantly, for not just the object, but what it stands for. We’ve already talked about what the PNPND and Daytonas in general, represent beyond the basic physical and design features, of the replica watches – the PNPND especially is valuable largely not for what it is, but for what it symbolizes.
Now comes the October, and you know what that stands for: fall foliage, sweaters, pumpkin spice lattes, and auction catalogues. We’ve all been warmly taking part in this season’s auctions – partly because the “you-know-what” is coming up for auction, but also because it’s always nice to peruse the crisp pages of a freshly printed catalogue, and see what’s up. Some seasons are more exciting than others, and this fall’s selection has definitely exceeded expectations. Here are two examples of replica Rolex watches that I had literally never heard of before coming across them this week.
To begin with, we have the Phillips Watch Auction, Winning Icons, on Thursday, October 26th. This is the first Phillips watch auction to take place in New York, and the central lot is, you guessed it, Paul Newman’s Paul Newman. But there are 49 other lots left to chase – all special in their own way, but one that really sticks out is a two-tone Rolex
This two-tone 6265/3 was a custom piece made for Bruce J. Leven, a Seattle-based entrepreneur and gentleman racing legend, who became successful with his waste management company, Bayside Disposal. Leven was famous in the racing circles, and more than held his own as driver, competing at the top level. This, combined with his love of Porsches, soon translated into owning the Bayside Disposal Racing Team.
His wish was granted, and here it is: a possibly special two-tone 6265/3 with box, papers, service papers, and service sticker on the caseback. The 6265 was produced from 1971 to 1988, in yellow gold or stainless steel (with a couple of wild cards in between). It’s well-known for its steel or gold bezel, and for having screw-down pushers. The 6265 also has been known to feature the Paul Newman dial, though most of those have been put in 6263 cases at this point.
In Christie’s November sale we have yet another strange affair. OK, this one actually made me question my complete existence in this world of fake rolex watches, because it is something that I have genuinely never seen before. When I first laid eyes on it, I thought, “Wait, is that a Sub? Coming with a day window and on a President’s bracelet?”
This was another cool and totally surprising Rolex replica – a rare white gold Submariner. This crazy replica watch was sold at Christie’s earlier this year and while most of my colleagues recoiled at the sight of it, I fell head over heels for this unique Sub.
Hey, there’s something really interesting here. We have the second “found in a drawer” Omega replica to surpass the $100k mark in a little over a week. It sold at good prices through Live Auctioneers, which represented Flannery’s Estate Services in the digital auction.
There’s something excited about this, though. We noticed that bidding went quite affordable on this one, sans buyer’s premium, though now it seems to have reverted before the premium, giving us the final nice price. I have reached out to Flannery’s Estate Services multiple times to try to get more information here, and neither my email nor my phone calls have been returned. I will update this story if we learn any more.
The fake watch in question is a fake Omega Speedmaster, made between 1959 and 1962, which was the first Speedy to come exclusively with the black bezel that served as a major design turning point toward the Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch. Incidentally, though a special model may not have touched down on the lunar surface, as a matter of fact, it did go up into space, in 1962, on the wrist of Astronaut Wally Schirra. It was Schirra’s personal chronograph, not official issues.
Bidding started at just $250, with a funny estimate of $500 to $1,000. As you can see, the watch did not fly under the radar and the results were in a different ballpark.
The replica watch that sold last week was this guy over here, which broke the $275,000 mark at Bukowski’s Auction House in Sweden. That’s a record for the Ref. CK 2915-1 “Broad Arrow,” the first Speedmaster and a grail for Speedy lovers.
The real version of this model showed a price with a buyer’s premium of $110,700. We spoke yesterday to Marianne Flannery, of Flannery’s Estate Services, who told me that the actual price of this Speedmaster, including buyer’s premium, was $103,500. Because the winning bidder was in-room in at the physical sale in Upstate New York, she said, the actual buyer’s premium was 15%, not the 23% that is customarily charged to bidders using the online Live Auctioneers platform. She added that the bids escalated before premium due to “unverified” bidders who registered with Live Auctioneers during the sale itself.
There are two most prestigious sponsored sailing events of Rolex, which just wrapped up with some very skilled and happy yachtsmen walking away with priceless specially engraved award watches. The replica Rolex Big Boat Series in San Francisco and the fake Rolex New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup are two of the greatest sailing competitions on the annual calendar, and some of the sailors and yacht owners are already Rolex owners. But no matter how many Rolexes you might own there is still no higher honor than “winning the watch” in any sporting event, and sailing is sure to stuff.
The best Rolex chooses to award the stainless steel Submariners in these regattas, demonstrating the versatility and universal appeal of the ultimate sports watch. Different from these retail versions, these are particularly engraved and come in special green leather presentation boxes. While many yachtsmen decide to wear their award watches there are always some who lock them away for preservation. Very rarely do you see these pieces, which cannot be acquired by other means, come up for sale.
At the Rolex Big Boat Series, Rolex awarded six Submariners to winners of the so-called perpetual trophies, the top yachtsmen in their class. This was the 53rd running of the prestigious race, which is hosted by the St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco Bay. The series is comprised of seven races taking place over four days, with winners anointed in eleven different classes. This year 89 magnificent yachts were competing for the awards. The ultra-prestigious perpetual trophies are kept at the St. Francis Yacht Club and are very much impressive than the kind you get to take home. Coupled with the fact that the winners receive Rolexes, their names are engraved on the trophies for all to admire. One of these is the City of San Francisco Trophy, which is actually a gold-plated shovel used to break ground on the Golden Gate Bridge in 1933, and it’s understandably one of the most coveted trophies in sailing. This year the Pac 52 yacht Beau Geste took the prize.
The Rolex replica New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup is one of the most gentlemanly events you’ll ever see in Newport. The New York Yacht Club in of course one of the most special clubs in the world, and races are hard-fought in Narragansett Bay. This year the Southern Yacht Club in New Orleans, founded in 1849, came up to beat the Northerners on their home sea. Defeating their closest competitors, the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron from Australia, along with 12 other yacht clubs from around the World, SYC effusively claimed the trophy and the prize replica watches in what has been called the “ultimate one-design, big-boat competition.”
Panerai Watches are always working so hard while making preparations for the sale of Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona and other amazing pieces in its New York “Winning Icons” sale next month. The auction house, which is quickly becoming a contender for the title of top collector watch auctioneer, has another collection of impressive replica watches slated to cross the block.
While the exquisite Patek Philippes are bound to get most of the attention, what caught our eye was a duo of ultra-rare fake Panerai models from the ’40s and ’50s that are some of the most historic and great Panerais ever sold. The estimates look low on these beauties, so if it’s an indication that the market for antique Panerais is softening, we’d say it won’t last and savvy Panerai collectors should get busy with the auction paddle – not least because it may be years before watches like these become available again.
The big draw is a replica Panerai Luminor manufactured circa 1955. Different from the newest releases of the fake Panerai collection these historical watches are connected to one giant Swiss watchmaker. Like all Panerais from this early era, it features a movement and case by Rolex. And this example is crucially important because it was formerly owned by Admiral Gino Birindelli, a true hero of the Italian Royal Navy, which originally commissioned the Luminor for its elite Decima MAS underwater commandos. Admiral Birindelli was a commander of the Decima MAS during World War II, was later made chief of the fleet of the Italian Navy, and received the Gold medal of military valor among other distinctions. He himself rode the famous manned torpedoes that did such damage to the British Navy during the war.
Nearly as important and appealing is an even older Panerai, this stainless steel Radiomir-style model is known as a “Type C” and features longer fixed lugs, and an inside case back signed Rolex S.A., along with the reference number and serial number. There are only 211 known examples of the model. There has been some evidence advising Panerai did deliberately this so that any commandos captured by the enemy would not have their origin betrayed by their wristwatch. We have to mention it again that this fake has an extremely interesting provenance, and was formerly owned by combat swimmer Helmut Rösel, who was awarded the German Federal Cross of Merit. The multimillion-dollar Pateks may be more valuable but there’s nothing cooler than this pair of Panerais.
As we all know that American swimming legend Michael Phelps is a very outstanding athlete. But did you know that he is actually the most decorated Olympian of all time? Phelps has captured a total of 28 Olympic medals in his illustrious career, 23, of which, are gold. An achievement that apparently deserves a special edition Omega has been made there. The famous Swiss watch brand has it covered in the form of the new Seamaster Planet Ocean “Michael Phelps”.
The new ocean blue timepiece is very natty looking with bright orange highlights and suits Phelps’ style to a tee – sporty and cool. The 45.5 mm steel-cased watch characterized a special ceramic and rubber uni-directional bezel. Polished blue-tinted ceramic lends into bright orange rubber for the first 15 minutes, crucial in timing Olympic events. The Planet Ocean collection of Seamsters is Omega’s most sports-minded replica watches.
The Planet Ocean is designed for divers, and the diving scale, as well as the dot at 12 o’clock, is finished with Super-LumiNova which presents with a slight greenish glow, while the lume on the minute scale is calibrated to glow blue to counteract confusion underwater. The dial is finished in white ceramic with blued indexes and an Arabic numeral 12 in orange, complimenting the bezel. Hour, seconds and counter hands are also blued and feature a blue treatment to match the indexes, while the minute hands are tinted green aligning with the dot at 12 o’clock. The casebook features a wave pattern and is engraved with “PLANET OCEAN”, “600 m / 2000 ft”, “LIMITED EDITION” and the serial number as well as a “Michael Phelps” logo surrounding the sapphire crystal exhibition window. This allows a look at the replica Omega Co-Axial Master Chronometer Calibre 9900, one of the watchmaker’s most beautiful and significant movements, designed and produced in-house.
The particular timepiece, which features a helium escape valve, comes on a blue rubber strap with a blue and orange lining and orange contrast stitching. The domed scratch-resistant sapphire crystal features an anti-reflective treatment on both sides. The Seamaster Planet Ocean “Michael Phelps” edition comes with only 280 pieces, honoring Phelps’ lifetime medal count. Omega calls him “the greatest athlete in the history of aquatic sport” and we’d have to agree. Phelps has been a “friend” of the fake Omega since 2004, is a longtime Seamaster wearer, and has been the guest of honor at several Omega events. Not quite a brand ambassador but the association is definitely highly beneficial for Omega, to say the least. So we’d think that special among some limited edition tribute watches this is one that the honoree will surely wear and use.
The replica Rolex GMT-Master was made particularly for Pan-Am Airlines after the company applied a reliable watch that was capable of displaying multiple time zones at the same time – for use on transatlantic flights. By adding a 24-hour hand and a rotating bezel with 24-hour markings, pilots could quickly reference another time zone by simply switching the bezel and using the 24-hour hand as an indicator.
The fake Rolex released an update to their GMT-Master line with the new model in 1959. In addition to a new movement and a slightly re-designed dial, the most obvious difference was the addition of crown guards to the case of the fake watch. Initially, the watch had a case with pointed crown guards; however, around the mid-1960s, Rolex fake watch changed the design to the more traditional crown guard shape that can be found on later renditions of the GMT-Master and GMT-Master II lines of replica watches.
Early examples of the watches were fitted with gloss dials, small 24-hour hands, and Rolex’s Caliber 1565 movement, while later examples received matte dials, large 24-hour hands, and the Caliber 1575 movement. What’s more, while the GMT-Master was originally fitted with a red and blue bezel insert – to match the company colors of Pan-Am Airlines – Rolex watch introduced the option of an entirely black bezel insert during the early 1970s.
These various changes were not all implemented uniformly; and since Rolex manufactured the fake GMT-Master for over two decades until production ceased in 1980, surviving examples of the watch can be found with a wide variety of different dial, case, bezel, handset, and bracelet variations. These numerous yet subtle differences, along with the overall condition of the watch, can be responsible for great differences in resale value for seemingly very similar watches.
While the fake Rolex’s latest iteration of the GMT-Master has received a large, Triplock winding crown to match many of their other sport watch lines, the GMT-Master was fitted with a smaller, Twinlock crown that was similar in size to those found on the Datejust and Day-Date watches. The superior water-resistance of the Triplock crown was initially not deemed necessary for a pilot’s watch.
Given that GMT-Master is a vintage watch, brand-new examples have been unavailable through authorized dealers for several decades. While the pre-owned market is currently the only place to find a model like this, examples can still be found in pristine and unworn condition, with all of their original boxes and packaging materials. Due to its remarkably long production run and the numerous variations in dials, hands, movements, bracelets, and bezel inserts that were fitted to the Rolex replica GMT-Master, prices can range surprisingly depending on the individual watch and its overall condition.