Discovering a rare and original Omega Speedmaster from 1957 seemed like a collector's dream come true. However, in a surprising twist, the highly sought-after Ref. 2915-1, which fetched a staggering $3.4 million at Phillips in November 2021, turned out to be a meticulously crafted Frankensteined timepiece. As reported by Bloomberg, Omega itself has alleged that three former employees were involved in this audacious scheme. Let's delve into the captivating saga of this imposter watch and explore how even esteemed brands can fall victim to such deceptions.
Omega, known for its Swiss craftsmanship, has accused a former employee from its museum and brand heritage department of collaborating with intermediaries to acquire the fraudulent timepiece for the Omega Museum. This ex-employee convinced company executives that the watch was a rare and exceptional piece, an absolute must-have for their in-house collection. The timepiece, resembling a pristine first-generation Speedmaster, boasted a tropical dial, a distinctive "Broad Arrow" hour hand, a tachymeter scale on the metal bezel, and the iconic oval "O" Omega logo. However, behind its seemingly genuine facade, the watch was skillfully assembled using components from various authentic timepieces and potentially fabricated parts. Omega suspects that the three former staffers involved in the ruse might have participated in the watch's construction.
Omega expressed its disappointment, stating, "Its false legacy allowed the profiteers to justify a highly inflated bid made through the intermediaries." Unaware of the alleged criminal activity, Phillips, the auction house, diligently performed its due diligence before offering the watch for sale. The auction house sought confirmation from Omega regarding the movement's manufacturing date, the model to which it was fitted, the sale date, and its serial number. Even experts and the manufacturer examined the watch, and no concerns were raised.
Authenticity holds immense value in the world of watch collecting. Models in their original factory-built configurations fetch higher prices than those that have undergone modifications. Phillips emphasizes its commitment to offering only 100 percent authentic watches, providing catalog notes or condition reports to disclose any non-original or later-added parts, if necessary.
Unfortunately, the secondary market has become flooded with meticulously forged replicas and Frankenstein models, capable of fooling even the most respected auction houses and watchmakers. Experts caution collectors to abide by the age-old adage: if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
The captivating tale of the Frankensteined Speedmaster reveals how even a renowned brand like Omega can fall prey to deceptive practices. This cautionary tale serves as a reminder for collectors to stay vigilant and prioritize authenticity in their timepiece acquisitions. With the secondary market brimming with clever imitations, it becomes crucial to exercise due diligence and approach extraordinary deals with a discerning eye. Remember, in the world of luxury watches, authenticity reigns supreme.