OMEGA Speedmaster Automatic Torino 2006 - My personal experience with buying a wristwatch at an auction!
The world of watch-making is constantly evolving and one of the driving factors in the last years has been the progressive repositioning towards a higher level that many brands have opted for. The most non-generic brands have tended to imitate the business model invented by Rolex and coupled it with inflated retail prices as I have reported on a few occasions already and as many of my readers noticed too. The first inevitable consequence of this new trend is that historic customers are being driven away, those customers that come from geographic areas like Europe and Italy in particular have been left gobsmacked when they have realized that retail prices have increased dramatically but tangible features haven’t followed suit. The recent currency devaluation planned by the Swiss Bank to scrap the country’s three-year-old peg of 1.20 Swiss francs per euro has done the rest.
I don’t want to open a new debate around this issue since it would need to be tackled in more than a single article but it is quite obvious that, almost at the same time price lists have increased, business operations linked to the second-hand market have increased and auction houses have started mushrooming too. In my opinion, this is definitely not an isolated case. A serious auction house offers quite a lot of benefits to its customers, the most important one is probably giving piece of mind to whomever buys or sells a timepiece, business operations also yield the maximum results, something that a private sale or purchase transaction wouldn’t be able to match. Why would someone buy a timepiece at an auction? I could give you at least three reasons; it is much more affordable, it could be an investment, and it is a safe transaction. When retail prices start increasing dramatically, an online auction where second-hand watches and new old stock are on offer can make three different parties agree; the customer who is looking for a timepiece they like but they don’t want to spend a fortune for it, the seller who is interested in putting under the hammer a timepiece or even a stock of watches that is slowly aging in their warehouse, and the auction house that can make these two individuals meet, vouch for a piece’s authenticity, give it an objective value, and make sure that the whole purchasing process works correctly. To summarize, an auction house is the best way to bring together supply and demand.
Let me please add that purchasing timepieces that have been made and sold up to ten years ago also has a big advantage, back in those days retail prices hadn’t been inflated just yet and many of the timepieces that were being sold during those years are not that different from those that you can find in today’s collections, most of all when you are dealing with classic models. Don’t stop at those collections from the current year but try to evaluate some timepieces from the past too because, if they are in good conditions, they will allow you to strike fantastic and extremely satisfying deals. When you are dealing with OMEGA timepieces, the purchase of a Speedmaster is a warranty, there are quite a lot of them around but not every reference bears the same importance. The Speedmaster is a timepiece that preserves its very own value and this will increase dramatically in the case of a Pre-Moon or any Moonwatch reference equipped with a 321 caliber.
OMEGA is currently undertaking a repositioning process and it is probably the brand within this specific segment that has invested, in the last few years, the vastest amount of money and seen the quotations of its timepieces constantly sore, just take a look at the price the last Snoopy Award is currently being exchanged for on the market. Is it possible to buy an OMEGA Speedmaster as a long-term investment? The answer is probably yes and that’s the evaluation that I have made before my purchase. If a Speedmaster Moonwatch is constantly in the thoughts of watch-lovers, it probably means that it is quite difficult to find one at a reasonable price if compared to the price of a new item. An OMEGA Speedmaster Automatic "Reduced" is even more accessible despite being considered the Cinderella of the Speedmasters by many and it could become the next big thing in the small collectors’ world due to its incredibly accessible quotation on the current market.
My very first timepiece was a Reduced and thanks to an auction on Auctionata, a new and interesting organisation in the world of auctions and the only online digital auction site, I was able to replicate the same purchase 19 years afterwards. It might be a case but the OMEGA Speedmaster Automatic Torino 2006 was created exactly ten years and three Olympic Games ago, it is as if I were celebrating another anniversary. Let me please describe my purchasing experience; I came across Auctionata.com by chance through Chrono 24, I subscribed to their newsletter that lets you know about all the planned auctions (Auctionata deals with lots of items beside watches, like cars, furniture and so on), I signed up for an auction where the online store Watchuwant was offering a set of watches from different brands (OMEGA, Breitling, Bell & Ross, IWC), among these timepieces was a new old stock OMEGA coming from Govberg Jewelers, a famous American watch reseller.
The initial auction base was 800 USD and if you browse Chrono 24, you will immediately find out that a Reduced in the very same condition would retail for a price that ranges between 1,400 and 1,600 euro. The timepiece was being sold through Auctionata’s New York-based office (the company also has an office in Berlin) and I managed to get my hands on this watch for 1,100 USD plus a 25% buyer’s premium that brought the price up to 1,375 USD. Including the post and packaging fees from the US (150 USD, quite a high fee if compared to that of all the on line purchases that I have made in the last years) and excluding the VAT import costs due in Italy, the final price that I shelled out for this OMEGA Speedmaster Automatic Torino 2006 Olympic Collection was generally lower than that of similar models that I had found on Chrono 24. I consider the latter the quickest and most trustworthy benchmark that one case use when one is interested in purchasing a new or second-hand timepiece.
Checking the market, studying the different quotations of a timepiece or of similar models before the auction officially takes place, planning the price that you are ready to pay to get your hands on an items allows you to understand a few things; a) what bid you can place before the auction takes place – the so-called “absentee bid”- and b) what the highest absolute maximum bid you can’t go beyond is so that you are able to win the auction without paying a single euro more than you should for the item you have put your eyes on. It is up to you if you want to keep faithful to your highest absolute maximum bid or not. It is quite natural that a limited series could determine a slightly higher price (or even quite a higher price), it all depends on what the demand for that specific item on the market is, this piece of information is not always readily available, and it also depends on how much you are ready to pay for that model. Another aspect I should have considered more carefully when bidding is VAT and how much it actually impacts the final price of an item, I have now learnt my lesson and, in the future, I decided to stick to European auctions only. The OMEGA Speedmaster reached me in a perfect new old stock condition with all its stickers in the right place (the original box, however, wasn’t available.)
After such a long introduction, it is high time I spoke about this OMEGA timepiece. The OMEGA Speedmaster Automatic Torino 2006 belongs to the Olympic Collection that, this year, included a Seamaster Acqua Terra Column-Wheel Chronograph and the Broad Arrow Co-Axial Rattrapante. That was a different time when nobody talked about the Master Chronometer yet. It is a sturdy timepiece and its 3220 caliber is one of the most reliable chrono calibers – it is an ETA that features a Dubois Depraz module -. The chronograph start/stop feature is slightly more enjoyable than that on my Speedmaster Day-Date. I didn’t choose this timepiece because of its refined mechanics but because I reckon it is an ideal OMEGA both due to its size and style. It is sober and you don’t grow tired of it, I actually wonder why OMEGA decided against creating it in a 42mm size and with the same dial as the Moonwatch even after the year 2006.
The bezel reminds me of that of a Broad Arrow, the tachy scale is coupled with the red pulsometric scale on the dial, the indexes, however, are in the shape of a baton, some sort of a mixture between two styles. The 30-minute-totalizer and the 12-hour-counter are rhodium-plated and so are also the hours indexes. The thin hours and minutes hands feature quite a bright green SuperLuminova insert that lights up in the half-light like the luminous index located at 12 o’clock; a special effect that perfectly couples together the green colour with the rhodium-plating and the argenté dial. The central chrono seconds hand sports a balance wheel built in the shape of the 5 Olympic rings while on the totalizer at 6 o’clock has been engraved the “Torino 2006” writing. A small “glass-box” sapphire glass – flat in the middle and extremely curved on the edges – protects the dial. Of all the Olympic editions that OMEGA has released in the last few years, the OMEGA Speedmaster Automatic Torino 2006 is one of the best ones, its 39mm size is slightly small for my wrist but it gives me some sort of feeling of protection, the narrow-mesh-bracelet is aesthetically perfect but it is slightly poor if you compare it to the case’s making.
What I wanted to share with you is my purchasing experience and which steps I took to buy a timepiece at an auction. Among the pros, I would definitely place at the very top the convenience of online purchasing through an auction and the live digital interaction. I also think that this is one of the best manners that a watch-lover could use to save money and also start their mid-range/top-range small collection through safe purchases. My own experience refers to this particular purchase through the auction house mentioned above but I am sure that the purchase method I used can be applied to other auction houses too. Analyzing what the competition has to offer is something everyone can do and this practice can give you an idea of how much you should spend on an item. Obviously, I am not talking about themed-auctions that require a deeper knowledge of references and the investment of more important amounts, I simply want to tell you how I dealt with this limited-risk situation. Please keep in mind that, if you live in Europe, you should be careful to factor in the impact that the VAT rate in your country could have on an item that you want to purchase, let’s say, in New York. When it comes to the OMEGA Speedmaster Automatic Torino 2006 Olympic Collection, two different scenarios could ensue; it might increase its value over time or not. In the first case scenario, it means that you have had the right intuition and made a good investment, in the second case scenario, it means that you will keep on wearing a timepiece that you like. In both cases, it is a win-win situation.
(Photo credit: Horbiter's proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C @Horbiter