Friday, March 29, 2013

Buying a Vintage Omega Seamaster 300

In this article I will share my experiences searching for and buying a vintage Omega Seamaster 300 (SM300). Most of this is a result of thrawling the Internet and this can be looked upon as a collection of these findings. Among collectors buying a SM300 is regarded as a relatively risky endeavor. There are many frankenwatches out there, or even worse: outright fakes. 

Frankenwatches are watches where all parts are produced by Omega, but from different models and different time periods. As always, it is all about knowing the model, decide what condition you'll find acceptable, and finally; what you would like to pay for a piece that meets your standards.

There's a lot of useful information about the SM300 on the Internet. You will find dedicated sites and threads in various watch related discussion forums going into details about the various models of vintage SM300s. Some of this information is easy to google, some is not. And some information get pulled from the net after some time. This article is an attempt to gather some of this information in one place and maybe preserve it for some time.

Some Preliminary Remarks

This is guide buying a vintage Omega Seamaster 300 and much of it is about finding a piece with parts that can be ascribed to the same time period. Note that I'm not saying the same year.

This is because it is assumed that Omega in the sixties produced parts for these watches independent of planned assembly and shipment. Cases dated 1966 can be found housing movements from 1964 (if in 1966 the movements produced in 1964 where still in stock). 

Omega did not follow a tight regime with regard to parts and production year. Of course you will find exact matches, but it should not be a deal breaker if it isn't so. So how to decide if it is a franken? Well, if parts on a particular piece transgresses reference boundaries, typically parts that are specific for one reference found in another reference, you are probably looking at a frankenwatch. Reference in this case is the model number.

An example could be a date window on a 165.024 which again tells you that the dial or case is wrong. Or, if the case is from 1963 and the movement is from 1969 or 1970. Personally I set a maximum of 2-4 years difference when it comes to the production year of the different parts of the watch. So, in these cases you could assume it is a franken.

Model Variations and Scope

What models are we considering? The SM300 has been produced since 1958 and is still a part of the Omega collection. This guide looks at the so-called second generation of SM300's, reference 165.024 (no date) or the 166.024 (with date).

For many collectors considered THE Omega Seamaster 300, ref. 165.024 (no date). A classic and a rival to Rolex Submariner 5513.


Same model, this one with date (ref. 166.024) and an aftermarket mesh bracelet. Big triangle at 12 o'clock, introduced ca. 1967.
These second generation references were produced from ca. 1962 up until 1969. It came in both civilian and military versions, the latter given to service-men in the British Royal Navy. The military one had the ubiquitous "T" on the dial and a military serial number engraved on the outside of the caseback. These watches are very rare and subsequently very expensive. Since they are both expensive and desireable, there are many fakes out there. They are probably even harder to judge when it comes to originality, and as such I have chosen not to include them in this guide. For those of you thinking of investing in such a piece, there are many resource sites on the net dedicated to these military variants.

A fully restored SM300 from WatchCo, Australia. These restored ones are not covered in this article. They are usually easy to purchase as long as proper paperwork accompanies the watch.
Back in the sixties many of the SM300s were used for its intended purposes; diving. 40-50 years later, many of these watches bear marks consistent with this, typically dented cases, cracked bezels and water-damaged dials, hands and movements. But in many instances the watch is salvagable, and many of the pieces available in the market place today are restored ones, usually done by independent watchmakers (like Australian WatchCo) or Omega in Bienne, Switzerland. This article does not cover such restored pieces. Aquiring such a watch is fairly easy and do not require much due dilligence besides getting the proper paper work for the restoration work that has been done.

As of 2012 Omega has condoned independent watchmakers restoring vintage SM300s. But it seems there is a policy change in the making and Omega (along with other major manufacturers) is limiting the possibilities for such watchmakers to restore these watches. There is this story of a buyer of a restored WatchCo SM300 who got his watch confiscated by his country's custom authorities as a franken/fake by order of Omega. Fortunately he got a refund from WatchCo. It will be interesting to see how both restoration and service of vintage Omegas will be performed in the future. If Omega, Switzerland is the only option, it is reasonable to assume there will be a price hike.

To sum up: We will be considering the references 165/6.024, production period 1962-1969. The different parts of the watch will be discussed in detail and checked against model and reference numbers.

Using the Reference Number to Identify the Model

But first things first: identifying the model with the help of the reference number. If this is not a part of the sales description it should be asked for and accompanied with relevant pictures. The reference number can be found on the inside of the caseback. These reference number is indicated somewhat differently, below are the known variants.


Example 1: Six digits, no period after third digit

Example 2: Six digits, period after third digit

Example 3: Six digits and production year

The reference number should be six digits (please note: a modern replacement caseback would have 7 digits, usually and additional zero after the period, e.g. 165.0024).Some casebacks also have the letters SC stamped into it. SC stands for "seconde centre", and means the movement has a centralized second hand.

All casebacks above are legit and constitutes an original caseback from the period in question. Please note that a modern replacement mentioned above is genuine Omega, but not consistent with the time period. Technically a watch with such a caseback is a franken. I will leave it up to the buyer to decide if this is ok or not. Some collectors would turn such a piece down.

Movement and Production Year

The serial number on the movement gives us the production year. The caliber number should also be found on the movement.

Serial number 23797539 indicates production year 1964/1965. This is caliber 552 (w/o date). The reference number and the production year is subsequently used to establish if the rest of the watch is consistent with the time period.

The movement should be a caliber 552 for the 165.024 and a 565 for the 166.024. The last one with date and introduced ca. 1967.  Please note that there are examples with caliber 550. These are SM300s sold in the American market and Omega chose this caliber for duty and taxation reasons. It was cheaper to import caliber 550 instead of the usual caliber 552. The same goes for the date version it seems, although this is not confirmed by Omega. For taxation reasons there are SM300s sold in the US with caliber 563.

Any other movements, and the watch is a franken. Also, be aware that there are examples of watches were the dial is w/o date and the caliber is 565 and vice versa. These watches are frankenwatches.

We have the following SM300 serial numbers for the time period:
  • 1963 - 20'000'000 
  • 1964 - 21'000'000 
  • 1965 - 22'000'000 
  • 1966 - 23'000'000, 24'000'000
  • 1967 - 25'000'000 
  • 1968 - 26'000'000, 27'000'000 
  • 1969 - 28'000'000, 29'000'000, 30'000'000, 31'000'000 
  • 1970 - 32'000'000 
Please note that there are fluctuations with regard to serial numbers, reference numbers and production dates. There are legit non-frankens with a movement produced in 1967 in a case marked 165.024-65. The general consensus is that this is due to the batch production of the different parts of the watch where the assembly was done at a later stage with the parts available at that particular moment. But the fluctuations should not span more than 2-3 years. If so, I would suspect a franken although there is a chance the piece is legit.

The Dial

Next: The dial. It is important to make sure that the dial is original and to establish the level of restoration (if any) of the dial. Given that we are looking at an original Omega dial, the latter will affect the valuation of the piece. There are several aspects with regard to the dial that need to be checked out. One thing is the hour markers, minute markers and the 6, and 9 digits. One tell-tale of a fake dial is stubbies. Stubbies are minute markers underneath the hour markers, see illustration below.

FAKE! An example of so-called "stubbies", i.e. thin minute markers underneath the fat hour markers. Notice the lumina color difference on the dial compared to the second hand. I'll get back to that.

It is also important to check the font of the 6 and 9 numbers. They serifs should be open and not closed, closed signifying a fake dial.

FAKE! Closed serifs at 6. Original dial to the right. Also notice the small hole in the lumina on the original one. This is a sign that the watch has not been re-lumed and has its original lumina

FAKE! Closed serifs at 9. Original dial to the right. Notice the stubbies on the fake one as well.  Sometime the fakers manage to double their mistakes.
It is also important to check the date window on the date versions (166.024). The window should have a white frame surrounding it. If it doesn't have a frame it is either a fake or a regular non-diver Seamaster dial that has been repainted as a SM300 dial. the date window cut-out should also be angled, see illustration below.

FAKE! No white frame surrounding the date window. Original to the right. Also notice the way the date window has been cut out on the original one. The cut should be angled inwards. 

Also check the font of "Seamaster 300" and compare it to a known original. When doing this it is quite easy to spot a bad redial. The luminated markers should also be checked. A dial could be re-lumed (some collectors would turn such a piece down) and this should be reflected in the price. If it has a pin-point hole at the bottom of the marker at 12 and 6, it is probably not a re-dial. When re-dialed this hole get covered up.

In 1967 Omega introduced the "Big Triangle" dial. This was a dial where the 12 was removed and replaced with a big triangular marker.

Seamaster 300 "Big Triangle" released ca. 1967. The Big Triangle was originally intended for military versions of the SM300 but came on civilian versions as well.
If the case and/or the movement is from the early sixties I would be a litte bit suspicious. But I think versions with the big triangle dating from 1965 and 1966 are ok, given the way the watches at the Omega factory were assembled.

Last but not least, check obvious things like misspellings (!), variations in font sizes and the placement of the Omega logo, 300 and "T Swiss Made T". "T" stands for tritium and this replaced radium lumination in the late 50s early 60s for obvious reasons. As I understand it, you will find dials from the early production period with tritium lumination, but without the "T". But then again, it could be a replacement dial from a first generation SM300 and as such a frankenwatch.

Hands

There are two legit hand variations; sword and baton (or "candlestick"). The baton hands were used on early models, usually dating from 1962-1964. The second hand is the same used on the pre-moon Omega Speedmasters, luminated triangle at the top and a droplet below the base of the hand.


SM300 with baton (or "candlestick") minute and hour hand. Notice the re-.lume of hands and dial. Nicely done, but not to everyone's liking.
SM300 with sword hands. Or hand, as it is the hour hand that is shaped like a sword. The minute hand has the baton shape.
There is a belief that Omega had a transition from baton to sword hands around 1965. But as discussed previously, Omega used parts as long as they were in stock. It is highly likely that Omega used baton hands after 1965, but I would be suspicious of pieces with baton hands dating from 1968 and 1969. The same goes for watches from 1963 and 1964 with sword hands. One way to alleviate that suspicion is to check the patina on the hands and the dial. Differences in color might be an indication of hands (or dial) replaced sometime between the assembly date and now.

As a curiousity there are SM300s with dauphine hands as well. These were considered frankens, but fortunately this configuration showed up in an Italian catalog from 1964, and as such proved the fact that there were a transition from the early first generation sM300s with regards to minute and hour hands.

Correct, but very rare early second generation SM300 with dauphine hands. These hands are usually found on first generation SM300s (CK-2913)
The dauphine hands were typical for reference CK-2913 and this proves that the hands were used on 165/6.024 references as well.

Bezel

The bezels came in five different versions during the production period. The changes are mostly font variations and the thickness of the font and minute markers. There are discussions on various watch forums whether certain bezels would be misplaced on some models, i.e. a franken. The conclusion at the time being seems to be that all the bezel variations are legit and used throughout the period. 

SM300 bezels 1963-1969. It is assumed that all of them were released 1963/1964 and as such legit bezels for the whole production period. But bezel D was released in 1969 and should be regarded with suspicion on the earliest models.
But there are certain bezel versions that seem to be more used on earlier models than others, especially the thin fonts on variants A and B in the picture above. But since this is not conclusive, I would recommend not to make this a deal-breaker.

The lume on the bezel should be on the numbers and the hour markers. The minute markers should not be lumed. Also, the patina of the lume should be consistent with the patina on the dial and hands. Fake bezels often doesn't have lumed numbers and hour markers. Instead of lume they are painted in a yellowish tint, see example below.



FAKE! Bezel with yellow, non-luminated number and hour markers. This also has a fake dial with stubbies and closed serifs at 6 and 9. A proper fake!
The bezel should be bi-directional and with one click pr. minute, i.e. 60 clicks. Fake bezels sometimes have more clicks than this, typically 120 clicks. One thing is to count, another way is to actually see the reverse side of the bezel ring illustrated below.

FAKE! The bezel should have 60 bi-directional clicks. Fake bezel below (120 clicks), original on top.

Crown

The crown came in two variants; Naiad crown and the screw down crown. The first one had a self-sealing system and got tighter the farther below you went, the other one is a classic diver crown tightened once and for all by screwing it into the case.

The Naiad was fitted to SM300s up until 1967. The screw-down after was fitted after that. As always, earlier versions with screw-down should raise suspicion. The same goes with later models with a Naiad crown. Although this, according to my experience is rarely seen.

Correct examples of the SM300 crown. Naiad below and to the right. Notice how the Naiad crown fluctuates more with the case than the screw-down crown.

Case and Caseback

The outside of the caseback should have an engraved sea monster with an Omega logo underneath.
Circling the logo: "Certified High Pressure Waterproof" and "Seamaster" also engraved.

Original caseback, where the following should be checked: "Certified" not "Certifed", A with a flat top, same height "Sea" and "Master"
The following should be checked:
  • Fake casebacks sometimes have "Certified" spelled wrong (yes, really)
  • The A in "Waterproof" should have a flat top, not a pointy one
  • Some fakes have problems with "Seamaster": The height of the lettering should be the same, with the M a fraction higher
FAKE! A caseback with all the hallmarks of a fake. It is enough with one of these, but sometimes the fakers manage to make a collection of them on one caseback
It is also important to evaluate font-type and the depth and looks of the engravings to sure. If it looks like the engraving was made yesterday, it is probably true.

The early casebacks had rounded edges, later ones had an angled edeges, as illustrated below.

Correct caseback profiles.  Early caseback on top (rounded) and later version below. Both are correct but be suspicious of early ones with angled edges and vice versa

Bracelets and Leather Straps

Back in the sixties when buying a SM300 the customer had the choice of leather strap og steel bracelet. There is reason to believe that sometimes this was an option offered at an authorized dealer (AD) and the choice was fitted the watch accordingly. Leather straps were easily worn out and as of yet I haven't seen a NOS SM300 with the original leather strap and buckle attached to it. Steel bracelets on the other hand can be found on SM300s, but usually these are later original Omega ones or generic after market ones. The original bracelets that came with the SM300 are as follows:

  • Bracelet 1506 (end piece no. 16), produced 1964-1966
  • Bracelet 1035 (end piece no. 516), produced 1966-1972
  • Bracelet 1039 (end piece no. 516), produced 1968-1971
The 1039 was fitted to the Omega Speedmaster Professional during the same period. These bracelets were not of high quality and were easily worn out and damaged. They are rare in today's second hand market, and when they surface they usually are more expensive than new ones.



Correct bracelets for the SM300: 1039 top, 1506 below. Notice how the Omega logo is placed all the way on the edge of the buckle on the 1506
On the inside of the buckle is the bracelet number, production year and the quarter of that year it was produced. Please note that on some bracelets the production year is missing.

Inside of a 1039 bracelet, produced in third quarter of 1971. Some bracelets do not have the production year. As I understand it, this is also viable bracelets.

Re-luming and Patina

A lot of the SM300s on the market have been re-lumed sometime in their lifetime. Many collectors shun these pieces and look upon this as a modification of the dial which should be original. Others find this ok, I guess it comes down to how damaged the dial is in the first place. If the damage to the lume is to such an extent that the value of the watch will increase with a re-lume I personally think it is ok. But be careful, usually a re-lume will devaluate the watch.

A re-lume is usually done with a modern lumination called "luminova". This shines quite differently from the the "tritium" lumination used in the sixties. Usually the old lume can be re-vitalized in direct sunlight or bright indoor lightning, and the difference is obvious, as illustrated below.

The difference between a re-lumed SM300 and one with the original lume. Both brightness and the greenish color are different.
Another thing we collectors look for is patina. Patina is a very attractive feature on a vintage watch, but there is a thin line between patina and wear/damage. A lot of sellers try to sell damaged dials as patinated dials. Patina should be evenly distributed, consistent in color and perceived as attractive. This goes for both the dial, hands and the bezel.

The patina should be light brown or beige in color. Be aware that some modern luminova can be that color and it is easy to be fooled from a nicely done re-lume. The only way to detect this is to see the brightness and the color of the lume in the dark as illustrated above. 

Correct SM300 with new hands. This illustrates the difference in lume and patina when replacing old hands.

Old Catalogs and Final Confirmation

As mentioned earlier, due dilligence and final purchase is something that is done with a certain amount of uncertainty given the way these watches were assembled by Omega. The final confirmation is usually old catalogs from the period where the actual watches from the different collections are pictured. These catalogs can also give confirmation to models thought to be frankenwatches, e.g. the SM300 with dauphine hands, illustrated below.

Omega catalog from 1964 with the rare SM300 with dauphine hands. A confirmation of the legitimacy of a previously thought frankenwatch.
A good catalog source is www.old-omegas.com.

This is more or less a summation of my findings and the most important things to heed when considering buying a vintage SM300. I think the watch is easier to buy than, say Omega Pie Pan Constellations. The rumor it has as one of the trickiest vintage purchases is somewhat undeserving. 

Happy hunting!

77 comments:

  1. Amazing blog and attractive vintage watches collection, we also provide this type service if you want to more information about us please visit our website http://www.antiquewatchcouk.com/

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  2. Are the omega 300 from Watchco genuine?

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    1. Yes they are, insofar as the parts are genuine Omega parts. But it is a frankenwatch, i.e. put-together-watch. The movement in a Watchco is a vintage movement, but the rest of the watch is newer Omega replacement parts.

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    2. Hi Arne
      I have inherited an omega seamaster 300 date.
      If I send you some pics could you give me your opinion of it?
      Many thanks
      Ross

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  3. Thanks! Basing on the tips from your blog, I have purchased this
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/301140851122

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  4. Your table is good, recently prepared boyfriend birthday, so buy a watch as a gift for him, to give him a surprise, he was more like Omega, I do not know how you feel omega?

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  6. Hi Sean. It is pretty hard to find candlestick hands in a decent condition. Also, you usually get an uneven patina compared to the hour markers. One solution is to buy new ones from Omega (they are supposed to have them in stock) or from O. Frei. But that will definitely give you a difference in patina. That said: The RN ones are supposed to have regular hands as far as I know. You are sure these hands are original to the watch?

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    1. Sorry to break it to you, but then it is not a RN Issue. The first Military RN SM300s were introduced in 1967 with the standard dial and sword hands. So it is too early for a RN watch. You can read the specifications from the MoD here: http://www.microsofttranslator.com/bv.aspx?from=fr&to=en&a=http://www.forum-mdp.com/technique-vintage-anciennes-technical-vintage-watches-f16/ministry-of-defence-document-66-4-part-1-issue-2-t16870.htm

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    3. Yes, I have often seen watches with MOD cases (with markings and solid bars), where the dial, hands and/or movement were from a civilian one. It is a classic franken-configuration unfortunately.

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    5. You are entitled to your opinion. But from a collector's point of view there are too many issues with the watch to call it a genuine MOD SM300 (missing "T", the production year, the hands). As said, my guess it is a put-together. The reason there are so many fakes and franken MOD SM300s is the price they are going for in the marking place. If a commercial one could be made out to be a MOD SM300 you would get ten times the price. Sorry again about the bad news.

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    7. No problem Sean. I guess the closest you can get towards authenticating the watch (or at least the movement) is to ask for an extract from the Omega Archives based on the movement serial number. If the movement was inside a SM300 and delivered to MOD it would say so.

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  8. Hi Arne, great article and very thorough! I recently found my father's SM300 "Big T" he bought in 1969 while stationed with the Marine Corps in Vietnam. I am contemplating replacing the crystal and a couple links on the 1039 bracelet, which other than needing a good service, is about all the watch needs. Any recommendations for reputable online parts dealers?

    Many thanks!

    Jonathan

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    1. Thanks! The crystal should be an easy fix, get it replaced when you get it serviced. Make sure the watchmaker doesn't do you a "favor" replacing the hands and/or re-luming the dial. That would lower the value drastically. The bracelet is a different story. Whole bracelets (and sometimes links, but that is rarer) pop up on eBay regularily. That's your safest bet. Omega doesn't make 1039 bracelets anymore, so it have to be a used one. Good luck!

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    2. Hi, I have an amazing 166.024 from 1967 and have noticed that some dials have gold coloured letting and some have white. Nothing wars mentioned in the write up above and I'm curious about it. Mine has gold letting
      Thanks.

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    3. Hi Peter. I have not seen any SM300s with gold lettering, they should have white. I would assume that it is a re-dial, but to get a confirmation I need to see pictures.

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    4. Hi, it looks very similar to your photo above under the heading Hands and also Bezels.
      It's all tritium. How do I send you a photo?
      Thanks.

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  9. Photo C in the Bezels section looks like mine.
    Thanks.

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    1. It could be a trick of the light in that photo. But it could also be patinated for some reason, i.e. gone a lighter shade of beige. Either way the numbers and the logo should have been white originally, as far as I know. You could also go to the Omega Forum Vintage Section, post a picture and ask them: http://omegaforums.net/forums/vintage-omega-watches-help-discussion-and-advice.23/ If you post your picture at imgur or photobucket I could also have a look at it there. Just need the URL when you have done so.

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  10. Hi i have a SM300 that i purchased out of thye US. It looks genuine, but i have a couple of concerns. It is case marked 166024-67 with calibre 563. so that makes sense if it was sold in the US to have calibre 563, with respect to selling the watch with 17 jewells for lower import and sales taxes. The question i have is that the movement number is 28m. Is it feasiable that the case was made in 67 and the movement fitted in 69 and sent to the US for sale. Or is it possible that omega replaced all the original 565 movements in the watches earmarked for the US when they realised that they needed at 178 jewell movement. So put the 563 movements in then, in 1969. thanks Chris

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    1. Hard to say. Could be as you say, since Omega used to get the cases made by OEMs like HF and CB. It could've been in stock until 69 and then assembled. The only way to make sure, is to get an extract from the archives from Omega. They know if the movement originally was inside an SM300 and when it was delivered.

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  11. I found your site while researching the Seamaster 300, one of which I bought new in Europe in 1969. Mine looks very much like the first one pictured above, except the winding knob doesn't stick our quite as far, and the numerals on the bezel have faded somewhat. My question relates to the fact that this watch has sat in a drawer since probably the 1970s, and even after shaking the watch to wind it, I can only get the second hand to move for 15 or 20 seconds. I'm guessing the lubricant is fossilized. If I was planning to sell it, should I have the watch serviced -- or would it be best to sell it untouched? Thanks.

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    1. Your crown is probably a naiad crown and not a screw down crown (see chapter about "crowns" above).

      Some people prefer a freshly serviced watch when buying, others one that can be taken to a local watch maker and serviced. A vintage SM300 should be serviced by a watch maker with experience not only with Omega but with vintage watches also. So if you don't know of any watch makers with that experience, it would probably be best to sell it as is.

      Good luck!

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  12. Excellent Blog
    Great info very well laid out.
    Thanks for sharing it.
    I will add a link in my course to your site
    Once again
    thanks

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  13. Am I correct in saying that the caption under the first picture is incorrect and should read "165.024" rather than "156.024"?

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  14. Thanks for the kind words, Adam. Richard, thanks for noticing. It has been corrected. :)

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  15. Hi Arne, may I know what you think of this watch:
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/OMEGA-SEAMASTER-300-REF-166024-YEAR-1968-VINTAGE-GREAT-CONDITIONS/252010997773?_trksid=p2047675.c100010.m2109&_trkparms=aid%3D222007%26algo%3DSIC.MBE%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D32222%26meid%3Ded330e1146af4163b8f59702078af219%26pid%3D100010%26rk%3D1%26rkt%3D19%26mehot%3Dpp%26sd%3D281725964060

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    1. Sorry for the late reply, have been away on vacation. It is sold now, but here are my comments: the hands look like from another vintage SM300 (difference in patina). The braclet, as far as I know, is not original to a SM300. But apart from that it looks original (judging from the pictures).

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    2. Thanks for the reply Arne! I eventually got a different SM 300.

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  16. Hello, what are your thoughts of this SM300 on eBay ? Thank you in advance.
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-OMEGA-1963-Automatic-Seamaster-300-Wristwatch-COMPLETE-1171-Bracelet-NOS-/131639093851?hash=item1ea64d2a5b:g:ZUsAAOSwA4dWMCaR

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    1. This is a put-together of new Omega parts, i.e. not parts originally on the watch in 1963 (see "Watchco" above). From a collector's standpoint, this is not as attractive as an original one. The movement could be from another Omega watch, not necessary a SM300. That said it consists of original Omega parts (although not New OLD stock since the parts are made recently) and is a nice looking watch. If pressure tested it should also perform as a new divers watch. If you are ok with all of the above, there's nothing wrong in buying this watch. Good luck!

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  17. Is E-bay the best place to sell a SM300?

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    1. Hi! Sorry for the late answer. Yes eBay is ok, but maybe you should try some of the big watch forums as well, like Omega Forums and Watch U Seek. If you don't know what your asking price will be, an auction on eBay is probably the best option.

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  18. I purchased a new SM300 with SS watch band ca. 1968, I think to the best of my recollection. At least in the band clasp, there is a "68." I haven't worn the watch since the early 1980's. Bringing it into the light again, it has been running for about a week, maybe gaining a minute. The auto-wind is enough to keep going. What would servicing entail and where would I take it?

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    1. I would recommend an independent watch maker with vintage Omega experience. If you turn it in to a local AD (Authorized Omega Dealer), they would probably send it away to a service center or maybe Bienne, Switzerland, and there is a risk that the watch would be "updated" with new cosmetic parts (hands, dials). This would de-value the watch. And the service cost will be larger than what you would pay at your local independent watch maker. Where you should take it? Well it depends on where you live. Good luck!

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    2. Arne, thanks for the reply. If it's running without problems and keeping decent time, is there any risk in leaving the watch the way it is? The only exterior problem is how the crystal looks. Looking straight down onto the face, no flaws are visible. But look at an angle through the crystal in bright light, many lines appear. They may be scratches, hopefully not stress cracks. I purchased the watch 48 years ago in Bermuda a place I returned to many times for sailing and snorkeling. Unfortunately, I can't find the paperwork for the watch. I reached out to the Jewelers where I bought it to no avail, no surprise. I live in northern Delaware.

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    3. Well, I would take it to a watch maker either way. He will measure time keeping and amplitude and this again would be decisive with regard to the necessity of a service or not. The movement is a sturdy one, and there is a possibility that the conclusion is to leave it as is. I am sure there are watch makers in Philadelphia that can help you with this. Also in NYC if you travel further north. If you ask in one of the watch forums on the Internet (like Watch U Seek), I am sure someone can recommend a watch maker for you. If you go to NYC you have Central Watch (@Grand Central Station), who know a thing or two about vintage watches. Ask for Steve. :)

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  19. Great write up Arne, Omega parts may be difficult for small watchmakers to source because of Omega's restrictive sales policy from 2016. I sent my SM300
    To the Swatch Group for new hands because the originals had rusted.The dilemma you may face is whether to replace the hands or leave original .I considered that the rust on the hands may migrate into the movement and they were replaced.As Arne says when you send your Seamaster300 into the Swatch Group they will invariably replace many other items,namely the crystal,crown,hands and fully service

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    1. Thank you for the kind words! Yes, I am aware of the new Omega policies. But more parts for the movements, the cosmetic parts (hands, dial etc) you have to source other places anyway in order to keep the watch as original as possible. But the watchmakers I am using are pretty well stocked up. For the moment. That said, I think your decision to get new hands was right. Sometimes it is better with new hands, than rust inside the case. :)

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  20. Dear Arne,

    This is a very thorough description and very useful indeed. I have an Omega Seamaster 300 166.024 and judging from the instructions you provided, everything seems to be fine. I am though not sure if it is a franken, because the dial doesn't have the "T" on the two sides of Swiss Made and is a 166.024. I would appreciate your judgement very much, but how can I send you some photos of the watch?

    Thank you in advance!

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    Replies
    1. Sorry for the late answer. As far as I know, your watch is ok without the "t" on the side of SWISS MADE. The T stands for Tritium and is the luminous material used to mark the hours. It should say T on such dials, but apparently there are some dials that have gone through QA without the "t". Usually the ones without are big triangle ones, but I am not sure if this is a pattern.

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  21. I bought my seamaster 300 in 1969, in Algier, Algeria, i was working as a topographer (Sahara) wit an exploration oil company, the watch is with a big triangle, st 165.024 calibre 552, movement 26288065, in 45 years i had the crown replaced, and the glass about twice, the only problem i had i lost the "radium" in the needles, i had to take the glass out to collect the pieces, mind you, i dive, ski, sailed around the world , my watch still ticking, and it's a genuine, Omega 300 vintage big triangle. thank you for your page, i am a frenchman living in Australia.

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    Replies
    1. That's a fantastic story! This goes to show the quality in these old vintage watches. And love the fact that you are still wearing the watch after all these years. Thanks for sharing!

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  22. Hi Arne, Can by this one in Amsterdam http://link.marktplaats.nl/m1020539226. What's your opinion?

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    1. Looks ok, but if you look closely at "Seamaster 300" on the dial, you see the "r" a litte too closed. I would suspect this to be a redial. But I need to have better pictures to be sure given the fact that the lume looks ok. A part from that I would also prefer pictures of the movement and caseback to make sure that the movement is within production range and to check that the reference is right (165.024). I would ask seller for more (and better) pictures.

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  23. Thanks Arne. They tell me first owner. But indeed have to see it in real life. Asking price 3500 euro's

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  24. Dear Mr. Rasmussen, thank you very much for this helpful information and the great pictures!
    Could you please let me know how you feel about this one:
    http://www.vintage-watches-collection.com/watch/omega-watch/omega-seamaster-300-with-omega-museum-document-1966/
    especially when it comes tot the orange second hand. I haven't seen this anywhere on the internet...
    Thanks and best,

    Thomas

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    1. Thanks! My pleasure!

      Good news: All the parts and the movement came originally as a SM300, as stated in the extract. Bad news: The dial has been re-lumed and the hands have been painted and possibly re-lumed, probably in the 70s or 80s given the hands/dial patina. Original but "updated". For collectors this is a "no go". Orange second hand like that did not come originally with the SM300s

      Also, this watch watch has been for sale for 4 years now, so this also goes to show that there is something fishy about originality. It has also been discussed on Omega watch forum a.o.

      Personally I would skip this one. Good luck in your hunt!

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    2. Amazing response and detail Arne!!!

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  25. I have a eberhard 300 graf divers ..1969
    .makes like easier than looking for a Omega ..

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  26. Hi,

    Do you have any specific recommendations for sellers who have late 60's/1970 Seamaster 300s (date and no date) for sale. Your post has been super helpful and has helped me eliminate a number of potential Seamasters that I was looking at. Also, any chance we could correspond via email as I go through the process of identifying the right one? Let me know how best to reach you.

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  27. Great article! I would only suggest adding at the bracelet section that there are other original ones not made by Omega but by other manufacturers under Omega license. In my case, I have an original SM300 (mad because having it serviced at Omega, they replaced the hands from candle to sword) but the rest is original. My bracelet is a "holzer y Cia, SA" made in Mexico. The reason is simple, Omega (as many other brands) exported the watch only (no bracelet) to Mexico, then In Mexico they added a Mexican-made bracelet and with that it was considered a domestic or partially domestic product therefore reducing the taxes and bringing the affordability to the watch.

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    1. Thanks! Yes I am aware of the Mexican bracelets. :) They did the same with some of their dress watch models with solid gold cases. Watch and dial in Switzerland, assembled in another country with a gold case to avoid export duties.

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  28. Your article is great. I looking for 165.024 for long time. Any comment if the hands are resumed and the bakelite bezel has a break at the 15 minute marker? Is it worth to buy at this price? Cheers
    https://www.wannabuyawatch.com/product/omega-seamaster-300-ref-165-024-circa-1967/

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! The watch looks correct (and not relumed). Given the condition I personally think the price is a little steep. But the seller is a retailer, so that needs to be taken into consideration.

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    2. Hello 572,

      I have seen this watch in person and it is steep in price and not a fantastic example at that price. It is in decent condition. With that said, WBAW in Los Angeles is a great vintage watch dealer and they stand by their product.

      Arne, hope you don't mind me chiming in.

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  29. Hi Arne,

    Thanks for your great detailed article on SM300. I came across to have this one and can't figure out whether it is come with a replacement SM300 case and caseback. Below are photos for your reviewing, please. It has a different chamfer edge on its caseback, which is not the same as you have mentioned. Thanks a lot.

    http://i177.photobucket.com/albums/w225/mechanic_arnold/temp/IMG-20160726-WA0000.jpg
    http://i177.photobucket.com/albums/w225/mechanic_arnold/temp/IMG-20160726-WA0001.jpg
    http://i177.photobucket.com/albums/w225/mechanic_arnold/temp/12832346_1694059034200981_1796456110187420374_n.jpg

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  30. Arne, any chance you can offer assistance via email or text? Really would appreciate your help.

    Thank you

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  31. Hello Arne, congratulation, this topic is very well made and I think your help on a SM300 I have since many time will be great!!! Can you offer assistance to a doubt I have? How can contact you?
    Thanks in advance.
    Luca

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  32. Hi Arne! Could you please contact me? Got some questions about a SM300. Can you reach me on instagram? @tidstyven

    Best regards

    Anders

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  33. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  34. Hi Arnie, I'm looking at a late SM300 probably 1969 in the US. It looks ok apart from the date being black letters on a white background. All other examples seem to be white on black. Please could I have your opinion on authenticity. Many thanks

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  35. Arnie, do you have an e mail address as I have a MOD SM 300 military marked 1970 with sword hands and not a fake as belonged to a clearance diver RN and has been in the family. Thanks. Dave

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  36. Hello Arne,

    Can I contact you by mail. Here is mine : etheuxshop@gmail.com.

    Regards

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  37. Hello Arnie, I inherited a SM300 from a distant relative in Italy. I did some research and noticed a few things off with it. I am certain that the (naiad) Crown, Dial, and Crystal are all aftermarket parts. The relative told me they were the original owner and had work done on it over the years which could explain the non-genuine parts. . The movement is a genuine 552 and dated to 1968. The bezel, and caseback (165.024) and hands all seem to be genuine too. The one thing I am uncertain of is the case itself. Is there a way to tell if a case is genuine ( i.e markings, serial #s ) ? If the case is genuine, along with the other parts I mentioned, any chance Omega would still service it, and replace the non-omega parts with genuine?

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  38. Hello Arne,
    You have been of great help with my purchase of a 1963 Omega Seamaster 300. I would like to share some information with you as well as some nice pictures, how can I contact you?
    My seamaster has the original papers and box (Italian). Also the daupine hands. Everything matching and with a beautiful patine.
    My email: paul@inexs.nl
    Regards,
    Paul

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  39. Can truly relate and retain this outstanding post. Very well written. replica watches india

    ReplyDelete
  40. Hello Arne,

    May I contact you via email?

    Thanks,
    Paul V

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sure, if you leave your e-mail here, I can contact you.

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