Needing some help with a vintage Omega
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  1. #1
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    Needing some help with a vintage Omega

    Hi! I've been collecting vintage Timex watches for fun, but have never dealt with more expensive watches.

    Anyhow, I was rummaging through some boxes of my grandfather's things (he passed away in the early 1970s) and found his Omega watch, which he wore until his death. It occurred to me that Omega is a decent brand and it would be worth having the watch cleaned and serviced so that it could become an heirloom. When I got the watch back, I asked the shop if they could write down the serial number but they were unfortunately too busy. I'm nervous about opening up the watch since I don't have any jewelers tools and I don't want to scratch up the case.

    So... I was hoping that someone here could help me approximate the age based on the dial and case design? The back says 14k with a stylized J and an arrow. The band is Speidel. Its an automatic. Swiss made. There isn't a series name like "constellation," etc. My guess is 1950s to 1960s.

    The people who serviced it said its worth $2000, but I've seen Omega watches selling on eBay for a lot less. Plus these guys were kind of overpriced. If anyone had a reasonable approximation of worth, that'd also be helpful.

    I appreciate any help I can get! Thanks!

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  2. #2
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    Re: Needing some help with a vintage Omega

    I have a watch in that same case (back screws on) and the serial number dates the watch to 1956, but my dial is slightly different. My dial is was re-done at some point and although it has the same markers, the word "Omega" is printed on it (not a relief in gold). I don't know if they were using that 3D Omega logo back then. I think they used it more in the 1960s. Mine also says "Seamaster" on the dial. Also, giving valuations is frowned upon on almost every forum.. go with the Ebay prices of "sold" watches. :)

  3. #3
    Member Eeeb's Avatar
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    Re: Needing some help with a vintage Omega

    Sweeping second hand watches started coming in big numbers in the later 50's. They were all the rage by the 60's.
    "Forever is composed of nows." - Emily Dickinson

    "The watch has to be surrounded by a history.
    You need more than just a great design. You need to create an atmosphere around the product.
    Who is the company behind it? Why are they using this material?
    People need to be able to identify the watch with themselves. It's based on emotion." - Ralph Furter

    ...that's just my opinion and I've been wrong before and will be again and might be now!

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    Member georges zaslavsky's Avatar
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    Re: Needing some help with a vintage Omega

    I would say 50's either calibre 50x or 55x
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  6. #5
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    Re: Needing some help with a vintage Omega

    No prices given on WUS, but eBay will show you the lower end of the spectrum and vintage dealers the higher end. Everything is only worth what someone will pay for it, I'm afraid. Enjoy the watch, the memories! If you look in this same forum, you'll see that if it is solid 14K gold (rather than 14k plate - RGP or similar) you can add USD$500 to the value of a steel version. And so on... check out the Omega online database, search under the keyword 'Constellation' and take you give you a good starting point. Resist the urge to open it yourself!

  7. #6
    Member DragonDan's Avatar
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    Re: Needing some help with a vintage Omega

    Hi Shawn, welcome to the forum! That is a wonderfully classic piece - and even more precious as a family heirloom. Very good that you had it serviced, but the statement about the shop being "too busy" to help with your request is a bit worrisome. You are a paying client, they should have taken the two minutes it would take to jot down the serial number (and take a photo!). Still, you have a link with your grandfather and that's something special. It was my grandfather's watch that got me started in vintage Gallet chronographs.
    If you plan on wearing it (and I think you should), I might suggest getting a nice leather strap for it, as those old expand-o-flex styles are pretty hard on the case lugs. Once they are gouged up, it's darn near impossible to have them repaired.
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    Re: Needing some help with a vintage Omega

    Thanks everyone for your help! I certainly won't attempt to open it myself! Does anyone know if the 14K with a J / Arrow symbol means plated or filled?

    I went through the Omega catalog online and couldn't find a watch like mine? Could it be a Constellation even if it isn't marked as such?

    The leather band was something also suggested by the watch shop. I'm not sure if I will wear it right now - i as going to give it to my father as a surprise Christmas present. If he decides to wear it, I'll definitely make sure it has a leather band, though.

    On a side note, the service on this was fairly expensive ($290). I have some other less valuable watches (40s Elgins, etc) that I'd like to get running, but I'm wondering if it is worth the cost?

  9. #8
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    Re: Needing some help with a vintage Omega

    Ah... well, having said you ought to look there, I have to admit I don't always find my own watches in there! It's not perfect. From what you say, by the way, I suspect that it is 14K solid, rather than rolled gold, filled or whatever.

    Finding exactly the same watch as yours on the db isn't essential, there were always variants of the face/case for any model and so you'll only find whatever reference material the archivist had to hand.

    Fear not. If you are really, really interested: go to a decent watchmaker and ask them to open the case for you and record the movement caliber and serial number, as well as the case style number on the inside of the back. The style number will really narrow things down in finding out more info. But I would suggest going back online at Omega with this new information and ordering an extract from the archives. They will send you a certificate which attests to the date of manufacture and so on. I'm afraid that it will cost a bit, around USD$75, I believe, but this is much cheaper than many other watch companies. Having the certificate will add to the value if you ever decided to sell it, and would make any insurance claim (God forbid) easier to defend.

    And knowing the case number will help hugely if you want to get a genuine Omega strap or bracelet...

    As to servicing Elgins, they should be a lot less expensive. Here in the UK, I pay around USD$75 for a typical clean and check from a decent and reliable watchmaker. Service on Omegas, Rolexes and so on are always more expensive.


    Best luck and have a great Christmas!

    Michael
    Last edited by Habitant; December 18th, 2012 at 20:16.

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