EBEL Sport Classic on ebay - old fake, or frankenwatch?
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  1. #1
    Member JPCass's Avatar
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    EBEL Sport Classic on ebay - old fake, or frankenwatch?

    This had caught my eye earlier, and I went back to it today realizing that something about it was unusual - possibly, at first, I thought in a good way, such as that it might have one of the hard-to-find early model quartz movements without dates:

    Mens EBEL Stainless Steel Wave Quartz 183903 Classic Dress Watch
    - (auction 122972212464 ending
    Today 10:04PM
    - sorry, you'll have to search, I don't yet have enough posting history to insert links)

    * It has no date, but is marked as the larger (for the style and time) unisex/men's size 3 in the second-series 18390x reference; I've only seen the first series 18190x without dates, including the 181903 model/size.

    * It has the thin, shallow case back markings of early EBEL Classics, but only a 4-digit number instead of a typical 8-digit serial number (and nothing to indicate it could be some sort of prototype number)

    * The dial markings lack a logo above EBEL, and the font is elongated - though while wrong for this model, is what is seen on some models like certain Belugas

    * It is all stainless, without 14K detailing - except for the dial numerals

    * It has a knurled, rather than hexagonal, winding crown

    * Its leather band is mounted with spring bars, not EBEL's characteristic screw mount for both bracelet and bands

    Looking at what I've written, I started out trying to note a few oddities, but in scrutinizing the watch it appears I've made a fairly good case for it being a fake, rather than some transitional model - except that I'm not aware of this model currently being faked, and am surprised at the relative quality of finish detailing. My first guess was that it might be a frankenwatch with a mix of parts, and modified to use a standard leather band - but still having some possible value as a beater (or travel - I go to places where you don't want to wear a watch that you don't want stolen) or parts watch, at the right price point.

    I don't think that a redial could explain the discrepancies. I doubt that a watch like that would be redialed, could it even be given the low-profile numerals? While it would seem to conclusively mark the watch as not being entirely original, there are too many other things wrong as well.

    I remember seeing some knockoff EBELs for sale in stores in Germany in the mid to late 1980s, and that there was something unsatisfactory about them - I thought it was general quality, though on further consideration I think it involved their having a more ornate dial style than the classic early tick marks on slate grey dial (it was probably Roman numerals on white) and possibly not having gold detailing. But I'm pretty sure that they wouldn't have been sold openly like that with fake EBEL markings, and instead must have been unmarked or had different branding. Unfortunately, I don't remember the details of the watch I saw, but they could have been pretty well done, particularly if there was Swiss involvement.

    This is a reminder of a problem I've encountered in other collectibles and antiques markets - old knockoffs and vintage fakes (the latter sometimes made by putting fake marks on the former) which have been around long enough to acquire some real patina, and even seeming provenance.

    I was actually considering writing a post asking if anyone thought that there was any chance that hard-to-find quartz movements like the EBEL/Cartier/Piguet cal. 81 (without date) put in the first EBEL Sport Classic "wave" models would be made by someone else, including even Asian knockoffs (which, if reasonably accurate, would be some sort of alternative for affordably reviving old watches); I suppose it is too much to hope that a watch like this would at least have a workable movement of the right size inside.
    stuffler,mike likes this.
    I'm more interested in the styling of my watches, than the quantity:
    Everyday
    : Contemporary Omega De Ville Prestige Co-Axial Power Reserve 39.5 mm, steel on black leather strap, blue dial with Roman numerals, sub seconds and reserve, 424.13.40.21.03.001 cal. 2627 (2500D) - great timekeeper, but about to go to the OB for a rotor grinding noise 2.5 years out
    Dress: c. 1989 EBEL 1911 cal. 93 35mm automatic 14K and steel on bracelet, slate gray dial with Roman numerals, sweep seconds; early 20th century Hamilton cal. 987s in colored gold cases on leather and reptile bands, sub seconds
    Legacy: 1920 IWC early sav. cal. 82 in original 33mm Cresarrow 14k octagonal case on tan leather strap; 1943 Omega cal. 30T2PC Ref. MI 2317 35mm steel on black leather strap, sub seconds; various inherited and collected vintage wrist and pocket watches
    Current project watch: early EBEL Sport Classic Carree wave tank watch cal. 91 quartz 24x30mm (ref. 181902)

  2. #2
    Member JPCass's Avatar
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    Re: EBEL Sport Classic on ebay - old fake, or frankenwatch?

    I want to add that I was checking out EBEL's "1911" (technically, as I understand it, actually Chrono Sport) model chronographs, the earliest of which did have "wave" style bands (as Don Johnson wore in the second season of Miami Vice, and on the Rolling Stone cover) before switching to the more conventional segmented band that has become characteristic of the 1911 series
    (as Don Johnson wore in the third season of Miami Vice
    ). I'm currently looking for one of those as my next EBEL, and lo and behold, I just noticed that the 2 of the 3 with wave bands listed on Chrono24 with pictures of the case back, have only 3-digit serial numbers. Also, the chronos (re-)introduced knurled winding crowns, that continued into 1911 production.

    So the 4-digit apparent serial number on the watch in the ebay listing, and the crown, are not entirely inconsistent with the transitional period from the earliest Sport Classic models. While the Beluga was also introduced as one of the changes of the mid-80s, I can't find examples of the elongated EBEL name with its distinctive "E"s, that are wider than they are tall, being used on that or other models until 1999, at which point they do appear without the logo above them; but the 1991 Lichine did start to evolve the font, and eliminate the logo.

    And I did find another example of this same configuration of watch, except with black numerals and hands (and no pictures of back or movement to shed any further light). So it's not a one-off redial.

    I'm back to not being sure whether it is something seemingly odd like a post-2000 fake in a case first produced to copy a circa 1980 model, though that would have left it closely emulating then-current 1911 model production; or something else strange. If it works and goes for cheap, I think it might be getting worth getting to check out learn a bit, and if nothing else wear as a beater or travel watch.

    If it's a fake or a redial, it's a circa-2000 style logo on a circa early 1980s


    p.s. As a note for anyone into the details of the chronos, as it appears to me, the earliest of the ones with Zenith El Primero as EBEL cal. 134 had movements stamped 40.0, while later they were engraved with 400.
    I'm more interested in the styling of my watches, than the quantity:
    Everyday
    : Contemporary Omega De Ville Prestige Co-Axial Power Reserve 39.5 mm, steel on black leather strap, blue dial with Roman numerals, sub seconds and reserve, 424.13.40.21.03.001 cal. 2627 (2500D) - great timekeeper, but about to go to the OB for a rotor grinding noise 2.5 years out
    Dress: c. 1989 EBEL 1911 cal. 93 35mm automatic 14K and steel on bracelet, slate gray dial with Roman numerals, sweep seconds; early 20th century Hamilton cal. 987s in colored gold cases on leather and reptile bands, sub seconds
    Legacy: 1920 IWC early sav. cal. 82 in original 33mm Cresarrow 14k octagonal case on tan leather strap; 1943 Omega cal. 30T2PC Ref. MI 2317 35mm steel on black leather strap, sub seconds; various inherited and collected vintage wrist and pocket watches
    Current project watch: early EBEL Sport Classic Carree wave tank watch cal. 91 quartz 24x30mm (ref. 181902)

  3. #3
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    Re: EBEL Sport Classic on ebay - old fake, or frankenwatch?

    You lost me at Ebay

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  5. #4
    Member JPCass's Avatar
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    Re: EBEL Sport Classic on ebay - old fake, or frankenwatch?

    Quote Originally Posted by pickle puss View Post
    You lost me at Ebay
    Yeah, I know.

    I've actually picked up some great pieces on ebay, in collection specialties that I really know, and when I can pick out something unusual that may even have been missed by others. Besides all the junk, and fakes, and overpriced collectibles, it's where some of the stuff that people have tucked away, that they don't really know what they've got, turns up. And sometimes it's virtually the only place to come up with hard-to-find items.
    I'm more interested in the styling of my watches, than the quantity:
    Everyday
    : Contemporary Omega De Ville Prestige Co-Axial Power Reserve 39.5 mm, steel on black leather strap, blue dial with Roman numerals, sub seconds and reserve, 424.13.40.21.03.001 cal. 2627 (2500D) - great timekeeper, but about to go to the OB for a rotor grinding noise 2.5 years out
    Dress: c. 1989 EBEL 1911 cal. 93 35mm automatic 14K and steel on bracelet, slate gray dial with Roman numerals, sweep seconds; early 20th century Hamilton cal. 987s in colored gold cases on leather and reptile bands, sub seconds
    Legacy: 1920 IWC early sav. cal. 82 in original 33mm Cresarrow 14k octagonal case on tan leather strap; 1943 Omega cal. 30T2PC Ref. MI 2317 35mm steel on black leather strap, sub seconds; various inherited and collected vintage wrist and pocket watches
    Current project watch: early EBEL Sport Classic Carree wave tank watch cal. 91 quartz 24x30mm (ref. 181902)

  6. #5
    Member JPCass's Avatar
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    Re: EBEL Sport Classic on ebay - old fake, or frankenwatch?

    UPDATE: I'd written the seller with my concerns, and they took the watch into a jeweler today to have the battery replaced - and were told it has a Japanese movement. So they pulled the auction; some ebayers will do the right thing. They said that they bought the watch at a jeweler as the real deal - I can see a jeweler not experienced in watches making that mistake, with a watch that looks as close to right - and plan to take it back.

    I'm figuring that unless it was a frankenwatch with a redial, someone who was set up to make fake cases in the 80s, was putting them together with an updated dial 15 or 20 years later (and probably also faking newer style watches, that used the newer EBEL logo).
    John MS likes this.
    I'm more interested in the styling of my watches, than the quantity:
    Everyday
    : Contemporary Omega De Ville Prestige Co-Axial Power Reserve 39.5 mm, steel on black leather strap, blue dial with Roman numerals, sub seconds and reserve, 424.13.40.21.03.001 cal. 2627 (2500D) - great timekeeper, but about to go to the OB for a rotor grinding noise 2.5 years out
    Dress: c. 1989 EBEL 1911 cal. 93 35mm automatic 14K and steel on bracelet, slate gray dial with Roman numerals, sweep seconds; early 20th century Hamilton cal. 987s in colored gold cases on leather and reptile bands, sub seconds
    Legacy: 1920 IWC early sav. cal. 82 in original 33mm Cresarrow 14k octagonal case on tan leather strap; 1943 Omega cal. 30T2PC Ref. MI 2317 35mm steel on black leather strap, sub seconds; various inherited and collected vintage wrist and pocket watches
    Current project watch: early EBEL Sport Classic Carree wave tank watch cal. 91 quartz 24x30mm (ref. 181902)

  7. #6
    Moderator Public Forum John MS's Avatar
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    Re: EBEL Sport Classic on ebay - old fake, or frankenwatch?

    Quote Originally Posted by JPCass View Post
    UPDATE: I'd written the seller with my concerns, and they took the watch into a jeweler today to have the battery replaced - and were told it has a Japanese movement. So they pulled the auction; some ebayers will do the right thing. They said that they bought the watch at a jeweler as the real deal - I can see a jeweler not experienced in watches making that mistake, with a watch that looks as close to right - and plan to take it back.

    I'm figuring that unless it was a frankenwatch with a redial, someone who was set up to make fake cases in the 80s, was putting them together with an updated dial 15 or 20 years later (and probably also faking newer style watches, that used the newer EBEL logo).
    Good research. Do you have a sense for when Ebel changed to knurled crowns and when the logo was dropped?
    JPCass likes this.

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    Re: EBEL Sport Classic on ebay - old fake, or frankenwatch?

    Don't know if this helps They have 33 certified pre-owned Ebel, but no 183903, on Amazon. Your Ebay search results in 0 matches.
    Last edited by priamo; February 24th, 2018 at 19:25.
    JPCass likes this.

  9. #8
    Member JPCass's Avatar
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    Re: EBEL Sport Classic on ebay - old fake, or frankenwatch?

    Quote Originally Posted by John MS View Post
    Good research. Do you have a sense for when Ebel changed to knurled crowns and when the logo was dropped?
    I wrote up what I have observed regarding that, in my second post. But Rick Denny seems to understand a lot more of the nuances of this, including points I may have missed or mis-interpreted - plus he has old catalogs to reference, while I'm reliant on pictures that I can find online.

    EBEL seems to have used the Chrono Sport introduced in 1982, which later became generally known as the 1911 Chrono, as a sort of transitional model for development of what became characteristics of the 1911 series introduced in 1986 - like the knurled knob. The first of them had only 3-digit numbers on the back, which would indicate that they originally thought it was going to be a limited edition until the old stock Zenith movements ran out; but they kept the same 134 caliber number even as they started to produce new movements as the El Primero 40.0 and then updated it as the 400. And they put the "wave" bracelet from the Sport Classic series on the first of them, but then switched to the segment/link style bracelet that became characteristic of the 1911 series. Also, I'm pretty sure, from what I can tell, that the early chronos also had larger gold rings around the sub-dials, than later production; given that, there may be other details that changed, as well.

    I know that there's not a lot of general interest in EBEL - though I do think they made well-styled and, now, undervalued, watches, particularly when it comes to some of the better mechanical movements like the El Primero, or the thin AS 1250 based cal. 93 automatic in the early 1911s (such as I just acquired) - but I think that if nothing else, it makes an interesting case study of how a Swiss watch manufacturer did make changes to models over time, including experiments with new styling, and how something that we don't now think of as a major brand can be faked. The problems with their custom-produced (in conjunction with Cartier and Piguet) quartz movements of the 1970s through the 1990s, I think also show that quartz models have to be considered to have a limited practical life span unless they are in a form factor, like a common ETA, that will likely still be available new (and affordably) decades down the line.
    I'm more interested in the styling of my watches, than the quantity:
    Everyday
    : Contemporary Omega De Ville Prestige Co-Axial Power Reserve 39.5 mm, steel on black leather strap, blue dial with Roman numerals, sub seconds and reserve, 424.13.40.21.03.001 cal. 2627 (2500D) - great timekeeper, but about to go to the OB for a rotor grinding noise 2.5 years out
    Dress: c. 1989 EBEL 1911 cal. 93 35mm automatic 14K and steel on bracelet, slate gray dial with Roman numerals, sweep seconds; early 20th century Hamilton cal. 987s in colored gold cases on leather and reptile bands, sub seconds
    Legacy: 1920 IWC early sav. cal. 82 in original 33mm Cresarrow 14k octagonal case on tan leather strap; 1943 Omega cal. 30T2PC Ref. MI 2317 35mm steel on black leather strap, sub seconds; various inherited and collected vintage wrist and pocket watches
    Current project watch: early EBEL Sport Classic Carree wave tank watch cal. 91 quartz 24x30mm (ref. 181902)

  10. #9
    Member JPCass's Avatar
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    Re: EBEL Sport Classic on ebay - old fake, or frankenwatch?

    Quote Originally Posted by priamo View Post
    Don't know if this helps They have 33 certified pre-owned Ebel, but no 183903, on Amazon. Your Ebay search results in 0 matches.
    Thanks for that. I hadn't ever thought to look on Amazon for watches like this, though I get used books and CDs there (when I can't find them on ebay for less); does anyone have experience buying used/vintage watches there? Browsing the listings, I do see one apparently solid gold earlier style Sport Classic with wave band that is stated as being from 1991, but with a reference number of 75 that makes no sense, and without good enough photographs to read the back markings (it does seem to be reference number that ends in 901, which would be about right for a 27mm ladies' watch but not, as far as I'm aware, for a solid gold one with deployant), leaving me just a bit suspicious about it.

    That particular ebay listing was taken down. A general search for EBEL 183903 turns up quite a few on ebay, including many overseas. I've found that Chrono24 is also a good source to search, in part because there tend to be EBELs sold by good German dealers who provide lots of photos, including of papers, from which details like serial numbers and dates sold, and movement markings, can be discerned; some of those dealers, including seemingly the best of them such as the one I just bought my 1911 from (they seem to sell a lot and know them well, and the watched checked out with my local old-time watchmaker, as being in just as good shape as photographed and represented), also list some or all of their stock on ebay.

    Something that might have fit better with my last reply, but that I'll put here, is that my searching seems to have turned up an entire fake caliber - I've run across a 27mm ladies' Sport Classic marked ref. 179901, and a 32mm marked 179902, both of which look dubious, including that the 177902 has a spring bar like the fake that's the subject of this thread, though it's possible that some watches would have been modified so as not to require the exorbitantly expensive EBEL OEM bands - with no sign that 79 is a legitimate movement caliber (no listings at O. Frei or other parts/movement sources and references), or that that there is the normally expectable number of legitimate-looking watches in that caliber and reference series that have shown up on the market.
    priamo likes this.
    I'm more interested in the styling of my watches, than the quantity:
    Everyday
    : Contemporary Omega De Ville Prestige Co-Axial Power Reserve 39.5 mm, steel on black leather strap, blue dial with Roman numerals, sub seconds and reserve, 424.13.40.21.03.001 cal. 2627 (2500D) - great timekeeper, but about to go to the OB for a rotor grinding noise 2.5 years out
    Dress: c. 1989 EBEL 1911 cal. 93 35mm automatic 14K and steel on bracelet, slate gray dial with Roman numerals, sweep seconds; early 20th century Hamilton cal. 987s in colored gold cases on leather and reptile bands, sub seconds
    Legacy: 1920 IWC early sav. cal. 82 in original 33mm Cresarrow 14k octagonal case on tan leather strap; 1943 Omega cal. 30T2PC Ref. MI 2317 35mm steel on black leather strap, sub seconds; various inherited and collected vintage wrist and pocket watches
    Current project watch: early EBEL Sport Classic Carree wave tank watch cal. 91 quartz 24x30mm (ref. 181902)

  11. #10
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    Re: EBEL Sport Classic on ebay - old fake, or frankenwatch?

    A search of watchrecon turns up 6 Ebels. Ebel search of Catawiki has 21 results.
    Last edited by priamo; February 25th, 2018 at 05:42.
    sammysy likes this.

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