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 endingToday 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.