Newbie questions on new-to-me Constellation
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  1. #1
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    Newbie questions on new-to-me Constellation

    I have always been interested in vintage watches, but never had the chance to become a "collector". Recently my dad gave me a good start by giving me his old Constellation...I believe it is Ref. 168.004


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    He has no documentations for this watch. I don't think it has been serviced for the last 15 years, at least. And as you can see the crystal is pretty scratched up. However, it still keeps good time. While I would never consider selling it, I don't want to do anything to diminish its value. So, here are some of my questions which I hope you experienced Omega owners could shed some light on for me:

    1)How do I find out more about the watch, for example, the date of manufacturer, etc. Would Omega give me the info if I send them the serial #?
    2)Looks like there is a couple of significant scratches (cracks?) on the crystal at the 4 and 6 o'clock positions. Should I replace the crystal or would it hurt the value?
    3)Alternatively can the crystal be polished?
    4)I believe this is an 18K gold case, but it looks a bit tarnished, should I polish the case?
    5)Where can I get any of these done? I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, I don't think there is an Omega Service Center around here.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
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    Re: Newbie questions on new-to-me Constellation

    Gorgeous watch and congratulations on getting it. These "Pie Pan" Constellations are highly sought after. Since this is a family piece, I'd send it back to Omega Switzerland for restoration/repair. You'll pay close to a grand, but you'll get a watch that's essentially new and will be the equal of many new Omegas costing 3x to 5x that amount.

    I did the same with a Pie Pan Omega I found for sale, and it's one of my favorite watches. For a family piece, I wouldn't hesitate to have it redone by the best.

    You can also contact the Omega service center in Seattle and see what they'll do. Finally, Al (Archer) from Canada is a watch maker that is a regular here, and is highly recommended. He'll be cheaper and should do a great job.

    What ever you choose, please pay the price and have it properly serviced. That's a gorgeous watch.

    Here's what mine looked like when it came back from Omega.
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    tsbphd, refugio and suparobg like this.

  3. #3
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    Re: Newbie questions on new-to-me Constellation

    Thanks rfortson. Beautiful watch and I can only imagine that it was a stunning restoration work. Just out of curiosity, what was done in the restoration process,(new dial new hands, new straps...etc)?

    While I am more familiar with the collectors car market, I assume the collectors watch market also has the often debated issue of "Restoration vs. Preservation", i.e., for vintage collectable watches is it better to just refurbish and preserve the patina or total restoration to new condition.

    Anyone has any thoughts on this...or perhaps this is a topic better for the Vintage and Pocket Watch forum.

    Thanks.

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  5. #4
    Member rfortson's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie questions on new-to-me Constellation

    The watch was in decent cosmetic shape, but needed movement work. They did refurbish the dial but not sure how.

    The debate is the same with watches about restoration vs preservation. I prefer a nicer look so I'm quick to go with restoration but there's no right/wrong answer.

  6. #5
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    Re: Newbie questions on new-to-me Constellation

    If you [have someone] remove the case back, you will see the 8-digit serial # on the movement. Reference this chart to determine year of manufacture:

    Omega Serial Numbers By Year...

    The reference (model) # for the piece will be on the inside of the case back. As will the gold content and hallmarks if the case is indeed 18k.

    Another good left coast service center for vintage Omega is Nesbit's in Seattle. Check their website and give them a call for shipping and pricing.

  7. #6
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    Re: Newbie questions on new-to-me Constellation

    Under no circumstances would I allow an official Omega service agent anywhere near the watch. Generally they will want to send the watch to Bienne for a very expensive and usually unsympathetic restoration. The Omega service ethos of trying to make an old watch new destroys its collectibility to a large extent and devalues thw value of the watch.

    Many professional independent watchmakers will have parts watches so as to ensure a ready supply of correct parts and also have access to Omega parts when available as Al (Archer) does. The problem with Bienne is they will supply 'nearest to' if correct or signature parts are not available. I have seen over the years many Constellations come back with all sorts of issues: wrong hands, badly refinished dial, incorrect rotor bridges etc.

    Bienne tends to be okay for later tool watches and with models where the parts supply is still plentiful, but, as I say, I wouldn't let them near a vintage Constellation.

    Cheers

    Desmond

  8. #7
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    Re: Newbie questions on new-to-me Constellation

    Do you have any "before" pictures of the watch?

    Looks new!





    Quote Originally Posted by rfortson View Post
    Gorgeous watch and congratulations on getting it. These "Pie Pan" Constellations are highly sought after. Since this is a family piece, I'd send it back to Omega Switzerland for restoration/repair. You'll pay close to a grand, but you'll get a watch that's essentially new and will be the equal of many new Omegas costing 3x to 5x that amount.

    I did the same with a Pie Pan Omega I found for sale, and it's one of my favorite watches. For a family piece, I wouldn't hesitate to have it redone by the best.

    You can also contact the Omega service center in Seattle and see what they'll do. Finally, Al (Archer) from Canada is a watch maker that is a regular here, and is highly recommended. He'll be cheaper and should do a great job.

    What ever you choose, please pay the price and have it properly serviced. That's a gorgeous watch.

    Here's what mine looked like when it came back from Omega.

  9. #8
    Member rfortson's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie questions on new-to-me Constellation

    Quote Originally Posted by hyperhad View Post
    Do you have any "before" pictures of the watch?

    Looks new!
    No I don't. However they did minimal work on the dial and all parts they replaced were internal and correct.

    I also sent a 1966 white gold ladies watch (family piece) back to Bienne for restoration and they did a great job with that one as well. For me, they have done great work and returned each watch to essentially new condition. The only thing they couldn't fix on my Connie was the caseback medallion as they didn't have any correct backs.

    My experience has been all positive, though you do pay for it. If all you want is a service, there are cheaper alternatives. I'd go with Al in Canada.

    Good luck!

  10. #9
    Member hyperhad's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie questions on new-to-me Constellation

    I like the white dial and gold accents on yours. Mine is silver. It is from the only watch service place in our city. It was his personal watch, so he services it. Old school.

    I'm keeping Al in mind for my Speedy Pro Moon. It is about time for a service.

    Tks.

  11. #10
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    Re: Newbie questions on new-to-me Constellation

    In terms of collectibility and value on the vintage watch market, a watch like yours will always have greater cachet amongst collectors if it remains as close to its original condition as possible. I'm talking here about the knowledgeable end of collecting, but this cadre has a great deal of influence on what is desirable and valuable across the entire vintage market. The ideal of course is old-new, a mint or museum class example, and values and collectibility start there and go along a scale of condition/originality. This is different to refurbishing a vintage piece which, essentially, creates a new-old example, and is correspondingly discounted in value (around 30% less if redialled and even more if case sharpness has been compromised through polishing).

    I'm talking here about the value the market tends to place on originality as opposed to people expressing personal preferences, which, when all is said and done, is their absolute right and privilege.

    Your case is quite sharp and needs, in my opinion, no more than a clean. The lugs still have their original sharp chamfers and if polished will lose some of their definition. The dial looks fine in my opinion, although higher definition pics would help determine more accurately its condition. Crystal is hesalite and can be polished (carefully) with polywatch or other fine abrasive products.

    So, essentially a clean and oil, cleaning of the case and bracelet, replacement of the case back gasket and possibly the crown if you wish to improve water resistance is probably all that is needed to be done with the watch.

    Cheers

    Desmond

    Quote Originally Posted by wachen View Post
    Thanks rfortson. Beautiful watch and I can only imagine that it was a stunning restoration work. Just out of curiosity, what was done in the restoration process,(new dial new hands, new straps...etc)?

    While I am more familiar with the collectors car market, I assume the collectors watch market also has the often debated issue of "Restoration vs. Preservation", i.e., for vintage collectable watches is it better to just refurbish and preserve the patina or total restoration to new condition.

    Anyone has any thoughts on this...or perhaps this is a topic better for the Vintage and Pocket Watch forum.

    Thanks.

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