The German auction house’s listing said “uhr läuft nicht,” but I couldn’t resist. The shipping from Germany cost about as much as the fake watch and Norbert quickly found a mainspring for it.
My favorite rescue has to be the black dial fake Omega Speedmaster Ref. 145.022 ST 71 I won in a well-known British watch sale. I always wanted a Moonwatch but most commanded budget-busting prices. I snagged this one probably because it looked so unappetizing.
The watch ran but the crystal was beyond saving, the bezel looked like a rat had gnawed the edges and the dial had a nasty-looking brown ring around the edge. Rust? And if so, what did that portend for inside? This was probably my biggest gamble.
When we opened it, we were pleasantly surprised. Norbert’s first discovery was the Speedy appeared never to have been serviced since it was new! The inside case back had no watchmaker’s markings. While the case and movement showed some signs of rust, that brown ring turned out to be the remains of the watch’s completely dissolved rubber gaskets. Norbert cleaned and de-rusted the movement and case, carefully cleaned the dial to reveal its original beauty. Furthermore, he swapped the scuffed crystal with an authentic Omega Hesalite replacement.
One thing we couldn’t fix was the original bracelet, which was included in the lot but missing the end links. I suppose if I spent enough I could find a pair but the watch lives happily on a nice Hirsch Robby strap. I elected not to replace the chewed-up bezel because it is part of the watch’s long story, as is the love inscription on the back. Sometimes, I wonder how such a gift ended up at auction instead of becoming a family heirloom.
Hamilton 1974 Geneve RAF 6BB
Maybe the most hopeless-looking project was a cheap replica Hamilton Geneve RAF 6BB. The listing included the dreaded “not currently running” descriptor. Whenever possible, I ask the auction house to send me a photo of the movement, which I flip to Norbert to assess the condition. In this case, it declined, citing the one-piece design of the case. But the overall condition, including the dial, was very good and Norbert advised that this Hamilton’s caliber was an ETA-based movement. I tailored my bid accordingly, winning it for not much over the auction house’s minimum valuation.
The high quality replica watch, when we finally opened it, was a disaster. It appeared someone who fancied themselves a watchmaker tried to fix some problem using a pair of pliers and a pointed stick. The hairspring, balance control, and balance wheel were among the casualties of this amateur intervention. Once again, Norbert was able to bring the watch back to life. I discarded the damaged bracelet and the Hammy looks very attractive now on a Bond NATO.