The most expensive Omega ever sold at auction turned out to be a fake

Published on Jun 08, 2023 at 2:23 PM (UTC+4)
by Alessandro Renesis

Last updated on Jun 09, 2023 at 11:47 AM (UTC+4)
Edited by Kate Bain

The most expensive Omega ever sold at auction turned out to be a fake

Omega and Phillips Auction have been left red-faced after discovering the first-generation 1957 Omega Speedmaster you see here is actually a fake.

The watch fetched well over seven figures at auction, making it the biggest auction blunder in recent history.

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Omega, Phillips and the buyer of the watch all fell victim to the elaborate scheme which, according to the watchmaker, also involved inside help.

The company says at least three employees were involved in the scheme.

“[There was] clear criminal intent,” the company told Bloomberg News.

They purchased a watch from the in-house collection, modified it with aftermarket bits and managed to present it to Phillips as a rare first-gen Speedmaster.

Phillips said the fake Omega Speedmaster had been inspected by specialists and experts prior to the sale, and no one found anything suspicious.

Months later, almost by chance, a discrepancy between the date of manufacture of the numbered movement, the serial number and the model of the watch was found.

That’s how the fraud was uncovered.

The auction house hasn’t identified the seller due to client confidentiality rules, but it’s safe to assume they’ll soon have to do so at the request of authorities.

Phillips, the auction house that famously oversaw the record-breaking sale of Paul Newman’s Rolex, had initially given the watch a pre-sale estimate of $131,000.

The watch ended up fetching $3.4 million.

This Omega is what’s known in the industry as a ‘Frankenwatch’.

The term derives from the famous fictional character Frankenstein, and it is used to describe watches that are cobbled together using a combination of original and aftermarket components.

Online marketplaces such as eBay are awash with Frankenwatches because these products exist within a grey area of the law.

Mind you, there’s nothing grey about this particular case, of course, because it was a high-profile, seven-figure auction sale.

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Alessandro Renesis

Experienced content creator with a strong focus on cars and watches. Alessandro penned the first-ever post on the Supercar Blondie website and covers cars, watches, yachts, real estate and crypto. Former DriveTribe writer, fixed gear bike owner, obsessed with ducks for some reason.