Hi everyone guys!
Every day I do my exciting job, for a few months now with Roberto Jatucka Randazzo, and I must admit that, between discoveries, purchases and sales, it’s a true adventure everyday.
Sometimes it happens that friends, customers and collectors ask me how the process of buying a particular vintage watch really is, that is to say : what hides behind a transaction, what brings a trader to buy a watch, how do we technically analyze a watch before the purchase.
The spirit of this post is to share with you the behind the scenes of my job, the real one, characterized both by small successes and, as you will read in this post, by not so glorious moments.
In particular, today, I want to tell you a story, a story of a purchase gone wrong.
During a busy London evening, a dear customer sent us some blurred pictures of a rare and interesting Rolex sport watch with original box and warranty.
Unfortunately the photos received were really bad, the watch, barely visible, should theoretically have been a Seadweller 1665 Double Red Mk2.
We did not have nor could we receive more photographic material.
Our client told us that these photos were sent to him by an acquaintance of his, a friend of the watch’s owner, who at that time was currently abroad for work.
A rather intricate situation, but, while looking at those pictures I was thinking that it was far better than it used to be in the old days.
You would never imagine, but often in the 90s, at the dawn of this profession, when no Smartphone or Computer were in existence, do you know which super-technological means did watch traders used to buy watches coming from other countries?
Analogue photographs were then sent using a FAX machine! Several longtime traders have confirmed me this fact more than once, unbelievable but true!
Back to the watch we were talking about, the little we could see in those pictures showed a watch potentially in overall excellent conditions with a very warm and charming patina.
The price was in line with the market and with margin for future resale.
Roberto was puzzled, he wasn’t convinced at all, we already had so much stuff to do at the shop, but my nose was telling me that those few awful photos could hide something really special.
After a few hours I finally managed to convince Roberto to let me go and see the watch in person.
And here my adventure begins !
The owner, abroad for work, had entrusted the watch to his neighbor who lived in a rural village south of London, about 1 hour and 40 minutes by train from the City.
Let’s say the place was not right round the corner, but thanks to the efficient English public transport the journey was less demanding than expected.
Journey planned, tickets booked, I was ready to go!
London Waterloo train station
The  Southern Railway train that took me to the final destination.
The landscape while leaving the City, note the beautiful skyscraper “The Shard” in the background.
Although the City is only a few tens of kilometers away, as soon as I arrived at my destination it seemed to me to have been catapulted into a parallel universe: endless countryside expanses, typical houses, cows, horses, cultivated fields.
A very different landscape from the London one!
Some shots taken while walking to the owner’s house:
Finally arrived after a long walk in the woods I found a lady, the neighbour of the watch’s owner, welcoming me: a kind lady of Spanish origins.
Between a chat and the other in Spanish, she started telling me about her life, and not just moments but the whole of it!
For privacy reasons I will not reveal much, but I can only say that she ended up asking me to buy her wedding ring, symptomatic of the fact that it shouldn’t have been such a happy ending love…
But here we are, finally I was given the mystery watch inside its original box.
Ah …I was nearly forgetting, consider that while I was starting to dismantle everything with case-opener and screwdrivers I was continually being filmed by the lady because she wanted to show the owner, via video-call, what I was fumbling about on his watch.
In short, not the best situation ever to find the necessary concentration to buy a watch of this caliber!
But finally here is the watch!
At first glance it may look really wonderful: warm patina, full case, guarantee and booklets.
But having a closer look at it, using a lens, I immediately noticed something strange, very strange.
I said to myself: “Maybe it’s just an impression, let’s wait and see the case engravings, I will come back later and check the dial again.”
Unfortunately, here the situation didn’t not improve at all.
I then focused on the caseback.
Here too the situation appeared rather tragic.
The only thing that wasn’t fake was the movement and the bracelet, a meager consolation.
The lady saw me puzzled, the situation was difficult: the watch was almost completely fake and I found myself very embarrassed to tell her and watch’s owner who was watching me “live” while the video-call was still in progress.
Given the bad news and a brief technical explanation it was time to leave, I greeted the dear lady, the apparently startled owner of the watch, and I headed back to the station to return to the base.
I was very disappointed, so many KM and fatigue for nothing, but unfortunately sometimes it happens in this work, it is part of the game.
It will not be the first nor the last time, but in any case it turned out to be a valuable adventure to add to my personal wealth of experience.
Finally I did some photo-collages to technically explain what to look at in order to understand why this watch is a fake.
The most obvious difference with an original MK2 is certainly the crown, more slender in the fake.
Even the writings are different from the original: coming with more serif in the lettering, of a brighter red hue and in bold type.
Also in the fake one, the tritium is very compact, as if paint.
The serials are good quality fakes, but still very recognizable for an expert eye.
Also consider that, according to my research and experience, a batch of 1665 with the 2.8 serial has never been produced
I remind you that watches are produced in batches of cases, it is very easy to find serial numbers where a reference is completely absent.
As for the caseback, there are several originality issues: different fonts than those known as original, and above all the presence of the engraved date II.70 which, in my opinion, does not exist on any other 1665 red double as they were not produced in that specific period.
The guarantee appears to be original, but the 1665 stamp looks re-applied.

So, a nice messed-up watch.
My opinion is that, first of all, they found an original guarantee for a generic Rolex from the 70s and a Seadweller case and from there, they started to reconstruct this clone with a fake dial and fake caseback, re-engraved serial numbers and reference, original inlay, movement and bracelet.
A fake that if seen “live” or analyzed with high resolution photos can certainly not fool a connoisseur of these models, but that can surely go unnoticed by an inexperienced eye.
Therefore, my dispassionate advice, always buy from safe channels, do not throw yourself into unwary purchases chasing the deal if you do not have notions and experience on the watch that you are about to buy!
Hoping not to have bored you, I greet you and wish you a good evening!

2 commenti

  • josh benbow5 anni ago

    Really interesting and informative article. Thank you!