Industry News Watches

Fake Omega Sold at Auction for CHF 3 Million

Omega Speedmaster Broad Arrow Ref. 2915-1 Phillips Auction Fake

Every month hundreds and thousands of watches are sold at auction and for the most part those transactions go smoothly. At the high end, luxury watches can sell for well over £1 million, £2 million, £3 million or even more, as these highlights from the recent Geneva watch auctions. However, as with any industry with such sums of money involved, occasionally a bad apple slips through the net. Bloomberg and NZZ have just revealed a case of fraud involving a fake Omega sold at auction for CHF 3 million in 2021.

Due to the fact that there may yet be legal proceedings involving this situation – at the time of writing it hasn’t been revealed if there will be – let’s start by getting the facts straight. The fake watch was consigned to Phillips auction house under the guise of being an Omega Ref. 2915-1 from 1957. The watch was fabricated from multiple authentic Omega parts, which has led to it being described as a Frankenstein watch. The watch was bought by the Omega Museum for CHF 3,115,500.

Omega Speedmaster Broad Arrow Ref. 2915-1 Phillips Auction Fake
Omega Speedmaster Broad Arrow Ref. 2915-1 Phillips Auction Fake

Now we get into the realm of allegations and theories that have not yet been substantiated. At least one of the alleged fraudsters involved is said to have been a former employee of the Omega Museum – this much has been confirmed by Omega. To give the story its Ocean’s 11 style spin, what appears to have happened is that said employee used their access to the brand heritage department to source authentic watch parts to fabricate a realistic fake, put it up for auction and use their position at the museum to authenticate it and convince the museum to buy it for an extortionate amount of money. That storyline is speculative, but the facts appear to support it.

Omega Speedmaster Broad Arrow Ref. 2915-1 Phillips Auction Fake

The alleged crime appears to have been well planned (it has taken 2 years to uncover) and specifically designed to bypass the safeguarding of Phillips and Omega through the use of this alleged inside man. It also appears to have been a targeted fraud, by which I mean those selling the watch knew who the buyer was going to be (the museum) and how to drive the price up dramatically higher than the expected result, presumably by using fake bidders as there were multiple people allegedly involved. Prior to the sale the watch only had an estimate of CHF 80,000 – CHF 120,000 and that’s assuming it was the genuine article.

Why is the fact that this was, allegedly, a targeted and planned fraud action against Omega important? Well, it means the next time that you head to the auction house you don’t have to worry about being hoodwinked by ne’er-do-wells, the watches you want to buy and sell should be absolutely fine… probably. This was a truly exceptional circumstance.

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About the author

Michael Sonsino

As Digital Editor for Oracle Time, Michael needs an eye for detail, which makes it a good thing that his twin joys in life are miniatures and watches. He's a lifelong fan of fine timepieces, especially those of a more historic nature - if it has a twist of Art Deco, all the better. Recent purchase: Seiko Prospex 1959 Alpinist Modern Re-Interpretation. Grail watch: Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921.