The below examples of frankens are to make the point that you always need to do your own research, even when purchasing from well-known auction houses or dealers. I fully appreciate that auction houses have an incredibly difficult job in vetting every piece that comes in their door. And I don’t expect specialists at auction houses, or dealers, to have the depth of knowledge on every piece that you can find on forums. For specific pieces, absolutely, but it would be impossible for them to be as knowledgeable about every piece as the most knowledgeable community member (or group researching together) of that specific piece is.
Swapped parts aren’t necessarily a bad thing, provided it is called out in the description of the piece. There can be some honest mistakes, but if you spend a lot of time reading watch descriptions, you’ll find that an inordinate amount of the time the seller and/or auction house description is clearly intentionally ambiguous or untruthful.
As examples I would recommend forum discussions around an Omega 2913 FAP, a fake Dayona “Solo”, fake Rolex papers, and following perezcope on instagram to learn what to watch for around Panerais (you may not be a Panerai collector, but it will open your eyes to the world of fakes).
If you have additional examples beyond the below, feel free to drop me a line.
On with the examples of bad pieces and/or misleading descriptions:
- Rolex Daytona 6239 with lots of wrong parts.
- Hilariously bad Photoshop of an El Primero
- Heuer 3646 airbrushing
- What’s up with this Heuer Jarama from Bonhams?
- The Garibaldi ‘Ship of Fools’ (Panerai) that was pulled from sale [via perezcope]
- Antiquorum auction of a fake “Heuer”
- Antiquorum and the the Monaco Legend Group presented Rolexes with swapped dials and frankens [via perezcope]
- Seamaster 2943
Auctionata (no more):
- ‘Another fake from the Antiquorum Crew’
- A “Franken” Autavia for 62,000 Euro
- Heuer 1163v with wrong hands, pushers, crown, and bezel
- ‘Garbage Offered for Sale by Auctionata’
- ‘Last Chapter of “Pass the Trash”‘
- Skipperera Photoshopping. fun Maybe it’s simply too tempting not to make that Skipperera blue pop…
- Seamaster XVI
- While not a franken, this blatant Photoshopping of a Heuer Skipperera is totally unacceptable. Here’s hoping someone thought the gouges in the dial were dust marks on the glass they were trying to remove!
- A questionable Omega 2915-1
- Discussion of Speedmasters and an incorrect Omega Seamaster 300 from their Spring 2015 auction.
- A Heuer GH381 (and then to eBay via goldsmith55) with a service dial, and care to swap index markers from silver to gold, in the wrong case.
- Fake Rolex Solo 6239 (serial 1079777). The comments section of the above instagram link are a good introduction to this world of collecting.
- A put-together Omega 2913 in their Geneva Watch Auction: SIX (2017). The auction text states, “The present example is preserved in most attractive and original condition.” Nothing wrong with improving a watch, you just have to let the prospective buyers know! For a good read on spotting correct 300 CK2913 bezels, check out jackwongyf‘s tips.
- The $3.7M Oyster Paul Newman Daytona 6263 from Phillips Geneva Watch Auction: FIVE (2017), otherwise known as “The Legend“, which has a “non-original dial“, and whose “officious, dodgy provenance is well known to the vintage Rolex community“. See comments from poster Clavi at bottom in the Comments section.
- You would never have known the “Unicorn” wasn’t all-original from reading Hodinkee’s fawning, Phillips’ press releases, or the Condition Report. But as news leaked about its history (Goldberger deferred any discussion of the background of the watch), the auction house was forced to issue a last-minute article, days in advance of the auction. Comically, Goldberger says “there were several replaced parts that bothered me. I searched the world for the right components, sparing no expense, to restore it to its original glory.” So this watch, with an original case, but incorrect dial, hands, pushers, crown, crystal, bracelet and no provenance, sold for $5.9m. Oh well, at least some of the proceeds went to a children’s charity.
- Blaming the McQueen family (c’mon, seriously?!), Phillips pulls the Loren James’ Submariner based upondetailed research into its history.
Patrizzi (no more):
- On how an incredibly large number of pieces were withdrawn from a “Heuer Only” auction
- Sotheby’s withdraws a “fake” Omega 2998-4
- Orchi Palar’s critiques of major auction houses, notably Phillips
You might expect that auction houses, under serious time pressure, would be where bad watches slip by. But don’t leave dealers out:
- This “original” Rolex 1016 sold by Michael Morgan from Iconic Watch Company uses a case that was swapped from another 1016. Read more in the discussion on Hodinkee’s Bring-a-Loupe and see what seems to be the original watch on eBay. So yes, even when you read Hodinkee’s analysis that “and with an example [like] this, there’s little to not like..” So we don’t like what we see from the dealer, and it is just cautionary that well-educated writers can miss when watches are put-together. In the Hodinkee comments, you can also see questions around the dial, text specifically.
- A fake Breitling from Robert Maron
- Vesper selling redialed pieces as 100% original, and not listening to the customer pushback later then informed by the community that their purchases were redialed.
- A fabulous community discussion between members and a dealer regarding an Omega 2913 FAP at Davidoff
- John Mayer Sues Robert Maron Over Phony Rolexes
- A Universal Geneve with non-original parts from Matthew Bain
- Another great read…”unsavory activities” on VRF as a respected VRF member (“Mark Lerman = Comexfan ~ vintage1665 = Dave Rosenberg“) gets caught selling a watch that has magically picked up papers. There is also proof of purchased equipment here and here that can be used for fake dates and stamps. You can read the individual’s response to the accusations as well. From the first link in this bullet point I would recommend the quote from greekbum which nicely summarizes the state of affairs. These threads are all a great intro to who to trust! Side comment: some posters in these threads say, “thank goodness I purchased from well-respected Dealer X”… Sorry to burst anyone’s bubble, but you shouldn’t blindly trust dealers, either.
- The ‘Bring a Brain’ series on watchuseek, where poster mkws breaks down what he observes as the fleecing on Hodinkee (simply search for ‘watchuseek Bring a Brain’ for the assortment). Lately this has been more related to price points than dubious pieces.
- For a multitude of made-up Rolexes, you can check out “orchi_palar” on Instagram (as long as you can get past the reference to himself in the third person in every post, and use of the word “bro”). His main focus is on well-known dealers selling fake Rolex and Patek Philippe. Be aware that “O” has a tendency to assume guilty until proven innocent. There is one exception to that rule: he found the Phillips “Unicorn” to be correct, which is crazy. Normally he would rip a watch like that (replaced dial, hands, pushers, crown, and bracelet) to shreds.
And what fun would the industry be if there weren’t some lawsuits?
- The Newest Chapter in the Saga – Antiquorum USA Leaves Watch Seller Unpaid [SJX]
- Auctionata closed it doors on January 20, 2017, after having employees accused of trade violations in the past. In an audit commissioned by Auctionata, KPMG alleged that the CEO and Chief Marketplace Officer both participated in Auctionata art auctions, using both pseudonyms and their real names, and German magazine Wirtschaftswoche alleged that management consigned works at questionable valuations in exchange for “substantial” advances.
- Battles between Antiquorum and Osvaldo Patrizzi (former Chair of Antiquorum), including accusations of embezzled funds and rare watches.