Watchco NOS Omega Seamaster 300’s: Authentic?

watchco-omega-seamaster-sm-300-nos

"NOS" Watchco Omega Seamaster 300 construction. Photo: Watchco

What do you think of WATCHCO in Australia? Is there really any chance he has so many surplus parts for the Seamaster 300 – that he can produce all those watches? He claims that Omega is still making parts for this watch!

Chuck A., Chicago

Hi Chuck,

Watchco was formerly a national-level distributor and authorized service facility in Australia for Omega. Yes, the surplus parts are real, and yes, some of them (like the Luminova dials) are of recent but otherwise official and authentic manufacture. I’m not sure about the assertion that Omega is *still* making new parts for the Seamaster 300 in particular though or what remaining stocks might be.

And the Watchco SM300s are quite nice when you can find them. :)

So, you really believe he just happened to squirrel away parts for 40 years – for a watch that just happens to be one of the most collectable of all time – only to decide recently that he should use those parts to assemble them now?

Yeah, I don’t believe it! I think the movements are legit and the cases are Chinese or Italian. Maybe he even makes the cases – who knows but if he really has that many NOS parts it would be the greatest story I have ever heard in 30 years in the business!

Look there are at least three guys selling these watches on EBAY now!

Two are in Australia – one in California – one in Israel! Sorry , no way this many guys have NOS Omega 300,s ! And they don’t have a couple they have an apparent unlimited supply!

Chuck A., Chicago

I’m not sure what to tell you, Chuck. These NOS Seamaster 300s are not a new phenomenon at all.  They’ve been on the market for about seven or eight years or so now as best as I can remember, before the Chinese got so good at making really good fakes. They’ve also passed the scrutiny of many, many collectors over the years and do not display any of the telltales contained in well-accepted guides to spotting fake SM300’s.  They’re so well regarded that pricing for these “NOS” recreations frequently outstrips that of even vintage originals and nearly approximates that of some of Omega’s modern Seamaster Professional models still offered at retail.

It also might perhaps be misleading to call these parts and watches “NOS,” a term that has become prone to misuse by collectors and abuse by sellers.  NOS (New, Old Stock) when referring to a complete watch like the SM300 to me would imply that the watch itself left the factory as a complete and whole unit.  Instead these are assembled from some parts that are indeed of vintage manufacture but never used as well as spares that are what I like to call “New, made to Old Specifications” with minor updates like substitution of luminova for tritium-based luminous paint.  To its great credit, Omega has been known to undertake new production runs to manufacture parts for some models to cater to its vintage enthusiasts and owners of older watches.  Another model that benefited this way was the Omega Flightmaster, some of which have been restored by Bienne from essentially a lump of barely recognizable rust to into what was by all rights a brand new Flightmaster.

Omega spare parts dial and hands of recent manufacture with modern Luminova

Omega spare parts dial and hands of recent manufacture with modern Luminova

And again, the company now known as Watchco (which itself also changed ownership a few years ago) was formerly a national-level service facility with sizeable stocks of parts and spares.  They have assembled spares for a number of models into complete watches over the years, assembling “new” Seamaster 120s and Seamaster 200s among others, though the SM300s are the most popular.

As for the number online and eBay sellers who don’t seem to be confined to Australia, there are several potential explanations.  One of them is simply that Watchco wasn’t the only facility who had access to the parts channels and they could have potentially been made in any number of places. Indeed, referring to all of these “NOS” creations as Watchco constructions may not be strictly correct in every case.  Another explanation is that the interwebs and online commerce have effective made the world a smaller place, the geography of the collector community smaller and with several years having passed it’s entirely likely that watches assembled in Australia from parts made in Switzerland could well have migrated about the globe.

I hope this answers your question.

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By Rrryan on 14 November 2009 · Posted in Omega Watches, Vintage Watches

10 Comments | Post Comment

Chuck Atkins says:

I’ve been in the business for 30 years. If it is true that they have saved all these parts for one of the most popular watches in the vintage market – it would be the best story I a have ever heard. It’s the “Raiders of the lost Ark” of the watch business!

Why doesn’t he have any explanation on his web site? He offers no explanation – and I asked him! In these times of amazing, pervasive fakery he accused me of being unreasonable!

Posted on November 17th, 2009

Rrryan says:

I don’t know what to say, Chuck. If say you’ve been in the business 30 years and these have been around nearly 10 years now, I have no idea how you haven’t encountered these sooner if you habitually deal in vintage Omegas. They are common knowledge among collectors.

And again, for the most part these parts weren’t saved for 40 years. Most if not all of them are recently manufactured from an assemblage of vintage and recently manufactured spare parts.

You don’t have to take my word for it either. Ask around, these are well known to serious Omega watch collectors.

Posted on November 17th, 2009

John Wilson says:

Bit late for a reply to this Chuck, just picked it up. But if you checked watchcos’ activity on ebay around now you’ll not they’re selling a lot of rough cases/dials which all once housed 565/552 cal movements so I’m with you. Whoever’s making the cases, beit Omega or the Chinese, and no matter how good they are the end result is not what it purports to be. Made up watch..yes. N.O.S. definately not. You noticed a sudden increase in the availability iof N.O.S. plongeurs recently too?

Posted on January 22nd, 2010

Rrryan says:

Every Watchco SM300 I’ve ever seen has contained a movement that had a finish that was fresh, clean, and bright, with no signs of corrosion or wear that would hint at prior use.

Posted on January 23rd, 2010

snak says:

As one who owns a Watchco, bought directly from them a couple years ago, I’d venture to say that that all the parts, aside from the movement, are of new manufacture. Case, dial, crown, bezel & bracelet – what other parts besides movement parts would you need?. You can buy these from Ofrei today. These are the same parts Omega uses to refurbish a watch sent to them today.
Also as to the other Watchco eBay seller, I believe that Watchco Australia uses two names, but there are others who don’t seem to be connected at all.

Posted on November 23rd, 2009

GregB says:

I, for one, have no trouble believing that Watchco has the vintage supplies necessary to build these watches from genuine parts. Why? Because I’ve been buying vintage JLC, Omega, Cartier and other parts from Watchco for many years. The things I’ve found in their vast inventory have absolutely astounded me…. EXTREMELY rare parts in quantity. There is simply no way that it would be cost effective to manufacture such a wide array of vintage parts for so many brands and models.

I’ve probably spent $50,000 on Watchco parts and vintage watches over the years and have never received a fake or counterfeit of any kind.

Posted on August 20th, 2010

Andrew says:

Chuck is dead on the money. As a former Omega vendor I can tell you that the likelihood is very slim that WatchCo’s parts are 100% new old service or that assemblages of such are fully produced with genuine Omega parts. The fact that they are *former* Omega AD’s and not current ones suggests that they had a fall from grace, either by fraudulently over-stocking parts and cases and passing them off as factory-made, by servicing with Asian-made parts, or most likely both. In any case, they are NOT NOS and in passing them off as such they are acting in poor faith.

Posted on August 31st, 2010

Chris says:

I think it’s important to always specify that these are WatchCo/new construction watches to potential buyers.

I’ve seen these consistently described as NOS, which they are not. Nothing wrong with the fact that they are new construction, but that is vastly different from actual NOS items.

My personal suspicion is that WatchCo stockpiled the newly Omega-made replacement/refurbishment parts direct from Omega’s parts department, and are making these watches, perhaps part of why they are no longer official Omega affiliates.

Posted on September 12th, 2010

Sam the Sham says:

The California seller of these SM300’s gets them direct from watchco–personally, I think they are great.

Posted on October 23rd, 2010

Hector_Mia says:

People people people, is pretty obvious, if I’m the manufacture, and i see a company selling my products with my logos and my name on them, and haven’t yet sue them, is because the hare real, because, don’t you guys think that omega will be on their butt for selling non real omegas products? A Multimillion dollar company like omega wont allow a company like Watcho to sell Counterfeit parts. Specially that many watchmakers knows them all around the world and every individual who had bought from them, had restored a original watch with an original part.

I think they are real, but that’s my opinion.

To me it doesnt make any sence, also the

Posted on January 12th, 2011