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Watchco NOS Omega Seamaster 300’s: Authentic?


"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.

Posted in Omega Watches, Vintage Watches.

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11 Responses

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  1. 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!

    • 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.

    • 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?

      • 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. Sam the Sham says

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

  7. 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

  8. Doug Hawley says

    Very late reply, but I ran across this trail and couldn’t resist pointing out what,to me, seems obvious. Chuck seems to be making the assumption that they are not real simply because the idea seems to be too uncanny that they would suddenly now be distributing watches made from stockpiles accumulated over 60 years. But this actually fits quite well with the timing of the globalization of world markets especially hobby and collector markets due to the development of the internet and eBay. It’s highly unlikely that their local Australian market would have supported this prior to the mid 1990’s. And recall that Omega and Rolex sportswatches were dirt cheap 30 years ago; why would they have bothered? Watch parts are small, so accumulation and storage is literally unlimited. So having abundant NOS seems plausible and the timing of selling them now seems even predictable. This doesn’t guarantee the NOS 300’s are real, but just saying they couldn’t be real because of the coincidence of the timing and quantity is not a good argument.

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