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About 10 years ago I bought a dive watch at a yard sale in California for a dollar. I’m not sure, but I may have taken it swimming a few times afterward. Since then, it has been sitting in a ‘junk’ drawer, first in California, and now in (sigh) Illinois.

Two weeks ago I came across an ad for a Belrus Citori ‘Automatic’ in the under-$100 classified section of our local newspaper. Thinking the ad referred to a firearm (I’m a shooter) I Googled it, and learned that the “automatic” referred to a watch winding mechanism.

Then I remembered the old dive watch I bought in California was also an “automatic”, so out of curiosity I Googled the “Seamaster 300” model signature on the face of the watch... and found out that there’s a whole community of enthusiasts that would probably like to horsewhip me.

Sorry gentlemen... I just didn’t know! In 1968 I bought my first dive watch from K-Mart (the ones they sold in a plastic case full of water). From that time until now, including 10 years running yachts as a professional Captain out of Ft. Lauderdale, I’ve never considered a watch to be anything other than a tool for sailing, navigating, and occassionally diving. The only reason I bought the Seamaster at the yard sale in California was because it reminded my of that first K-Mart watch... and I happened to need a waterproof watch to go boogey boarding with my son in the Pacific Ocean near Monterey. (I can almost hear you all grinding your teeth...)

In the last couple weeks I’ve read everything I could find on the web about this timepiece, and determined that the watch passed all of the common ‘tests’ for fakes that people write about. The ‘A’ on ‘WATERPROOF’ is correct, no ‘stubbies’ correct line around the date window, etc. The only thing I'm not sure about is the 'little holes' some people say should be in the 6 and 12 o'clock areas. (They may be there... I'm not sure. My eyes aren't what they used to be.)

I then took the watch to a watch shop that advertised that they work on Omegas. The watchmaker there confirmed it was genuine and said it might have some collector value. I don't think he was a real expert on Vintage Omegas though, he couldn't find my watch in his reference book. (I did find it on the Omega site though.) He told me the watch had some water damage, since some of the gears inside that he said should have been shiny were dull looking. I mentioned to him that there were some very hard to see tiny specs on the face, and he said he thought they were water spots, since the seal looked like it needed to be replaced when he’d opened it up. I let him keep the watch and show it to a collector friend of his, who subsequently offered me $400 for it, saying that it needed some work to run reliably. I declined his offer for the time being.

I wrote down everything we saw while he had the back off... and here’s a summary:

· The watch is ‘triple signed’ – face, case, and caliber
· It has a 565 caliber inside
· The case ref is 166.024
· The serial number 27,xxx,xxx dates it to 1969
· Everything apparently is original (I think… but since I don’t really know the history of the watch past the 10 years or so I’ve had it… I really can’t be sure).
· The face is not damaged, but some of the phosphor is ‘old’ looking – especially the large 12 ‘triangle’ mark, and there are some very tiny hard to see specs on it
· The bezel looks like new, and clicks crisply
· The back of the case shows almost no wear, has some very light scratches
· The crystal has numerous light scratches but no serious cracks or chips
· The case has a few dings and nicks in it, but nothing major
· I believe the watch winds, and runs, and keeps pretty good time (despite the possible water damage)… but I have not been able to wear it normally, and need to test it further once the new band I’ve ordered arrives
· The date-set feature works the way it should

It originally had what I believe was the stainless bracelet it came with. Some number of years ago I took the bracelet off to use on another watch, didn’t like it, and then wound up letting my young son have it to play with... he thought the ‘secret compartment’ (the over-the-wetsuit extension link compartment) was ‘cool’. Try as we might, we cannot now find the bracelet.

After doing the research, I have to admit that I’m beginning to feel differently about this watch. I saw a picture of a “NATO” band on a similar watch; the band was black with gold stripes... and looked really GREAT, especially with the colors on the bezel and the ‘aged’ look of the face. I found one on-line and just ordered it. I also ordered some kind of “ball” that might help me take the back off again. I'm starting to 'like' this watch! Unbelievable...

I don’t think I can keep it though. I could never wear it – I’m just too hard on things. Also - my son is leaving this summer to go college (MS&T a.k.a. “Rolla” , a top notch engineering school) - so money is tight. I think I’m going to have to sell it.

My question to anyone willing to give me advice is this... what do you think I should do with this watch? Should I send it somewhere to be refurbished? At what cost? Would that enhance the value of the watch, or detract from it.

If I do decide to sell it... should I try to sell it on EBay (I’ve bought things there for years, but I have never sold anything on E-Bay). I thought about posting it on EBay ‘as is’... with a reserve equal to the amount the local collector offered me for it. But somehow if I only got a few hundred for it, I think I might feel like I'd just lost a friend. What do you guys think?

If I could fix it up decently without sending it to Switzerland, AND if it looks as good as I think it will with the NATO band, and IF I can get my son through school ok without going broke… it might make a pretty neat graduation present for him when he gets his degree?

And Micheal isn't as hard on things as I am.

I am going to try to get some pictures together… if anyone’s interested I’ll post them here.

I’d especially like to know from those of you who are knowledgeable (1) if the watch really looks genuine (entirely genuine) to you (pending pictures, of course), and (2) if you could recommend a not-to-over-the-top expensive repair facility – probably just to work on the caliber, and to re-water proof it. I’m inclined to leave everything else as is, if it’s really all original.

I hope I haven't violated any of your forum rules with this posting. It's the first time I've posted to a forum anywhere about anything.

- Mac
 

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We love a good story here, especially one with pictures. Maybe this bends a couple of rules slightly, but I don't think it is a problem as you are absolutely with the spirit of the place.

I'm just back from a holiday and so I will keep it short. Value will depend on condition and authenticity, so please don't get new bits and look for a service that will be sympathetic to the watch, better less than perfect but completely original than 'brand new' shiny.

A lot of U.S. people here rate Womble Watch Works for reconditioning - just search. As for value. As an investment: a few thousand (there's a company in Australia selling NOS watches built from authentic spares for $3,000 AUS), as an heirloom with a great story: priceless. Just wear it from time to time to let your son know what is coming to him.

Personally I think the 565 is one of the finest movements made by anyone ever. As for the style, I very recently bought a watch that is an homage to it (which cost a fair bit more than $400) and am ecstatic with it.

Congratulations, and welcome to the forum; rest assured, you will be hearing a lot about this watch in the next twenty four hours!
 

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Pictures! Show us :-! Great story btw...
I would say get it serviced and perhaps (if needed) patched up. This will set you back a few hunderd dollars most likely but you will then have doubled your investment the minute you get it back in good shape. And you will be left with a piece of history, the 300 is a great watch.
If you decide to sell it try the sales corner right here on this forum, I am sure there are people that wouldn't mind a 300 that needs some work if the price is reasonable, I know I wouldn't :)
 

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Congratulations on a great find second time around!

My vote would be to keep it if possible for your son as an heirloom. They are very popular watches and so you would see some return as it stands. Pictures would help the more knowledgeable members here give you some advice regarding the relative merits of getting some work done on it.

Nigel
 

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Mac, it was a good thing that you wrote this story down.

Your watch price today is around 2000-3000$. Thats USD.


So do not let anyone fool you with 400$ or so !!

And this thread really need photos.
 

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Mac, that was very well written. And yes, that watch is worth a lot more than 400 bucks. If you can afford to, keep it and get it tidied up. It should end up looking something like this.


Welcome to the forum, BTW. It's a mad and crazy dump, but we like it.
 

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Great story.... I'll offer you $401 for the watch. Do we have a deal? :-d

Seriously, as others have said this watch is not only a family heirloom but also an Omega heirloom. The Seamaster you have is the 3rd member of the my personal "holy trinity" of Omegas, along with the Speedmaster and Railmaster.

It's great to hear your child will be off to Missou at Rolla. It's a very good engineering school, underated in fact, and his admission shows he must be a pretty sharp kid. Paying for college is always stressful for a parent, but consider that your SM 300 watch would pay for a semester or two tops. Weigh that against the "value" it may have to you and your family. In the end it's your choice, but I would just wear it for now and think about getting in restored for your son, maybe for his graduation?

Welcome to this watch community and let us know what you decide to do!

Regards,
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Wow... thanks everyone. I'll try to get some pictures posted as soon as I can.

Appreciate the encouragement you all are providing. Thought sure at least a few people would throw rocks at me for being stupid.

It's astonishing to be able to converse so easily with people all over the world like this! UK, Netherlands... all over the place!

The band on the 300 in Joe's Collection looks like the one I lost (an 1171?).

I also noted on the Joe's Collection page the assertion that he wears all of the watches in his collection. I like that sentiment, although I guess I can also understand how others might feel differently. In the end, if I feel that I (and perhaps later, my son) could not (or should not) ever wear the watch - that will be when I definately decide to sell it.

But to the extent that meaning can be attached to an object... I do think it would be real nice to keep this watch in the family. It does have a 'story'... albeit a quirky one wherein his Dad's ignorance plays a starring role. We did have a GREAT time in the ocean in California, though, and if I damaged it there, then I did it spending time with my son that we'll never forget. Maybe that's what he'll remember about the watch.

Whether or not I decide to keep it, this experience has opened my eyes to a whole new area of interest. I don't think I'll ever look at watches the same way again. The insides of this Seamaster must certainly be the single most sophisiticated mechanical "tool" that I've ever seen. I can't imagine how difficult it must be to work on something like that. Like trying to do surgery on a flea.

I do think it's a given that I'm going to have it worked on somewhere. I'll work hard on getting some decent pictures posted. I know that pictures are needed for those of you with expertise to provide me any meaningful advice.

Even if I sell it, and don't get active in this area, I do envy you gentlemen your sense of community and common interest. It is infectous.

- Mac
 

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My junk drawer only contains junk! Maybe I should have another look. I'm looking forward to some pictures.
 

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A word of warning , you are now at a very dangerous crosspoint. You are starting to see watches the way we do here. If you don't watch out you will end up like the rest of us and in a few days you will find yourself also wanting a Speedmaster and a PO and and ;-)
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Sorry for the delay everyone... here's the only way I've figured out to do this so far... you need to cut and paste this into your Address window to get to the pics...

http://photobucket.com/Medium_mac_Seamaster_300?albumview=slideshow

Let me know if you can't see the pictures... and I'll try something else.

Would appreciate any advice you gentlemen may have on (1) Where I could get this piece restored at a reasonable price, and (2) What you would do or have done to it. My inclination is to keep it as much original as possible.

I had a couple of very nice fellows make me offers... but I must repeat: I don't know anything more about collectable watches than I've been able to learn on-line over the last couple weeks. This is the only one I've ever seen or held 'up close'.

I'd be especially interested if anyone sees anything that does NOT look original.

Dropped my boy off at College yesterday... whew, never knew it would be this hard. Kinda got used to having him around over the last 19 years I guess. He's only 18, but with the possible exception of my Dad, I believe he's the finest man I know.
 

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Looks pretty much original to me, except for the strap. However, its on a nice rubber tropical strap that is also quite desirable.

It does looks like it needs a service. The case gasket has decomposed and it will not be water resistant in the present condition. I sent you a PM with suggestions for servicing.




Sorry for the delay everyone... here's the only way I've figured out to do this so far... you need to cut and paste this into your Address window to get to the pics...

http://photobucket.com/Medium_mac_Seamaster_300?albumview=slideshow

Let me know if you can't see the pictures... and I'll try something else.

Would appreciate any advice you gentlemen may have on (1) Where I could get this piece restored at a reasonable price, and (2) What you would do or have done to it. My inclination is to keep it as much original as possible.

I had a couple of very nice fellows make me offers... but I must repeat: I don't know anything more about collectable watches than I've been able to learn on-line over the last couple weeks. This is the only one I've ever seen or held 'up close'.

I'd be especially interested if anyone sees anything that does NOT look original.

Dropped my boy off at College yesterday... whew, never knew it would be this hard. Kinda got used to having him around over the last 19 years I guess. He's only 18, but with the possible exception of my Dad, I believe he's the finest man I know.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Looks pretty much original to me, except for the strap. However, its on a nice rubber tropical strap that is also quite desirable.

It does looks like it needs a service. The case gasket has decomposed and it will not be water resistant in the present condition. I sent you a PM with suggestions for servicing.

Thanks much, Joe... appreciate the advice.
 

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I'd call that a jewel!

Nice 'moody' photography too. I suspect that this one will be hard to sell on now that you have some background. However, I'm not sure that anyone has made it explicitly clear that, when serviced, this will be as good an uncomplicated watch as any made before or since. It is not just a case of an attractive style; this is a watch from Omega's Golden Age and they are arguably yet to make a better one.

The styling cues of the case can be seen resonating in Omega's more recent offerings, such as the Planet Ocean:


in the Royal Navy's DEF STAN 66 - 4(PART 1) standard for military dive watches:

and in many many other watches.

While the movement is of such a high quality that you simply would not find one like it in watches that cost less than real estate today.

In other words, you own a really nice example of a 'Gutenberg Bible' amongst dive watches.

There! I think that sums it up for me.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
M4tt,

Thanks so much for the feedback. Your comments have contributed to my education and appreciation of the piece.

Believe you are right, I'm feeling less and less inclined to sell the watch. Am more concerned with restoring it to pristine function (and not doing much else), in anticipation of handing it down to my son.

If you were to send it away for functional restoration, where would you send it? Would you replace the crystal, or retain the original? I can't afford Switzerland.

And if I were to sell it, contrary to my first intentions, I think I'd put it in the correct place on WUS rather than EBay. Would rather sell it to someone who appreciates it for what it is than some reseller who'd just turn it for a buck.

As for the 'moody' photos... ha, that's just great! Part of my problem was that my son (who just left for college) is the only one who knows how to use our digital camera. The only way I could capture the inside of the case back, was to have my 10 year old hold a magnifying glass and shoot through it! Those are the first photos of anything I've ever posted online. Tickles me allot that you liked them.

The topo map in the background on some of them is of the area my boys and I go backpacking in northern Michigan.

- Mac
 
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