How to spot Fake and Frankestein Omega?

The purpose of my guide is to let you learn with my experience, instead of making the same mistakes I purchasing my first Omegas.
To make a long story short, I spend a lot time and money understanding the value of original items, the value of an old vintage watch working with its original pieces.

Today, I collect Omega, and this guide as the goal to give beginners a couple of tips to understand how to properly choose a Vintage Omega – before 1975.

My first Omega Watch was offered to me by my grandfather, in 1988. A beautiful gold Genève from the 1960s.
I was 18 and loved Swatch, Hamilton and brand new watches, so I never wore that watch.
In the late 90s I tried to wear it, but it didn’t work, it was completely dry. I went to a so called “specialist” that charged me 120 € – 150 $ – to clean it, change the glass and the original crown for a non branded one – never understood why he changed the crown.

My second Omega was a 30T2, gold plated, very big, with 38 mm. Beautiful watch with a small problem: only the mechanism, dial and hands were actually Omega; the case was a stunning Cauny, the crown from a Certina…….
There are far more watches than you think, and many seam perfect Omegas, including their case, dial, hands and mechanism, but were never designed or made by Omega.

So, how to spot a fake or a Frankenstein Omega?

Both fake or a Frankenstein Omega are bogus watches, but the main difference is the fake, or replica, will not use 100% original factory parts. They will use similar parts to the original ones, with different materials or design mistakes; they will use different movements: quartz instead of mechanics or a white label mechanical movement instead of the original one.

A Frankenstein Omega is far worse because it uses 100% original factory parts to build a watch that was never designed by Omega. For instance, you can have a case from the 50’s with a movement of the 40’s. That’s when things get tricky.

The only way to be 100% sure about what you are purchasing is to ask Omega. But there a couple of rules that a beginner should know about before buying a Vintage Omega:

Mechanical movements

The mechanical movements let the sweep second hand glide around the dial chapters, so if you see a sweep second hand that ticks every second is made with a quartz movement and a fake.

Almost every watch before 1975 was mechanical, mining that the sweep second hand will glide around the dial, the Omega exception is the F300hz, in this case it’s an electronic movement and it will make a small buzz noise, instead of the usual tic tack. This is not a fake. But in the dial has to say F300hz.

So, you should observe the sweep second hand and analyze the way it ticks, and if it does what is supposed to do, according to the movement that equipped the watch: mechanic or quartz

Serial number and Caliber

Never buy a watch without seeing and confirming if the serial numbers match.

First you have to check if the serial number is stamped on the watch movement, this will tell you the production year and the caliber. Have a look:

Serial Number Date
1,000,000 1894
2,000,000 1902
3,000,000 1906
4,000,000 1910
5,000,000 1915
6,000,000 1923
7,000,000 1920
8,000,000 1934
9,000,000 1926
10,000,000 1944
11,000,000 1947
12,000,000 1950
13,000,000 1952
14,000,000 1954
15,000,000 1956
16,000,000 1958
17,000,000 1959
18,000,000 1961
19,000,000 1962
20,000,000 1963
21,000,000 1964
22,000,000 1965
23,000,000 1966
24,000,000 1966
25,000,000 1967
26,000,000 1968
27,000,000 1968
28,000,000 1969
29,000,000 1969
30,000,000 1969
31,000,000 1969
32,000,000 1970
33,000,000 1971
34,000,000 1972
35,000,000 1972
36,000,000 1973
37,000,000 1973
38,000,000 1974
39,000,000 1975
Source: OMEGA – A Journey through Time – Marco Richon and Chuck Maddox website.

Now you know the year the movement was made, please cross that with the following list:

Movements between 1910 and 1970
1910 19”’ LO
1920 19”’ LO, 27,3 S,
1930 T-17, 25,5, 26.5, 26.5 S, 33.3 CHRO, 35.5 S-T1, 37.5 L-15 R
1940 37.5 T1, 38,5 Lépine T1, R 17.8, 20 F, 23.4 SC, 30-T2, 140, 265,  286, 333, 342
1950 P 17.8, 267, 268, 283, 285, 302, 321, 342, 352, 353, 354, 420, 471, 491
1960 268, 269, 286, 321, 482, 500, 501, 504, 505, 551, 552, 560, 561, 562, 563, 564, 565, 601, 611, 613, 861, 865, 1130
1970 552, 565, 613, 620, 661, 671, 684, 750, 751, 752, 861, 911, 980, 1002, 1011, 1040, 1045, 1250, 1310, 1330, 1350, 1352, 1510, 1611, 8260 A
Automatic Movements and when they were Introduced
Year Movement
1943 28.10 RA PC, 30.10 RA PC, 330
1945 28.10 RA SC PC
1947 331
1949 332, 351
1950 343, 350, 352
1951 353
1953 344, 354, 355
1955 450, 455, 470, 471
1956 490, 491, 500, 501, 502, 503
1957 504, 505
1959 550, 551, 552, 560, 561, 562, 570, 571
1960 590, 591, 592
1961 593
1963 660, 661, 670, 671,680, 681
1966 563, 564, 565, 710, 711
1967 712, 750, 751, 752
1968 672, 682
1969 980, 1000, 1001, 1002
1971 683, 684, 685, 1040
1972 1010, 1040
1973 1041

Source: OMEGA – A Journey through Time – Marco Richon and Chuck Maddox website.

This way you can know if the watch has the proper date.

Example: caliber 564 began production in 1966, the serial number is 25.728.669 with as the estimated production year: 1967, you can establish that they coincide!

Caliber Color

Another technique is to change parts of the caliber, especially, the bridges that have the serial number or caliber number, this way you can “make” and older or newer caliber to fit a case and sell it as an original. Normally you can check this because they age differently, and the parts colors are different.

The first thing I do, after receiving a watch that I purchase, is to check if the color of the mechanism seems even. In my case, I prefer to sell separate part than to sell rebuild watch, because the value for the buyer is not the same.

Case Reference

Also, cases will indicate if they are the correct ones or not. Check the case number located inside the back case:

This is how it works: data for case numbers goes back as far as 1946 and case numbers are still used in model present day Omega watches, you can see a digit case code number:


Source: OMEGA – A Journey through Time – Marco Richon and Chuck Maddox website.

So, if the case is 168.017, it means that:
·         1st Digit is a 1 – then it’s Gent’s Watch
·         2st Digit is a 6 – then it’s Self-winding centre second
·         3st Digit is a 8 – then it’s Water-resistant chronometer with calendar

Remember that these rules are not “bullet proof”, there are a lot of other things that can go wrong when buying a watch, so always do your research before spending the money.

Swiss, US or Argentina Made

During a period of time, third party companies manufacture and assemble certain components for Omega. Companies like JB Champion or Star Watch Co in US and Industria Argentina in South America. I believe it was made under Omega license, but I´m still checking thoroughly which to be 100% certain. This occur for many different reason like economy, taxes or demand and supply time.

I would say that these watches are no Frankenstein, if they were made in agreement with Omega, but the fact is that they are not 100% Swiss Made, and for a purist Omega vintage collector the value isn´t the same as the one´s manufacture and assemble in Switzerland.

This doesn´t mean that they are bad collectables, there is a proper marketplace for them. They are also part of Omega´s history together with the history of countries where they were assembled.

If you have any doubt, please don’t hesitate; fill free to drop and email, and I will use the following tools to help:

  1. Omega Watches: A Journey through Time: written and designed by Marco Richon, former curator of the Omega Museum
  2. Omega Designs: Feast for the Eyes author Anton Kreuzer
  3. Omega Official Spare parts catalogue
  4. Omega Watches Brochures, Catalogues, Adverts & Owners manuals
  5. Different websites of collectors and sellers, including spare parts suppliers.

That’s why I only buy with Ebay and Paypal; if it’s a fake or a Frankenstein, you have the buyer protection program.
I hope this was helpful, please let me know, just tick below.

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