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Giving servicing advice on vintage Omega's from member's

  1. Buck2466

    Buck2466 Jan 5, 2017

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    With all the threads coming in from mostly Noobs wanting advice on getting their Grandfather's (Dad's, Uncle's) old Omega serviced, I have been thinking about the advice that is most generally always given. The standard advice from everyone on here is DON"T LET OMEGA TOUCH IT, THEY WILL DESTROY ANY VALUE BY REPLACING PARTS(dial, bezel, polishing,and so on). Please send it to a sympathetic and competent watchmaker and have the movement serviced only or something along those lines. While I TOTALLY agree with this, I think a better explanation of why Omega does what they do to a vintage watch should be communicated also. Since Omega provides a new warranty with their service, they are trying to return the watch to factory standards and would have to replace many parts to then offer that warranty, including the case if it cannot hold a seal anymore. Not everyone that comes here shares our passion about watches and hearing the standard response of "Don't send it to Omega" probably in the eyes of an uninformed Noob, makes Omega sound like they have no idea what they are doing when servicing a watch and gives them a bad rap. To us collectors, we do not agree with Omega's stance here and it is a rap against them. Hopefully, some day Omega will start to cater more to the vintage collector and be more sympathetic to their watches as the vintage market has exploded. Maybe a new sticky could be added to explain why Omega does what it does when servicing a vintage watch and tread at your own peril. What's everyone think?
     
  2. U5512

    U5512 Jan 5, 2017

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    Rolex does the same thing with vintage Subs and GMTs by replacing dials, hands, and case polishing, etc., when they service them.

    Yes, a sticky to explain why a vintage Omega or Rolex watch will lose its value if original parts mainly dial, hands, bezels, bezel inserts, and or case polishing will greatly devalue the watch.
     
  3. dhagema

    dhagema Jan 5, 2017

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    My pre-moon Speedmaster Professional was damaged by a local watch repair company, then the Omega service center made it worse. They polished the case after explicit direction not to (and they agreed not to), replaced the chronograph pushers and original crystal and when polishing the case damaged the bezel (which is a rare 220). I would not send anything of value to them ever again.
     
  4. Buck2466

    Buck2466 Jan 5, 2017

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    Sorry to hear about your experience. Replacing the pushers and crystal can be considered a necessary part of a service and probably does not affect value to a collector per se as long as they are correct. I would never send anything vintage to Omega. But, the point I am trying to make, is that we are quick to tell someone do not send it to Omega as they will change out all the parts and will kill the originality and value, but don't explain to someone why Omega does this. So, to the uninformed, they might think Omega is incompetent when they are not, just unsympathetic because they are bringing their watch back to factory specs as best they can so they can warranty it.
     
  5. dhagema

    dhagema Jan 5, 2017

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    I appreciate your perspective, but the points I was trying to make about the service center were that they polished the case after agreeing not to, and that during the process damaged the rare bezel (which they were also instructed not to touch or replace)-which is unacceptable whether the timepiece is vintage or not. If they have a set of protocols that must be followed then the watch should be returned to the owner without any service if those protocols are at odds with the customer request. Also I did try a reputable local watch repair shop and they badly botched the initial service...
     
  6. Bumper

    Bumper Jan 6, 2017

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    So why don't we compile a list of trusted watchmakers by location & have that as a sticky? It would save answering a new thread almost every day...
     
  7. ConElPueblo

    ConElPueblo Jan 6, 2017

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    Yes, just like the "Vintage Omega Posting Guide" and "Private Sales Forum Rules" have helped enormously - I love how new members always check up on those before blundering about :thumbsup::thumbsup:
     
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  8. Archer

    Archer Omega Qualified Watchmaker Jan 6, 2017

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    Unsympathetic certainly, and at times not all that competent. If you have read any Omega forum for a length of time, you will know that Omega service centers are not well known for providing exemplary servicing. I admit I see less in the last while, but the NJ service center was notorious for not fixing problems, watches coming back with dirt under the crystal, scratches on the cases, etc. Not talking vintage here, but modern watches being sent in. Other service centers have better reputations, but you can see all kinds of threads with watches going back in multiple times to solve a problem, or new problems being created at service.

    At the Canadian service center someone had a vintage Mk II refinished, and they brushed it because they "didn't have the proper equipment" to lap the case. When the owner took it back and complained, they somehow found that they actually did have the lapping machine ::facepalm2::, so they refinished it. The job was so bad they had to send it to Bienne to be fixed, and they removed so much material that was the last time that watch could ever be refinished unless it had some serious laser welding done to it. So even when he asked for a refinish, it wasn't done properly. This service center usually knows it's own limitations with regards to vintage, and they have sent people my way actually, but in this instance it was a pretty big fail.

    This not exclusive to Omega by any means, but some companies are certainly stronger on the service side than Omega is. Rolex, as much as I hate their policies and they are a massive bully in the industry, do a decent job (not perfect) in their servicing. Of the mid-tier brands that Omega and Rolex fall into, they are probably the best. Higher end brands are a different ballgame of course and can't really be compared because the volumes are so different.

    And of course it's not just the Omega brand in the Swatch group that has it's problems...after sending my GO away for service a couple of years ago because they refused to sell me parts to service it myself, I found that a new calendar system had been introduced...

    [​IMG]

    It took them 2 attempts, but they did get it working properly.

    While I agree they certainly have their reasons for doing what they do, that doesn't mean they are completely competent either.

    Cheers, Al
     
  9. Buck2466

    Buck2466 Jan 6, 2017

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    Al, I totally agree that Omega has had their issues in the past with all of the posts I've read over the years and maybe competency was the wrong word, but I was trying to address a separate issue. Hopefully, Omega is aware of their flaws. My point has to do with the vintage watch advice of not letting Omega touch them because they will destroy the collector value by replacing all the parts that hold value without explaining why they would do such a thing. So, that person seeking advice might walk away thinking Omega is a terrible company, when really they are just unsympathetic because they are returning the watch as close to the way it left the factory in order to offer a warranty. Now, do all of those things they want to replace when brought in really affect the performance when it comes to warranty, or are they trying to squeeze a little more money out? Or, is it because they can? You could answer that best. Since the vintage market has really exploded over the years and some vintage watches value has skyrocketed, maybe Omega will at some point, start to recognize a collector's wishes when it comes to servicing their all original babies. Recently, I have read posts where they are listening and respecting the owner's wishes and then other times not. They need to be consistent.

    Not everyone that visits here seeking advice on servicing their vintage piece shares the same passion about their watch as most here and may never return back once they receive that advice. So, they may leave thinking Omega is awful when all they were told is what ever you do, "don't send your vintage watch to Omega."
     
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  10. BlackTalon

    BlackTalon Jan 6, 2017

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    If they do not share the passion then what is the issue? I do not feel it is OF's job to explain Omega's interworkings (especially since it is largely a guess). Plus when it comes to vintage anything, it is rarely normal to go to the manufacturer for repairs 30+ years later. I don''t see people with classic cars typically taking them to dealerships for work. Same for cameras.

    The local Omega service centers have a lot of horror stories, and there are enough from HQ as well that if you have a collectible watch why would you take a chance? Once it is screwed up, it is crewed up for good.
     
  11. Archer

    Archer Omega Qualified Watchmaker Jan 6, 2017

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    You clearly feel strongly enough about this to make a post specifically about the subject - I can't say I really understand that, but that's fine.

    But your premise (in the quote above) assumes some things that I would take issue with. I'll try to break it down a bit in a logical fashion to make my points...

    So let's take hands as an example. In a factory service center setting hands often get replaced even if they are modern hands and are in good shape. Replacing them means that the person who removes the hands (not a watchmaker typically, but someone hired of the street and trained on the job to remove the movement from the case and take the hands/dial off) doesn't have to really worry too much about being gentle with them. They don't have to be inspected for damaged, tightened if they have become a little loose, or anything like that as they just walk to a drawer and get a new set. This is largely fine for modern hands, but vintage hands we clearly have an issue, and it goes beyond the removal.

    If the tritium lume in a hand is cracked, I will stabilize the lume with some clear binder applied to the back of the hand. There's absolutely no reason that this couldn't be done in a service center, but they don't do it - they replace the hand. I've never had one of the watches that I've stabilized the lume come back with it missing.

    Now if they have no option but the replace a hand, why can't they offer a tinted lume option instead of sticking a starkly different modern hand on the watch? They use tinted lume on some watches, so it is a big stretch to do that for a replacement hand if people were willing to pay a little extra for it?

    I'll show this example again since it illustrates the point pretty well - 2998-2:

    [​IMG]

    The pipe of the lollipop hand was split, so it would not longer stay in place when you reset the chronograph:

    [​IMG]

    Repaired, and you can bet Omega would not do this...so big deal just a hand, but one in much worse shape than this was selling on this forum with an asking price of $7,000 Euro:

    [​IMG]

    And if you think the hand they would stick on the watch would be "returning the watch close to the way it left the factory" well I don't think so personally.

    Another scenario I recall is someone who had sent their 145012 to Omega for an estimate, and he was told the case had to be replaced because they felt it would never seal. He contacted me and I advised to get the watch back, and he asked that I try to get the case to seal, so I replaced pushers, crown, crystal and case back gasket, and the watch sealed just fine and passed pressure testing. There was no reason to replace the case, and they didn't even try it, but just said "replace it or we won't take the job." That's there prerogative I suppose, but it's not very customer centered.

    These things aren't rocket science, so why doesn't Omega offer a service that will do these types of repairs? Why don't the allow people to choose what they want done or not, regardless if they can provide a warranty? If I service a watch for someone and they ask me not to change the parts that seal, so the pushers, crown, crystal, or even those yellow case back gaskets that some people seem to value, then I simply tell them there's no water resistance guarantee, so why can't Omega do this? Why do the only offer a "my way or the highway" style service option?

    My view is that it's about control over your watch, and about them "knowing best" when it comes to your property. Now I have this crazy notion that once I buy something, it's my property and I should be able to decide how it gets repaired, but watch companies do not share this world view.

    The bottom line is, if Omega really cared about their own heritage beyond using it to sell new watches, and if they really understood customer service, we would not have to warn people away from using them. The reason they do these things is because they choose to, so the idea that replacing these parts is "the only way" is really nonsense, because I provide a warranty and I do what my customers want every day I'm at the bench.

    Just my take from the trenches.

    Cheers, Al
     
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  12. Buck2466

    Buck2466 Jan 6, 2017

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    Al, as always, very informative! I remember reading your examples above in previous posts. In my previous post, I kind of alluded to Omega doing it just because they can. As far as my quote, "returning it to as close as it left the factory", maybe I should have said, "or whatever it takes for them to justify the warranty and get some more money. :) I guess by replacing parts justifies the warranty in their eyes, and the warranty justifies them replacing the parts whether they need to be or not.....because they can.
     
    Edited Jan 6, 2017
  13. Mouse_at_Large

    Mouse_at_Large still immune to Speedmaster attraction Jan 6, 2017

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    Absolutely agree with the above sentiment (which I hope @Archer wont mind me quoting from his informative post). However, I'd take slight issue with the implication of his second proposition. Of course, you should be able to "decide how it gets repaired", but that does not automatically mean that Omega (or any other watch repairer) has to accept your instructions and are obliged to carry out work in a way that conflicts with their corporate policies.

    We may not like this, but it's their decision. Just as I suppose it is quite within Al's rights to refuse to carry out works if he does not like what he is being instructed to do.

    What is unacceptable is for any repairer/service centre/OEM to carry out works without fully making the owner aware of what will be done. As to the impact on "value/collectibility", that's a bit more of a grey area and I'm not sure exactly where the responsibility for getting the information to make a fully informed decision on what work should be done on a particular watch lies.

    I'm not sure if Omega (or anyone else) puts a disclaimer in their service T&Cs along the lines of "Be aware that the works that we carry our will be undertaken to bring the watch to what we consider to be fully serviced condition. This may involve the replacement of original parts with more modern parts and will allow us to offer a warranty on the work. However, this may affect the resale value of the watch, especially if it is a vintage model. The customer accepts these conditions"

    Maybe they should.
     
    Edited Jan 6, 2017
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  14. Archer

    Archer Omega Qualified Watchmaker Jan 7, 2017

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    I'm not so sure it's about money really, although there's no doubt some efficiency in service times involved in these decisions. It takes time, skill, and effort to do the things I've talked about, and I doubt Swatch wants to invest the money and energy into doing this type of work on a brand like Omega. They would certainly make the effort for a vintage watch of a top brand they make like Breguet, but there are far fewer of those watches to deal with.

    I have seen a suggestion made a couple of times that Omega should create a vintage service specifically for those who want to keep the watch as original as possible. I think this would be the only way they could do this reasonably, and it would be expensive, but I'm sure many would be willing to pay the premium price for this type of service if Omega offered it as some other high end brands do. I would not hold my breath though.

    Cheers, Al
     
  15. Archer

    Archer Omega Qualified Watchmaker Jan 7, 2017

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    As I said in my post...

    "That's there prerogative I suppose, but it's not very customer centered."

    So I have already acknowledged that they have the right to repair the way they want to, but that doesn't mean we have to like it.

    If someone brought me their watch and asked me to do something crazy to it, like painting flowers and smiley faces on a pristine vintage 2915 dial, I would obviously refuse to do that. I think we need to acknowledge that what Omega wants to do is not as bad as that example, but in many cases is not really reasonable if you take preservation of the item as your top priority. What many vintage collectors want is more like art restoration in it's focus. Certainly not everyone wants that, and if someone wants their vintage watch to look like it's just rolled off the assembly line, that's their choice, just like it should be a choice for the collector to maintain the originality of the watch.

    I'm not suggesting that Omega treat every watch the same way - in fact that is the problem with how they do their work currently...

    Cheers, Al
     
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  16. cicindela

    cicindela Steve @ ΩF Staff Member Jan 7, 2017

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    For anyone considering making a Sticky list of recommended watchmakers referenced by location world or region wide, consider this:
    There is a good chance we (Omegaforums) would not allowing it's posting.
    We do not have sponsors, paid or unpaid.
    We do not wish to be responsible for what would appear to be a formal recommendation.
    We do wish to exclude nor vet prospective repair business.
    We do not wish to be named a co-respondent in a damaged watch suit.
    Watchmakers are free to appear here, post and provide information as they wish.

    I could make a longer list , but you get the idea.
    Yellow.jpg

    Besides, you guys don't think that one ego-maniacal watchmaker is enough? ;););)
     
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  17. Larry S

    Larry S Color Commentator for the Hyperbole. Jan 7, 2017

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    Long time ago, post college, I recommended our family mechanic to a friend. What resulted was my being caught in the middle of an ugly dispute between my friend (who also refuses to take his 20 year old sub in for service) and our mechanic over a very expensive repair. I apply this lesson to watchmakers or any recco as well. I reccomend with a healthy disclaimer. Understand OF caution here.
     
  18. DrBerko

    DrBerko Jan 11, 2017

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    First post from a long time lurker. I recently inherited my Fathers Flightmaster cal911. I am going through the same issues highlighted above with getting this watch serviced after it has sat in a drawer for 20years. I do not want it to look brand new, I would like to retain as much of the original character as possible.

    The examples above highlight an obvious issue with Omega servicing. Omega like the other big companies continue to make parts availability virtually impossible for independent watchmakers to continue their craft, we see fewer and fewer of them around and the trade/craft continues to die out. Omegas approach to servicing is not different to other consumer products like cars, shoes, electrical goods etc. servicing now consists of "remove and replace". It is easier to train people to disassemble and reassemble watches like robots without any regard to the actual craftmanship of watchmaking or skill required to repair/fabricate/restore etc. I suspect that the issues highlighted in this forum regarding omega servicing experiences are more to do with limitation of skills rather than an obstinate regard to preserving originality or the character of vintage time pieces.
     
  19. Sashafox

    Sashafox Jan 11, 2017

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    Any recommendations of who to send a vintage Speedmaster to in the UK for a sympathetic service? I want to make it water resistant so I can use it as intended.
     
  20. Archer

    Archer Omega Qualified Watchmaker Jan 11, 2017

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    Welcome!

    Seems I have to clarify this almost weekly, but Omega cut off the 3rd party resellers of parts, but continue to supply qualified independent watchmakers directly. Some watchmakers will say that the requirements for a parts account are very onerous, but the reality is Omega simply requires that you have an up to date, modern shop, with the equipment you will need to service their line of watches. For me it's the equipment I would have anyway, regardless if I had an account or not.

    It's far from "virtually impossible" because if as a one man shop if I can get and maintain an account, pretty much anyone can.

    The first part of this you are heading in the right direction in my view, but then you do veer off a bit. Yes to a degree Omega makes replacing parts a common thing, so for example you simply can't get a new balance staff for a modern Omega from them, so you end up replacing the entire balance if you have a broken staff (or make a staff from scratch, which would end up costing as much anyway). I am not a fan of this approach, but it is what it is, as that saying goes. Fortunately broken staffs are not common.

    However, to say that there is a lack of skill is not correct. Because I don't replace balance staffs regularly, certainly doesn't mean I don't have the skills to do so. Although many aspects of servicing in a modern service center are done by people trained off the street, the movement work is still done by trained watchmakers, and believe me the skills you refer to are learned in the process of becoming a trained watchmaker. They may not be used daily, but they are there.

    For the most part Omega gives people what they want in servicing of a vintage piece. How many times here (and even more common on some other forums) do you see someone get a vintage watch back with all new hands, new dial, completely refinished and looking like new, and the owner is thrilled. The vast majority of the watch buying public do not share the view that people here have, and Omega are doing what all large corporations do - maximizing profits by keep their primary market happy.

    Cheers, Al
     
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