FrankenFake Omega Constellation Calibre 561

Fake Omega Constellation Cal 561
Picture above from eBay used for education purposes
It seems that fate has determined that I experience a minor obsession with fakes and frankens this month. I’ve received numerous emails from subscribers asking me about the autheticity of Constellation pie pans on and off eBay.
Take a look at this little trickster offered by UK eBay seller newbiggen that was more likely to have been hatched somewhere in Lincolnshire than in Bienne. All I can say newbiggen is that your photographs conceal as much as they reveal.

For the purposes of demonstrating how I arrived at the conclusion that this watch is a franken at best and fake case and dial at worst, I'll run through the process I went through to evaluate it.

Firstly, the 17 million serial number. There is a table on the Omega database under the title 'How old is my watch?" which shows serial numbers and dates.....I have my own table, but the table shows the watch movement was made sometime in 1959.

Next (although because I know these models so well I picked this straight up) is to access the Omega vintage database and key in 167.005. The most important thing the database tells us is that the watch case (case number stamped on the inner case back) should house a calibre 551 and not a 561!!! So newbiggen appears to be advertently or inadvertently telling us quite a biggen about the origins of this watch.

This database also reveals that this case was released as part of the Omega international collection of 1962. I know this to be correct as the case numbers for the dog leg lugged earlier models were 14900 and 14902 for calibre 551 and 561 models respectively. Incidentally, I have never seen a 17 million movement in a case 167.005 or a 168.005.
And so we discover newbiggen’s second biggen - a three year gap between movement manufacture and the date of release. This is far too excessive a lag time, because we know that Omega was run off its feet producing movements for its super popular pie pan models and there was very little lag between completion and casing of movements in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Two major inconsistencies are enough for us to conclude that theres a real problem with this watch. Combine an incorrect movement with the case number 167.005 engraved on the inner case back, together with dodgy serial number for this case number and we can conclude that this is at least a franken watch. But let’s continue.

Take a look at the watch dial – what do you see? Firstly, you will note that T SWISS T appears at six o'clock. This means that we should see luminous material on the base of each hour marker and also on the hands. There is no lume on the markers or hands (The markers do not have the appropriate recesses to house the lume) and so we can conclude one of two things: (a) the dial has been refinished or (b) the dial is a fake dial.

To further explore we must look closely at the markers themselves. In genuine markers, there is a small strip of black onyx seated in each marker, and in fakes there is usually a recess that is painted black. Looking at the dial it appears that the recess is PAINTED black - not a good sign.

Then we look at the script and compare it with a genuine dial. We discover that while the lettering is quite a good copy, the word Constellation has a number of variations compared with a real Constellation. The letter Ns are wrong as is the T, and the lettering is not serif but sans serif! The uppercase lettering shows a number of discrepancies including incorrect Rs and lack of serif font. Also the printing is not as sharp as a real dial and the applied Omega logo is abominably cast. Therefore we can conclude that the dial is likely a fake until proven otherwise: an improvement on the previous fake dials sold by Jensen Dinh, but still a fake.

I also have serious concerns about the case: it doesn’t appear to have a bevel in the space between the bezel and the main watch body and there are finish inconsistencies on the case back. I would need more revealing pictures to make an accurate call on whether the case was a fake, but it’s sure looking that way. But potentially fake dial and incorrect case number for this movement is enough for me to describe the watch as a frankenfake. 

I would strongly recommend that you use the resources on this site and undertake a similar process when evaluating stainless steel Constellations. From time to time there are some fantastic Connies on eBay amongst the many fakes and frankens....the trick is to be able to build up enough knowledge and expertise to tell the difference.

It was good to see that this seller pulled the listing. He wrote to me saying,amongst other things, "First off, it has been pulled from auction until I can check the veracity of this information as I NO WAY wish to sell something that is NOT RIGHT."

Good, and you confirmed that by pulling the listing.

He goes on, "Secondly, the description, from inception, declared that the dial was 'restored' - So please STOP making erroneous remarks that have NO justification."

May be, but unless you speak English as a second language, you will notice that the direction of my argument was leading towards the dial potentially being a fake rather than refinished.

"Thirdly," newbiggen says that he attempted to email me and that I have a fake email. Strange but, how come I receive literally tens and tens of emails per week from blog subscribers on that email address?

Newbiggen continues, "(A)lso it may have been common courtesy for this person (that's me) to inform me of his assumptions and also to clear copyright on my photography - neither of which he did"

I do not have an obligation to you to do assessments on the watches you sell. My obligation is to the readers of this blog who seek to to build their knowledge about Omega Constellations. And, there are some riders on copyright, such as using a limited portion of a resource for educational purposes - in this case to assist in the education of novice buyers, so they dont get landed with the franken watch you listed as A++, when it wasnt A++ at all.

Newbiggen added "This blogger's snide and arrogant assertions are exactly that and are designed, I suspect to massage his own overbearing ego"

Nice little ad homimen side-attack, but it doesn't detract readers' attentions away from the fact that you listed a dog that does NOT fit factory specifications for this model, and, as such, is only worth what it could fetch for parts. Everyone has an ego, otherwise humans wouldn't survive, but, in this case, it isn't ego that drives me - it's empathy for those poor devils who fall for such listings and then discover they have something that isn't collectible.

More from newbiggen, "Also, I described the watch in exact detail; if I were trying to hide anything knowingly I do not believe I would have gone down that route - I repeat, nothing contained within the description was revised other than I noted that I am away on business and would not be able to post the watch until the Wednesday following the auction"

First note my "advertently or inadvertently" rider. But, the above comments get to the nitty gritty of a common modus operandi on eBay - throw up the pics, describe 'literally' what's on offer, thus placing the entire onus to determine the authenticity of the watch on the buyer. Well, even U.K. consumer law does not overlook this practice of 'ommission' and requires a seller to 'accurately' describe the merchandise they are selling. Under U.K. law you would be required to refund the purchase price of this watch because it is INACCURATELY described.

An ACCURATE description of this watch would have included remarks about it not fitting the specifications for a calibre 561 powered watch and would have noted, actually, that the movement should probably be sitting in a case with a caseback number 14902.

Finally newbiggen says, "I don't expect an apology, I suspect I'd have to wait an awful long time."

My response is, I am happy to live up to your expectations!

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  1. Great work, Desmond. One can only hope that people use the excellent knowledge you are providing (in form of essays) to build up their own knowledge base and be able to spot Frankenwatches. Note however that in the auction, the seller mentions "DIAL: Superb beautifully restored silver cross hair dial in mint condition" This alone would put me on alert. Cheers

  2. Thanks for your comments. I share your sentiments :)

    Hmm... this listing was updated on April 21 and I believe there was no reference to 'Superb beautifully restored dial' when the listing first came out. The eBay log reveals that the 'Description' was revised.

    The Omega symbol on the dial looks a tad more than beautifully restored though :) I would love to see high res pics, but I also feel the markers are painted and not hosting onyx inserts.

    Agree there are quite a few red alerts eh?



  3. Desmond, as a long time reader and occasional respondant on your Blog, please feel free to continue to post your "snide and arrogant assertions" and we will continue to appreciate them :)



  4. Hehe

    Thankyou Chris.

    I probably do exceed my own boundaries from time to time, but who else is to do the work? :)

    Cheers Desmond

  5. gatorcpa5:40 am

    Des -

    When fakers get flustered and upset like must be doing something right!

    Take care,

  6. Yes Evan, I find usually that those who protest the loudest are most often those who have the most to be ashamed of.

    Usual denial and displacement stuff where I become the anti-christ for pointing out their deceptions - like the Indonesian seller who put a hex on me!

    Although, I'm pleased to say that my chickens are still laying and my goats do not have foot rot :)



  7. Cut me some slack here guys - I made a mistake and hadn't checked the watch out fully as I should have before listing - Much as you may like to believe I'm 'The Prince of Darkness'I can assure you I am not.

  8. Slack herewith cut :)

    As I said, you withdrew the listing which was the absolute right and proper thing to do.

    Agree, you are not the Prince of Darkness. While it's a largely ceremonial title these days, there are many, many purveyors of frankenwatches and downright fakes who have much more call on the title than you.



  9. Anonymous7:41 am

    Hello Desmond. Thank you for another great post. Your articles are a great resource and I'm learning a lot about vintage Constellations on my journey after aquiring my (genuine)stainless steel Cal 561, so this article is pertinent. Your last few posts certainly bring to mind a famous Chinese proverb with regard to false advertising... "hanging up the sheeps head and selling dog meat"! Keep up the good work, Brad

  10. Thanks for your kind words Brad

    And I love that proverb!

    Good luck in your search - you're certainly going about it the right way



  11. Dan Schneider12:38 am

    Hello Desmond.
    Your blog is so helpful to me.
    Today I spotted a similar fake on a Swiss platform:
    Let's have a look how he reacts.
    Thanks a lot for educating me in Constellation expertise.
    Dan from Switzerland

  12. Thanks Dan.

    You're absolutely right - it is indeed a fake. Theyre everywhere!

    It is becoming a real problem, because with so many fake vintage Connies there may be some impact on the market.



  13. Hi Des,

    Wondering if you know, are the hands on these models with onyx hour inlays also filled with onyx?

    Thank you

    1. Hi, Usually just with a black painted inlay.