‘Tropical’ Speedmaster 2915-1 – A Record-Breaking OmeGaga At Phillips

In November 2021, an early Omega Speedmaster Ref. 2915-1 ‘Broad Arrow’ featuring a stunning tropical dial went supersonic at a Phillips auction in Geneva, reaching a face-distorting G-force of CHF 3,115,500 incl. buyer’s premium. An absolute record for an Omega. The previous record-breaking Speedmaster had “only” fetched CHF 408,500. As with many of the multi-million dollar lots gaveled by top auctioneer Aurel Bacs, the watch is an assemblage, a Frankenstein watch that did not leave the Omega factory like that. Short after the auction, the breaking parachute kicked rapidly in after pictures of the watch surfaced in Omega circles, showing it with greenish lume, different hands, different bezel and a much later movement. People in the know were scared as rumours had made the rounds that the individuals involved were supposedly members of a potentially violent gipsy clan. An ideal case for Perezcope I would say.

Lot 53 – Omega Speedmaster Ref. 2915-1, 15500066

In November 2021, an early Speedmaster with spectacular ‘tropical’ dial was offered at Phillips in Geneva. While the watch face was truly striking, the body of the watch – the case – was not. With mirror polished and rounded lugs, the watch was far from perfect. Also, the lume on the hands looked weird, too grainy, probably relumed.

Auction link: Lot 53 – Omega Speedmaster Ref. 2915-1, ‘Tropical’ dial (Phillips)

Lot 53 – Omega Speedmaster 15500066 (Photo: Phillips)

An interesting observation is that Phillips listed the wrong serial number in their catalogue on/offline. Instead of 15500066, they wrote 15500006.

A few days after the sale, I received the following pictures which showed the very same dial combined with different components, most notably the tachymeter bezel and the ‘Broad Arrow’ hands. The lume on the dial was strange as it had a bright ‘greenish’ colour as opposed to the “attractive golden tone” praised in Phillips’ catalogue.

Condition prior to auction

The movement was from a much later ‘Speedy’ or possibly a different Omega chronograph model altogether. Due to the low quality of the picture, the movement serial number is difficult to decipher but it appears to be 25005330 or somehting like that. In any case not period correct by any stretch of the imagination. Since Omega did not work with case numbers at the time, it is difficult to assess whether the case was the same or not.

Calber 321 with serial number 25005330 (?)

The inside of the caseback was stamped with reference number 2915-1. Early Speedmasters are pretty rare. One of the reasons could be that since they were of such poor build quality, most people simple threw them away.

Movement and inside of the caseback

Included was also a picture the back of the watch showing the early Speedmaster logo and the famous Seahorse or ‘Hippocampus’ from Greek mythology. The latter, however, was a clear indication that at least the caseback was not from the earliest batch but from a model from movement numbers 16.6 million onwards.

Back of the watch

The trained eye can already see what this watch was all about. A project watch, assembled from bits and pieces found here and there, at least that is the way I see it. Sure, the dial is exceptional but did the tropical patina occur naturally? The “milk-chocolate shade” is too even for my liking. Tropical Speedmaster dials which in my opinion have developed a natural patina feature lots of ‘freckles’. The comparison below gives you an idea of what I mean. Also, check the hand on the Phillips watch (left). In my opinion, that is not natural patina and certainly not consistent with other early pieces.

Comparison ‘tropical’ dials even vs. freckled

The dial on the right-hand side belongs to a 2915-2 made for the Fuerza Aérea del Perú (Peruvian Airforce) in 1959. The watch sold for a more realistic price of almost Euro 200k at another auction house in 2019 and is now part of the collection of the WatchGuru. Anyway, whether dial an hands patina are real or not is minor in the ‘grand scheme of things’ regarding this particular watch. Let’s now take a closer look at the dial and see how it compares, shall we?

Dial And Lume

The following comparison of the dial shows several matching blemishes, the most obvious one being the long scratch within the 12 hours subdial.

Comparison dials

All lumed hour markers are identical in shape and feature the very same dark spots. With so many matching points, there can be no doubt this is one and the same dial.

Comparison lumed hour markers

While the body of lume was essentially retained, the initial ‘greenish’ colour of the lume, which could be an indication that the dial had been relumed at some point – or – perhaps a side effect of an artificial ‘tropicalization’ of the dial ?, was obviously darkened to achieve a more “attractive golden tone”.

Comparison lumed hour markers

Now that it has been established that the dial is one and the same let’s take a closer look at the bezel.

Tachymeter Bezel

As mentioned earlier, the tachymeter bezels are different. A quick search in my extensive database revealed that the current bezel was taken from a later Speedmaster ‘Broad Arrow’ Ref. 2915-2 with movement number 16648304, auctioned by – suprise, surprise – Phillips Geneva in November 2018.

Auction link: Lot 114 – Omega Speedmaster Ref. 2915-2 (Phillips)

The following two comparisons prove this observation to be a fact.

Comparison tachymeter bezel

More matching dents and scratches. There can be no doubt that this is one and the same bezel.

Comparison tachymeter bezel

It is interesting how these watches seem to always end up in the same hands.


A comparison of details found on the exterior of the caseback shows that it was retained.

Comparison caseback

The back of the case is mirror-polished as well. It is impossible to assess whether the case was retained as well or if this is a different case. What can be assessed to 100% is that the ‘Hippocampus’ or Seahorse on Speedmaster casebacks was only introduced with movement numbers 16.6 million. Clearly the caseback cannot be period-correct to movement number 15500066.

Back of the watch (Photo: Phillips)

Since the caseback is the same, it can be assumed the case was kept as well.


Today, the watch features a much earlier movement (or movement number) and comes with an ‘Extract from the Archives’ issued by the Omega Heritage Department. Since only movement serial numbers were recorded in the archives during the period in which these watches were made, the extract is meaningless as it only relates to the movement number. It is also important to understand that these extracts do not attest in any way to the authenticity of the watches or any of their components which is explicitly stated on each such document.

Omega Speedmaster 2915-1 with Omega Certificate of Authenticity (Photo: Phillips)

Yes, the parts may be original but as we have learned, this “grail” was not born like this. Nobody knows what happened to the original watch with movement serial number 15500066 which was sold on November 2, 1957. The present watch is certainly not it. The shortcomings of Omega’s archival system are in full display here. It is also interesting to note that the person responsible for issuing this certificate resigned only days after the auction. According to information received, that person had been working for a longer period of time hand in hand with the seller of this watch, issuing a number of highly contested certificates to said dealer. Basically, if you have an insider in the archives, you get exclusive access to movement numbers used for certain prototypes. If you just so happen to have a prototype dial, creating the rest is a walk in the park.

Update June 2, 2023:
According to reporting in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, one of the largest Swiss newspapers, Omega investigated this case and found evidence that three former employees with criminal intentions were involved in this operation. The three confessed to having acted fraudulently and criminally. Omega examined the serial number engravings 15500066 featured on the movement and established they are fake. The movement is still the same later caliber but the fakers replaced the original escapement wheel bridge bearing the 25 million number with a fake part featuring the number obtained through the archives.

Link to article: “Kriminell und betrügerisch”: Wie aus einer alten, zusammengebastelten Omega Uhr eine 3-Millionen-Franken-Rarität wurde (NZZ.ch)

You can find a translation of the article on the Omega Forum:
Link: Phillips auction Speedmaster – a 3.000.000-fake? (Omegaforums.net)


The record-breaking sale of this ‘Cheatmaster’ took the watch collecting world by surprise. Nobody expected this lot to break through the one million dollar barrier, let alone three. How it happened is not much of a mystery actually. My understanding is that the watch specialists at Phillips had ‘groomed’ a very wealthy collector from Mainland China known as ‘Ghost’ months in advance and once a certain price level was reached, the guy got into a bidding frenzy. I know for a fact that the Omega Museum was bidding on this thing as well but they dropped out at around 600k. Omega is trying to elevate the brand in the same way Patek Philippe did in the early 2000s when the Genevean luxury watchmaker acquired watches at auction to create their museum.

As so often with auction lots, the consignors are actually watch dealers. With a vested interest in ever raising prices, they will bid on their own lots, through dealer friends or other means. It is a fabricated hype in which auction houses are naturally complicit.

After receiving pictures of the watch in its previous condition, I contacted Aurel Bacs to give him a heads up on a possible exposé. At the time, I was still helping Phillips with the authentication of certain watches and bound by my sense for loyalty. Bacs never replied to my message.

Update April 15, 2023
The more I think about it, the less the official story makes any sense. No seasoned collector would pay six or more times the amount of money a watch is worth (if it was legit that is). This sale was probably not about a watch but something else entirely.

There are more multi-million dollar ‘legends of the fall’ sold at Phillips whose true nature needs to come to light.

Thank you for your interest.


  • Great and informative article. What happened to the buyer? Was he informed and did he get a huge refund back from Phillips?


  • Before comparing colors across the two photos, you should white balance both photos using a common reference point like the grey color of the bezel’s steel.
    Your reference photo has a very obvious bluish tint in its whites, and was clearly taken under a very different temperature light than the Phillips photo.
    Only once both are properly balanced against the same color reference can you actually compare the colors of the other elements in them, like the hands.
    Case in point, the lume on the markers in both photos is clearly the same, and so should be its basic color in both photos. The difference you see above (the greenish tint that you are referring ro) is due to the different color balances of the photos, not to the state of the dial at the two times the photos were taken.


  • Wonderful work. It’s a shame these cases happen in such a frequent matter. Keep on busting fraudulent authenticity-workers and auction houses.


  • There’s a new meaning of authenticity made similar but not same. #moneybeforeintegrity


  • It’s a jungle out there and mostly care about squeezing dollars out of any piece. This story is amazing not only for the individual (insider in the archive, dealer, auction house and some skilled with master dial tanning artisan) but because Phillips positioned itself as the top dog in auctioning the rarest pieces and only to be able to pull these tricks?

    And for all the watch new sites working hand in hand with Phillips to pump rarity and relative storie, are they complicit?

    Comunque ottimo lavoro. Continua così.


  • Great read! Love your articles and am always happy when you post a new fraud.

    No secret that the mainland Chinese – since the anointment of Emperor Xi Jinping – are looking for ways to get their money abroad ASAP. Real estate is and always has been very popular but collectible watches have definitely become a thing (along with art, of course) in more recent years as evidenced by someone paying this kind of crazy money for an Omega chronograph (never would have happened ten years ago).

    Additionally, the lack of Rolex available in the world is very much attributable to the sudden mainland China interest in the brand as a secure way to park money without significant depreciation (they hope). Ten years ago Rolex were considered gauche and mainly owned by middle class social climbers from Guangdong/Hong Kong. Any loaded guy worth his weight from the north or Shanghai area was after Patek, VC, Lange and maybe (by a stretch) AP. Now Rolex steel “professional” hype has taken over there as well as the respectable independents with FOMO setting in.


  • Here we go again, quite frankly i would not trust any auction house (and ive had dealings with a few)! Its a sad world, but my view is never spend large amounts of money (£5k+) on a watch unless it has a cast iron provenance (ie being sold by its original owner) or its brand new ,expect to be conned by auction houses and you will not be disappointed! Well done Jose i bet you are popular with the con men at the main auction houses! Buyer beware i admit to having little sympathy with the buyer!


  • Another great rabbit hole exposed Jose. I hope the buyer was/is made whole on this and the auction house has to foot the bill.


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