Omega, the Swiss watchmaker, has revealed that three former employees were allegedly involved in a criminal scheme that resulted in the sale of a fake Omega Speedmaster watch for over $3 million at an auction. The alleged perpetrators reportedly assembled a 'Frankenstein' watch, composed of mostly genuine parts from other vintage watches. The scandal highlights the increasing concern over forgeries and alterations of vintage watches to push up their value at auction, which collectors pay millions for when in good condition with original parts.
The implicated employees include a former Omega Museum employee and its brand heritage department who worked with intermediaries to purchase the watch for the company. However, upon investigation, the Omega Museum found that the watch was a complex forgery that mixed components from different watches with possibly fabricated parts that the former employees may have dealt with. Omega alleges that the scheme was detrimental to the company and allowed the profiteers to justify the high bid they made through the intermediaries. Neither Omega nor Phillips, the auctioneer who consigned the watch, identified the former staffers involved in the alleged criminal activity.
Omega CEO Raynald Aeschlimann said that the scandal was 'to the massive detriment of Omega', and Phillip's representative vowed that if they found grounds for criminal prosecution after reviewing the evidence, they would have no hesitation in referring it to the authorities. Omega generates around half of Swatch Group's overall watch sales and is now one of the top three Swiss watchmakers by revenue, according to Morgan Stanley.