Bonhams screwed the pooch with Making Waves: Seiko. Internet experts browsing the online auction catalogue found an unhealthy selection of “Frankenwatches” (modified Seikos). Bonhams pulled the sale temporarily to “upload the condition reports accompanying each lot.” Bonhams fake Seikos are back online. Once again, fratello.com nails it . . .
The Bonhams Seiko Auction contains a silver-dialed “Daini-produced” (that’s Japanese for “second”) 5126-8130 Rally Diver. The lot 708 condition report calls out an aftermarket bezel insert. However, I don’t see a mention of the hands, which are incorrect for this model. They should have black stripes running through their centers. The listed range of $320 – 650, makes this unadvisable.
Unadvisable? Fratello’s Michael Stockton – “I’m still a little frustrated with this auction as a Seiko fan” – is too kind.
Bonhams’ bad behavior is nothing less than a travesty. Worse. A scam. A deception that was uncovered, unacknowledged (by its proponents) and now we learn, at least partially uncorrected.
Here’s another one of Mr. Stockton’s exposés:
Like all auctions, the Bonhams Seiko Auction has a catalog cover piece. It’s the ultra rare 5718-6000 as Lot 717. This watch was produced in 1964 and sold during the Tokyo Summer Olympics. Some estimate that only 50 or so were made. Aside from the visible tachymeter ring damage, the hour and minute hands are incorrect for the reference.
These look the part to a large degree, but the correct hands have different tips and the minutes hand does not extend into the minutes ring. The case shows evidence of polishing and the case back logo is still certainly visible.
Mr. Stockton also reveals lot 726 (top of this post) as woefully inauthentic, cursed with “a non original bezel and red hands . . . the dial also looks to be aftermarket. The ‘Speedtimer’ font should not be in white.”
These three watches raise uncomfortable questions: which other Seikos are Frankenwatches? How can you trust any of them now? And how stupid is Bonhams?
This is possibly the worst/best example of bad crisis management I’ve come across since Domino’s YouTube scandal.
The woman at the sharp end of this ongoing debacle: Bonhams HK-based watch specialist Sharon Chan. Her bio reveals . . .
In 2017-2018, before returning to the auction business and joining Bonhams, Ms. Chan expanded her professional career and operated a private watch business and client consultancy. With her extensive watch experience, she possesses strong connections with collectors around the world and plays an important role in expanding the watch market in Asia.
Not only should this auction be permanently removed and a public apology extended, Bonhams should make Ms. Chan accountable and investigate any and all transactions made under her aegis.
I’m talking about a free authenticity check on any and all watches purchased from Bonhams that had anything to do with Ms. Chan.
Bonhams should issue a full refund for any timepiece exposed as “modified” or in any way misrepresented. Keep in mind that Bonhams terms and conditions specifically state that it’s not responsible for the authenticity of its watches:
7. All statements contained in the catalog or in any bill of sale, condition report, invoice or elsewhere as to authorship, period, culture, source, origin, measurement, quality, rarity, provenance, importance, exhibition and literature of historical relevance, or physical condition ARE QUALIFIED STATEMENTS OF OPINION AND NOT REPRESENTATIONS OR WARRANTIES.
Bonhams’ fake Seikos cast doubt on the auction house’s integrity. Until such time as Bonhams cleans house over this debacle, you are advised to avoid purchasing watches from them. That is all.