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Old 19 March 2012, 06:09 AM   #17
"TRF" Member
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Cali
Posts: 152
Dredging up this old thread for a quick epilogue. If you recall my original question, it was perhaps a bit unfair because I was relying on the representations of the sellers. The correct answers (ie identification based on what I thought I was buying) are:

A) T19 superdome (used)
B) aftermarket from Otto Frei
C) T19 superdome (used)
D) T19 dome (NOS)
E) aftermarket from Clark (ebay)

I now believe that the correct classifications are possibly:
A) T19 superdome (well polished)
B) aftermarket from Otto Frei
C) T19 regular dome or polished superdome
D) T19 superdome
E) aftermarket from Clark (ebay)

In January I had the guys at ABC Watchwerks service my 5513 and install crystal "D". It passed a full pressure test (5-bar) and they agree it looks, feels and quacks a superdome. Good enough for me although frankly I'll never really be sure. Which highlights the difficulty in finding the real thing:
  • very very few people seem to be able to reliably ID a real superdome. Lacking an expert, the "tells" I heard about were unreliable (tree rings, toroids, microscopic layering, etc.)
  • the best indicator is probably shape...but then you need a real live superdome to compare. What may seem like a superdome in comparison to pictures may not be when you compare it to a real one side-by-side (that happened to me with "C"). The problem is the perceived profile changes meaningfully based on the angle you are looking at, so pictures can be misleading. The aftermarkets I bought were not accurate in this regard -- but perhaps there are better ones out there
  • the last point is complicated by the fact that legit crystals can be polished, and, over the years can lose their shape. This is likely the case with "A" -- I tracked the crystal through a couple owners to what I believe was the original Tudor it came on. Even if it was once a true superdome, look at it now. If you are buying used, this means you cannot go 100% based on the reference pictures
  • the aftermarket crystals (at least the two I have experience with) do tend to be more optically clear than the originals (note the apparent transparency of "B" in the photo)
  • I tend to agree that the vast majority of T19s sold as superdomes are not genuine (no reflection on the sellers in many cases given how many of these are sold and resold but regardless, be wary!). I would not trust the green paper packets either as its too easy to repackage loose crystals in one...look for one in a sealed plastic bag.

My superdome installed:
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