In the midst of the Cold War in 1952, the Royal Air Force ordered 5900 wristwatches from its long-standing London supplier, Goldsmiths & Silversmiths.
Omega was contracted to make the watches to precise specifications, including a soft iron antimagnetic case to ensure the aircraft’s instruments did not affect performance, and a 283-calibre shockproof movement.
Of the 5900 that were delivered in May 1953, only a few hundred ‘Thin Arrow’ examples survive after the MOD asked Omega to replace the radium dial with a safer Tritium ‘Fat Arrow’ dial. This example above, bearing the thin military arrow to the lower centre, is estimated at £1000-1500 in a July 21 sale at Bishop and Miller in Stowmarket, Suffolk.
The 1940s was an eventful time for Breitling. Not only was it granted the patent for the Chronomat, that allowed the wearer to compute elementary operations such as multiplication and division (effectively making it the smartwatch of its time), the decade was also marked by the launch of its popular ‘Premier’ line c.1943.
These were for civil, non-military use, relying less on innovation and more on elegance and attention to detail.
A working 1940s gold ‘Premier’ chronograph, with reference number 778, will be offered at Roseberys London on July 17 estimated at £1000-1500.