Omega Flightmaster
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Omega Flightmaster

Though the Omega Speedmaster is perhaps known best for its use in all manned space missions, it was not by any means Omega’s first pilot’s watch.

That honor goes to the Flightmaster, whose distinctive looks have been marking time for aviators since 1969.

1969 was a year of interesting developments, particularly for Omega. While brands like Heuer, Breitling, and Hamilton competed against Zenith and Seiko to develop an automatic chronograph movement, an Omega Speedmaster was carried to the moon. Since a Speedmaster had already gone farther than any watch ever worn or made by man, Omega could very well have stopped there.

But the 1960s were a decade marked by economic expansion. People had more leisure time, and with the advent of jet travel, they took to the skies in record numbers. Not everyone could go to the Moon, but flying from Boston to Rio was certainly well within the capabilities of the Jet Set.

Many of these Jet Setters took flight in DC-8 jetliners built by the Douglas Aircraft Company. Meant as a competitor to the Boeing 707, the DC-8 (used mainly by United Airlines and Delta) had a strong start in its 1959 debut. But by 1962 sales of the DC-8 had dropped to 26 units sold that year.

So in 1965, Douglas released three new models with larger fuselages. Dubbed the “Super Sixties,” these jetliners were able to carry more passengers than any other aircraft operated by a commercial airline. The DC-8 became nothing short of iconic in the minds of those who flew in it.

It’s this aircraft that adorns the case back of the Flightmaster.

Tool chronographs were just emerging, and as far as flight was concerned, the leader in that field was Breitling. Not to be outdone, Omega set out to design and market a chronograph to “pilot types.” It would be distinctive, like nothing else available on the market, and the jetliner on the case back would drive home the fact that this was a watch that was meant to fly.

Omega adapted the Calibre .861 of the Reference 145.022 Speedmaster, adding a GMT hand to create the Calibre 911. Thus, the Flightmaster had the familiar triple register dial layout of the Speedmaster. But Omega punctuated it with a checkered chapter ring and made the hands in the 30 minute and hour counters—as well as the sweeping chronograph hand—a vibrant orange. These hands were also offered in yellow for pilots who worked in cabins that were lit with infa-red light. The GMT hand was a bright blue, so that the pilot would be able to take readings at a glance.

And all of this was housed in a large, distinctive case whose hidden lugs made it wear smaller on the wrist. The watch featured the crown and pushers typical of all chronographs, on its usual right-hand side of the case. But the left was dominated by twin crowns, the top to adjust the GMT hand and the bottom to rotate the inner bezel.

The vibrant color-scheme of the dial is even echoed in the crowns, which are color-coded for maximum efficiency.

This particular Flightmaster is blessedly free from the signs of hard wear that mar many examples that come up on the market. The dial is as vibrant as ever, with just the right amount of patina to the luminescent elements. Whether you’re a Jetsetter or just want a super cool watch, the Flightmaster has that in spades.

Details

SKU: AS02358

Steel cushion case is approximately 43mm (excluding crowns and pushers). Reference 145.036. Calibre 911 Manually-Wound Chronograph Movement.

Overall Condition: Case is in very good condition with signs of moderate use and wear. Lug has "10-10-75" hand-engraved. Dial is in very good condition with crisp printing and some signs of age. Signed crowns.

Includes one 22mm black fabric strap.

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