Posted on July 29 2020
Omega Flightmaster Chronograph GMTs:
(Click on the watch name below to go to the listing)
- Caliber 910 - Reference 145.013 (pictured above)
- Caliber 911 - Reference 145.026
- Caliber 911 - Reference 145.036
A brand loved by most with even the faintest interest in watches, Omega’s success as a watchmaker didn’t take shape overnight. They’ve been the official timekeeper at 21 Olympic games, their Speedmaster is known as the ‘moonwatch’ after astronauts insisted on wearing it for space travel, and they now develop their own co-axial movements entirely in-house. It was their consistently jaw-dropping series of watch unveilings, however, which earned them their place today. Though the ‘Moonwatch’ often steals headlines, the manufacturer came into their own once more having learnt from their strengths and weaknesses with the Speedmaster, releasing the Flightmaster in 1969. Omega’s Flightmaster Chronograph GMT was clearly designed for those inclined towards the skies. Worn by pilots, cosmonauts and cabin crews alike (including those onboard British Airways’ Concorde fleet), it wasn’t long before the Flightmaster’s name had also been etched into the annals of watchmaking history.
The first model of the Flightmaster (145.013) is often simply referred to as the ‘910’; it was the only reference of the three to house a Caliber 910 movement, originally based on the Omega 860 movement, in turn based on the Lemania 1873. Often seen as the ‘original’ Flightmaster, it stood out from the other two iterations in terms of its looks too: most notably on the dial with its green/black 24hr AM/PM indicator at 9:00. Starting with the Flightmaster 145.026 and carrying the change into the final Flightmaster 145.036, Omega replaced the colourful green/black dial with a continuous seconds hand. This meant that it was much easier to tell if the watch was currently ticking, a feature lacking with the comparatively static AM/PM sub-register. In terms of the watch’s desirability nowadays, however, this change has seemingly had the opposite effect, in that many collectors now prefer the colourful originality of the 910, further drawn to it by the uniqueness of it lacking a continuous seconds hand.
Above: The vivid green/black AM/PM indicator at 9:00 on the Caliber 910 (145.013).
Above: The continuous seconds sub-register at 9:00 on the Caliber 911 (145.036).
The images above reveal another key difference between the 910 and the 911 dials: the colour of them. Both watches were produced in 1970 and both still house the original dials, yet there looks to be a half century between them in terms of ageing. The original dials of the 910 (145.013) have shown a tendency to gently darken from their original charcoal grey, the same colour as the 145.026/.036, to a golden, chocolate-coloured tropical patina. This is the colour most vintage watch collectors dream of; an even, crisp tone with a warmth and depth of character. The 911 variations, on the other hand, have impressively retained their original charcoal grey in its entirety - indeed this example has hardly changed since manufactured.
Above: The Cal.911/145.036 is impressively true to its original state, signs of wear are difficult to detect and UV ageing is also distinctly lacking.
Another key difference between the 910 and the two 911s is the case size – both 911 references sit visibly prouder on the wrist than the 910 thanks to a chunkier case. Clearly then, the two 911 variations (145.026 & 145.036) share more in common than with the 910, but side by side they are also undoubtedly different.
The vivid chronograph hands and the dial colour are what set the two 911s apart. The 145.026 is above and the 145.036 is below.
There are only two variations between the two caliber 911s (besides the different reference numbers), and both are minor aesthetic differences to the dial. The 145.026 bears vivid red chronograph hands, excluding the continuous seconds hand at 9:00, differing from the later 145.036 which replaced the red hands with solid yellow.
We've noticed uncertainty on forums and blogs around when production of the different variations started and finished. Our serial number dating suggests to us that the 910 iteration was only in production for one year (starting in 1969, ending 1970), that the 911 - 145.026 was a transition model which also ran for only a year until 1971, and that the 911 - 145.036 ran from 1971 until production finished in 1972. This makes each watch in and of itself a rarity, particularly the earlier two, but to have all three side by side is quite the feat (if we may say so ourselves).
Though the differences are minor, we genuinely believe that they give the watches completely new identities, serving to remind us just how powerful small aesthetic changes are when looking at a watch face. The 910, for example, looks and feels like a vintage watch, clearly lifted from another time period with its chocolate tones and retro green/black dial split. The 145.026 - 911 is sharp, vivid and clean in its look, cutting stark contrasts between the darker and lighter tones within the dial. Comparatively, the 145.036 - 911 is brighter, more subtle and layered in its composition. All are bold, bright and chunky Chronograph GMTs sold and traded interchangeably, but having them up close like this really highlights the differences, and has made us look at this wonderful watch in a different light. Having consulted Chronomaddox, Watchuseek and Worn & Wound, we believe it’s potentially a first (at the very least an extremely rare event) that we have all three Flightmaster variants in such good condition side by side.
They’re on the front page of our website if you’d like more details, or there is a clickable link to each watch at the top of the article!