Omega 1953 'Thin Arrow' RAF-Issued Pilot's watch - Ref. 2777-1 SC - 6645 - 101000 6B/542
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Omega 1953 'Thin Arrow' RAF-Issued Pilot's watch - Ref. 2777-1 SC - NATO Numbers - 6645 - 101000 6B/542
If you know, you know. A serious collector's piece in fantastic, original condition.
In 1952, as the Cold war was intensifying across the globe, the Royal Air Force (RAF) commissioned around 5,900 pilot's watches for British military service. Housed in an anti-magnetic soft iron core, the watch became rare due to its limited production run, and rarer still for the fact that it was a one of very few chronometer-rated watches at the time, powered by the Caliber 283 shockproof movement. This makes the 53 'Thin Arrow' one of the only British military chronometers, and certainly one of the earliest.
Soon after the watch's release in May 1953, it was discovered that the original luminescent radium dials were unsafe when stored in large numbers: they were mildly radioactive. Whilst this would no longer be the case today, it was decided that the original radium dials (denoted here by the MOD 'Thin Arrow') would be replaced by safer tritium dials, with a 'Fat Arrow' to mark the newly lumed dial. We're therefore very grateful to be in possession of an original radium dial watch (now safe, don't worry!) which hasn't been tarnished by time or decay.
An initial production run of around 5,900 means that the number of watches which house the original dial, as this one does, is incredibly small, making this a watch of considerable rarity. Estimates range from fewer than 100 to a few hundred, but one thing's for sure: there aren't many of these surviving in such a condition today.
Here, the radium dial has aged perfectly: a rich, golden tobacco patina with no grey fading or dull tones. A simply stunning piece of watchmaking history, this dial has inherited deep vintage character and is wonderful to look at. The razor-thin central seconds hand still retains its white lustre, the fully-intact and sharp Arabic numerals have turned a mild cream tone, and the chapter ring still looks fresh. Typically of British military watches, the 53 'thin arrow' features fixed lug bars as an extra safety mechanism to prevent the watch strap detaching from the case under extreme stress or strain. Thankfully, this watch appears to have been spared from such forces.
The Omega signature and logo are sharp as ever, and are surrounded by the faint start of a tropical patination across the deep black dial. The hand lumes are particularly appealing to the eye: rich, almost orange and even in their tone. The case too survives excellently, scarcely any scratching or damage has occurred since its production in 1952. There are minor marks on some of the lugs, however the case back, and the bezel edges are all good and sharp, and that's about it. The case edges still have some of their original factory steel brushing visible!
What's on offer
An exceedingly rare and well-preserved 1953 Omega 'Thin Arrow' Ref. 2777-1 SC. The case back bears the engravings '/|\ 6645 - 101000 - 6B/542', denoting NATO recognition, and the 6B denoting RAF-Issue. The dial is amazingly preserved and in original condition to the extremely limited production run. The case does show some signs of wear, though these are insignificant and to be expected with a watch that is now 67 years old! It has recently received a professional inspection and service from renowned military watchmaker John Senior.
Case: Stainless steel, soft iron inner.
Dial: Black 'Thin Arrow' Radium dial.
Bracelet: NATO/Leather strap.
Movement type: Manual.
Condition: Excellent for age. 9/10.
Model reference number: 2777-1 SC / 101000-6B/542
Date / Year of issue: Cold war era, 1953.
Sold with a 12-month guarantee.
Width (without crown): 37mm
Height (lug to lug): 48mm
Lug width: 18mm
Wrist size: Adjustable.