Extremely rare Omega 1953 RAF “Thin Arrow” Pilots Watch
At the beginning of 1952, in the midst of the Cold War and ongoing hostilities in Korea, The British Air Ministry ordered 5,900 wristwatches from its long-standing London supplier, Goldsmiths & Silversmiths Ltd. They, in turn, contracted Omega to manufacture the watches to the precise specification of the Air Ministry. The original order was issued to Omega on 27 June 1952 and delivery of the watches was to be made in May 1953.
The Omega Thin Arrow watches were designed and manufactured to a very high standard. They were originally made to be waterproof and the 283 calibre shockproof movement was finished in rose gold. The inner casing was constructed from soft iron to make the watch antimagnetic. This ensured that the aircraft’s instruments did not affect the watches crucial performance during flight operations.
Interestingly, these watches were originally issued with “Thin Arrow” radium dials. However, these were considered too dangerous by the MOD when stockpiled and they were therefore recalled and redialled with safer Tritium “Fat Arrow” dials.
It is believed only around 5,900 of these watches were ever manufactured and issued to the RAF in May 1953. Consequently, they are rather appropriately referred to today as the “53 Omegas”.
Due to the majority of the original radium dials having been replaced by the MOD, it is thought that only a few hundred or so Omega Thin Arrow examples still survive. Many of these are often found in a poor state of repair. As such, good unrestored and original examples are extremely scarce and are often very difficult to find.