Omega 1953 RAF “Fat Arrow” Pilots Wristwatch
At the beginning of 1952, amid 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.
These 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 They were originally made to be waterproof and the 283 calibre shockproof movement was finished in rose gold.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 anti-magnetic. This ensured that the aircraft’s instruments did not affect the watch’s 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”.
A video regarding the history of the watch and its service by the renowned horologist and Omega specialist, Simon Freese, can be viewed here on our YouTube channel.
Due to the relatively small number produced, good examples of these Omega 53 watches are becoming rarer and increasingly harder to find.
The watch for sale was acquired from a family in the North of England and was purportedly the former property of an RAF Wing Commander.