Military issued timepieces are one of the coolest segments of the vintage watch world- that’s a fact.
The post-WWII “6B” watches are some of the finest three-hand military pieces ever made, and there’s a variety of them. The JLC and IWC Mark XIs are at the top of the heap, and Hamilton and Smiths models are on the more affordable side.
The Omega 6B/542 is the perfect model for the collector looking for one of the more desirable 6Bs without going too crazy. Mid-century Omega movements were made to a very high standard, and the Ministry of Defense requirements ensured that Omega built a tough, durable watch capable of performing in adverse conditions.
Omega built these watches for only about a year according the guidelines issued by British Ministry of Defense, which covered everything from the movement to the dial and hands. The case could not have any highly polished parts, and the movement had to be protected from magnetic fields. The dial had to be black with white numerals, the hour and minute hands had to be skeletonized and filled with lume, and the seconds hand has to be white. With such a detailed recipe, it’s easy to see why the JLCs, IWCs, Omegas, Smiths and Hamiltons look so similar.
The Omega “Fat Arrow” has an interesting bit of history regarding the dial, and it’s the source of the Fat Arrow nickname. These watches were original lumed with radium, but it proved to be so radioactive that the Royal Air Force insisted Omega recall the watches, before any airmen started to sprout new appendages. Omega swapped the radium dials for tritium replacements, and printed a fat white arrow to indicate the safer lume.
With its 36mm case, this 6B is a great size for modern wrists, and the RAF origins makes the watch a fantastic piece of military history. These watches have become wildly popular over the past few years and they’re harder to come by than ever. We’ve found a nice one, so don't miss it.
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