Enough history and mythos surrounds Omega’s tool watches to fill numerous books. In fact, much of it already does. Mainly, attention is centered on the manufacture’s sports watches. Take for example the Speedmaster, which conjures a vision of Ed White stepping out into the void of space, his Speedmaster ticking away the seconds of his legendary walk; or the Seamaster “Big Triangle” on the wrist of a combat diver as he sinks into the silent depths.
But Omega’s reputation was not earned by those watches alone, nor does it rest on the laurels of an association to legendary figures.
Omega’s history of excellence lies in watches like this one, which marked time for decades before man dreamt of taking to the stars or slipping below the waves. Two or three hands, and nothing more, had been Omega’s raison d’être since its foundation in 1848. In this area they excelled, securing military contracts as early as the First World War.
It was during the Second World War that Omega truly came to the fore. Omega was one of twelve watch companies that were awarded a contract by the British Ministry of Defense. Often referred to as the “Dirty Dozen,” these twelve companies—Omega among them—produced an identical watch, known for its spartan black dial with luminous Arabic numerals and sub-seconds at six o’clock.
Omega’s contribution to the Dirty Dozen was powered by the Calibre 30T2. Conceived in the 1930s by Omega’s Assistant Technical Director, Harry Kneuss, and Jean-Pierre Mathey Claudet, the manufacture’s master watchmaker, the 30T2’s simplicity was belied by its reliability. Kneuss and Claudet envisioned a watch whose humble diameter (30mm, in this case) concealed a large barrel and a small escapement.
The movement did its job so well that it—and its successors—remained a mainstay in Omega’s production until the 1960s. Although the majority of examples were fitted into military watches like the Dirty Dozen, Omega’s civilian clientele were by no means neglected. But the war scarred both man and machine, and the taste for the elaborate Art Deco designs that flourished in the 1930s was lost.
Minted in the waning years of the war, this watch maintains the clean lines of its military predecessors, down to the radium on the dial. Elegant and unassuming, it nevertheless manages to captivate the wearer. No astronaut or frogman wore it, but to us it’s just as worthy of praise as any Speedmaster or Seamaster. But don't take our word for it.
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