Israeli Air Force 165.014-64 Omega Seamaster 300
It’s 1965, you’re an Israeli, and you’re a fighter pilot. Lyndon B Johnson is increasing supply of serious military hardware to your country. Tension between Palestinian and Israeli interests are on a slow boil, you’re in a hot part of the world. The Suez Crisis, Six-Day War, War of Attrition, and Yom Kippur War are coming at you over the horizon, though you don’t know yet. You’ve been training in F-4E Phantom IIs and you’ve just graduated. This is exactly the story of this Seamaster 300, somewhat ironically awarded by the IDF to an Israeli Air Force fighter pilot after graduating from the training course in 1966. It is a fantastic watch, a derivative of the original Omega trilogy, but made exceptional by the specific life it has lived.
It’s easy to forget, but timekeeping was absolutely necessary in this era. Pilots needed to time time-to-target, strafing runs, or make fuel calculations with accurate time. This was not a luxury, but a tool used in operations. The IDF utilized a range of interesting watches for their pilots and special forces, but the majority of their orders were with Omega and Tudor, though you’ll also find Eterna Kontikis, Longines 12.68Z, Heuer 73363 Autavias, a Seiko 6309 or two. The great thing about the Omegas, though, is the extracts can confirm delivery to Israel, which is the case here. Not only that, but this watch is being offered from the pilot’s family to market for the first time today with box, guarantee papers, extract, and IAF medal, unpolished.
The watch itself is a 165.014, a transitional reference bridging the 2913 and well-known 165.024. In effect, it’s a 2913 with latter hands and a new reference number to meet the standard Omega was moving to. The bezel is still bakelite, and the lugs are straight (much like Speedmasters of the time). As the last straight-lug transitional reference, it’s a bit like the Ed White of the Seamaster line.
The dial and hands are aged in a manner than only the desert could create. There’s a burned-out, heat-oranged tinge to everything. Despite wear that certainly doesn’t look gentle, its bakelite bezel is not cracked, which is more often the case than not on these. The wear is exactly what you’d want of a pilot’s sidekick. Here at Hairspring, we’ve always loved watches which don’t shout to get attention, but remain humbly excellent. Concealed tourbillons, white metal Day-Dates, or rare retailer signatures. Awarded or issued military watches whose appearances mirror civilian models are absolutely of the same spirit. It’s a watch that looks like any other, but you know it’s been through hell and back. It’ll be just fine hiking around the Rockies. And it will probably do the same for your progeny as well.