Value Prop: RAF-Issued British Military Omega 6B/542
I am not a pedant, but I must admit that the recent Bond Seamaster rubbed me the wrong way. To many watch collectors, myself included, the MoD broad arrow symbol is a bit sacred. Seeing a commercialized movie prop given that marking by Omega themselves seemed to me uncomfortably close to the watch equivalent of stolen valor. Particular when Omega’s own military past is rich, immensely so. For less than half of that Seamaster’s ask, it is possible to own a watch which served under the RAF in 1953 and lives to tell the tale.
The post-WWII 6B series of three-handers were built to government specification to be highly accurate, water resistant, and anti-magnetic for aviators and navigators specifically. The order from Omega totaled to 5900 examples and were produced over the course of one year. Initially, the order was created and sent to JLC, IWC, Smiths, Hamilton, and Omega. All 36mm steel, fixed spring bars, iron Faraday cages, and iron dial plate. But the Omegas have one detail which set them apart.
Early Omega 6Bs were lumed with radium. The MoD later asked Omega to recall those early production examples and send back tritium replacement dial and hands. The replacement tritium dials Omega sent back featured what collectors call the ‘Fat Arrow’, as the sacred government property broad arrow was printed more boldly alongside a circled T to mark tritium use. The 6B series are increasingly collected for their value, simple charm, and purposeful aesthetic.
This example sports a full case with moderate wear as one would hope from a watch like this. The dial and handset are remarkably well-preserved, with full tritium plots only beginning to age. All printed tracks and scripts are clear. Same may be said for the all-important military back engravings, correct. It comes as a naked watch from a well regarded London retailer.
Find this 6B/542 here from Watches of Knightsbridge for 4200 USD.