Archive for the 'Omega' Category

Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon (DSOM): 10 Questions

Saturday, November 1st, 2014

DSTOM COVER

QN1: What is this?

AN: It is an automatic self-winding wristwatch.

QN2: What does “Dark Side of the Moon” mean?

AN: It could refer to one of the following:-

i)      According to Wikipedia, the Dark side of the Moon refers to the side that is opposite to the Sun and which causes the phases of the Moon, e.g. New Moon, Half Moon etc., to appear from the perspective of the Earth;

FC

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ii)     The Dark Side of the Moon could also refer to a studio album released by Pink Floyd in 1973;

iii)   It could be an all-black wristwatch made and released by Omega during Baselworld 2013 when black wristwatches are already a little passe. (more…)

Vintage Bull: The Blood Sweat and Tears of an OLDmega

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

 

 

Vintage watches are cool because they were probably much harder to manufacture than stuff we buy nowadays. They weren’t kidding when they said blood, sweat and tears went into the manufacturing process! Just to clarify, a watch made in the 80s is not vintage, its just retro. Same applies for the stuff that got churned out in the 70s and the 60s; that’s just old. To be truly vintage you have to go back to a previous epoch when all watches were assembled by bleeding hands and child- slavery was the norm. Assembling a watch- movement then tended to be incredibly accurate when some guy was cracking a whip on your back! Milling and lathe- machines were different when they were powered by a hundred little runts shoveling coal into the furnace! Where’s the romance today where people just flick switches? Pah!

But yes, vintage watches are cool for all sorts of reasons. Let us now examine the blood sweat and tears behind this particular specimen I now hold in my grimey palm. An Omega manufactured in the 1940s, it is commonly known as a W.W.W. (Wristlet Watch Waterproof, Waterproof Wrist-Watch, whichever) that was ordered by Her Majesty’s Ministry of Defence to be supplied to its military forces fighting around the world. Judging by the serial number on the caseback, this one was probably manufactured too late to see any action in the last great war of the 20th century. It did end up in the possession of a British soldier fighting in the Malayan insurgency of the 1950s though, and I’ld like to think it saw some action against the commies in the dense jungles of Perak. The nameless owner’s fate is unknown, but the watch eventually wound up in a rusty cabinet in the Queen’s Malayan Garrison.

My dad was an immigrant from China – like most who made their way to Southeast Asia in the fifties, he arrived with not much more than the shirt on his back and a scrap of paper with a poorly scribbled address. As a young man in his late teens, he was determined to make his way in the world; he worked extremely hard, slogging and walking for miles, peddling what little items he had salvaged for sale. A popular trade to get into then for a migrant Chinese – I would imagine it was the equivalent of the IT profession then – was the sexy and revolutionary scrap-metal business. My dad would puff and grunt on his trusty single-speed bicycle, wheeling for miles with a ridiculously large amount of junk strapped perilously to its back. And one day in the late fifties, as he did his rounds, hocking and trying to convince housewives that a hollowed-out mortar shell made a good cooking pot, he came across a British army camp.

That camp was being evacuated as part of a gradual reduction of British troop strength that would eventually cumulate in complete withdrawal of forces from Singapore by 1971. Like any good scrap- dealer, my dad sensed an opportunity for a smash-and-grab. The camp guards had no issues with selling him some unwanted bed frames and cabinets, but it got expensive when other scrap dealers got wind of it. A bidding war erupted, and eventually all my dad got for his $10 (Straits Settlement dollars, mind) was two bed- frames, one metal rack, and one cabinet belonging to a certain A. Nameless Tommy. You can imagine his surprise and delight when he discovered that little trinket when he was cleaning out the cabinet later!

And this little 35mm wristwatch has been in my family ever since. It still works well, and amazingly, the luminous hour markers still emit a faint glow. If you don’t find that impressive or at least intriguing, I would tell you that my dad is 68 years old this year. The other interesting thing about it is that at least two authorities on vintage wristwatches have remarked that the hour and minutes hands do not appear to be original and have been replaced before, whilst my dad swears on his old bed frame that he’s never sent it for servicing, repair or replacement at any time ever. Perhaps there was some inconsistency in the assembly and manufacture of WWW watches? Let it remain an accident of history.

The basic design of the WWW watches was shared between all the various manufacturers that the MoD contracted to supply, and as such, it has been propagated through the decades and never went out of fashion. Recently, with vintage being in vogue again, Longines has reissued their version of the WWW (named ‘Greenlander’), showing how timeless the design is. When it comes down to it all though, all vintage watches will have their own fascinating stories to tell; of fathers, grandfathers, or some unknown soldier fighting far away from his home. One does truly feel a sense of wonder when holding on to this timepiece; of all the trials and challenges have the men whom worn it been through in a tumultuous period of the 20th century. Let this tough and unpretentious watch forever stand as a testament to their industry and ingenuity. Salute.

For information on these wristwatches, the webpage W.W.W. http://www.sfu.ca/~mmh/BritishX.htm is compulsory reading. Soldier’s image courtesy of www.militaryphotos.net

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