© 2019 by The Young Horologist

The Omega Chronostop: A Completely Unbiased Opinion

September 22, 2018

 

 

 

Yes. Okay, Those of you who know me know I have a 1967 Omega Chronostop 145.009 on the original mesh bracelet. It is near new old stock condition and, as a result, I look at it like a time capsule. A piece of history demonstrating true 1960s design. I have recently been thinking about trading this in for a Speedmaster reduced. This hasn't been helped by the fact our good friend over at Kiblblewatches.com just bought one. However, every time I wear this watch or even look at this watch in my box it brings me so much joy for a number of reasons that I shall explain in due course. I also believe that these reasons make this piece an incredibly underappreciated model in the vintage Omega world. 

 

An era when an insurgence of psychedelics lead to the thinking behind 2001 Space Odyssey, the 1960s was a decade when, for the first time, contemporary and futuristic design was the style. This was an era that saw crazy technology like the microwave oven enter homes after all. As a result, we see this new thinking behind design and concepts reflected in everything from cars to guitars and of course watches. The Omega Chronostop is no exception.

 

Movement

 

First launched in 1966 using the Omega in house calibre 865, the chronostop was a new kind of chronograph. Intended to be the more affordable and youthful alternative to the speedmaster, the Chronostop has a single pusher operated chronograph system where one button both starts, stops and resets the running second hand. What makes this truly unique from another monopusher chronograph is that it essentially has a Flyback function. To stop the chrono you press AND hold the button in. Note the time recorded and then, by simply releasing the button, it resets. This is the function I fell in love with. Incidentally the Federation Horologer did also, awarding it the top prize for a sports watch in 1967. For me this meant that I could own a vintage Flyback chronograph - of sorts - for more or less £1000. However, there is more to this calibre. As this was meant to be a more affordable and basic iteration of the speedmaster, they saved the time money of creating a new movement by using the calibre 861, found in the Speedmasters of the time, as the base movement. As a result one could look at the calibre 865, found in the chronostop, as a legendary lemania based Calibre 861 without the minute or hour track.......... 2 years on they released the calibre 920 which is exactly the same but has a date function. In my opinion the 145.009 that I own is the original, iconic chronostop design. However, much like a lot of Omega's range today and back then, there are many iterations of the chronostop. For example, there are models with internal rotating bezels, different colour schemes and even a model with the dial rotated 90 degrees to enable maximum ease reading the time when driving. 

 

 

 Case back of the calibre 850 using the 861 as a base...

 

 

 The crazy "Driving Edition" of the chronostop

 

Case and Design

 

But as I was saying before going off on a tangent, the design was one of the main winners for me. The tonneau stainless steel case, slate grey dial and orange second hand just reminded me of the colour scheme of a space shuttle. This coupled with the incredibly fine mesh bracelet just gives this watch that 1960s "idea of the future" design. I like to imagine, when designing this watch, Omega thought "Lets design a watch that looks super futuristic" and that this design is what watch makers in the 1960s thought "super futuristic looked like. The case is a perfect size for a vintage sports watch coming in at 35mm and about 10mm thick. The tonneau case however makes it wear larger and sit perfectly on the wrist whilst the thin, sleekness of the case allows it to fit perfectly under a cuff (if you are going for the Steve McQueen look). The case uses brushing on the front and polishing on the bevels to again give it this matte, robotic look when it hits the light which I love. This was initially marketed as a driving watch and you do get that feel on the wrist. The practicality of a flyback 1 minute chrono for timing pits stops etc, the smaller size and comfortable wear so it doesn't dig into your wrist or hand whilst racing, brushed steel on the front face of the watch to make it more impervious to scratches and the minimal uncluttered dial to make telling time much easier during the high octane experience of racing a car before ABS, traction control or power steering was even invented....... 

 

 

Bracelet

 

The mesh bracelet alone is phenomenal. They only made these bracelets for this model and are, as result, exceptionally rare and valuable in their own right. But this isn't what makes it phenomenal. This is by far the best mesh bracelet I have ever handled. It is so fine and so well constructed it genuinely wears like a slightly heavier nato. It also has, internationally, a tiny bit of stretch which again adds to the "fabric nature" of this strap. Now a days this may not be as impressive as Apple have children in China producing mesh straps for them. However, for Omega to construct a strap this well in the 1960s is phenomenal. Also this crazy fabric feel of a steel mesh bracelet again adds to this impression of the "futuristic design". The click open clasp is the one floor. Although it is perfectly sized as to not impede this fabric nature of the strap, it is only secured on a click clasp. This means that at times it has popped open and nearly come off my wrist. Also, The ends of the strap essentially screw into the clasp. This is probably the only strap in the world to do this but it does unfortunately mean I cant simply attach the clasp to a leather strap if I wanted to mix it up. However, one advantage of this clasp is the micro adjustment feature. As I said the ends of the strap screw into the clasp but screw in via a bolt that pushes on the outside of the clasp between some ridges. This means you can easily unscrew the ends and adjust the strap accordingly. This is a far shy from the modern glide lock clasps on modern Rolexes and Omegas but it was also 40 years before the modern Rolex Glide lock came into existence.....

 

 The photo shows clearly how fluid and fabric-like the mesh bracelet is

 

To conclude this exceptionally unbiased review of a watch I own, I don't this I could trade/sell this watch for a very long time. Everything about it is so cool and it brings me too much joy to see it go. I also believe that we will see an increase in the value of these pieces as interest shifts from the Speedmasters. I have already seen about a 5% increase in the value of mine since buying it 18 months ago. That not what its about but it makes this sickness easier to justify to your friends and family......

 

Here's the only picture of me wearing mine. Apologies, I keep it well hidden. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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