This article is dedicated to pilot watches and particularly to the Omega Pilot timepiece from the 30’s.
To begin with, we will talk about the characteristics of the pilot watches. Most of them were designed for pilots during the Second World War. These watches were made to be functional and efficient professional tools for their owners. Therefore, they needed to be solid, accurate and reliable in order to resist to the rough condition that the military encountered during the war. Pilot watches can be recognized by their considerable size and crown which facilitated manipulation while wearing their professional outfits such as their pilot jackets and gloves. Most of the pilots used to wear their watches over the jackets or even their leg. The dials of these tool watches were mostly black colored with big luminous indexes and hands to make them visible. Considered as tool watches, the aeronautical timepieces were used for several functions such as the calculation of air speed and navigation thanks to the bezel slide rule.
The first ever pilot tool watch was launched in 1904 by Cartier and named Santos, after one of the first European aviation pioneers. It was nowhere near as sophisticated as the aviation watches that came later, because it was not very reliable and easy to read-out, though it looked good.
Like planes, the pilot watches were getting better and better, probably because of the demand of high technical specifications from governments involved in war which meant that watches were made to resist to extreme conditions. These demands contributed to the increase of production from the Swiss manufacturers such as Cyma which was considered as the biggest manufacturer in Europe.
The military pilot watches were manufactured by many brands, such as Breguet with the emblematic Type XX, and many others. One that attracted our attention is the rare Omega Pilot from 1938 reference CK 2042 which was delivered to a pilot in the Pacific zone in Februrary 1941.
This watch wasn’t delivered to anybody, it was a special delivery made for pilots during the Second World War. Just followed by the destruction of Pearl Harbor.
During the devastating attack by the hundreds of Japanese fighter planes that targeted the American naval base and destroyed nearly 20 American naval vessels, including eight enormous battleships, and more than 300 airplanes.
Let’s now focus on the Omega Pilot. A big diameter for this CK 2042 of 40.5mm which was designed to be around the pilot’s knee. What’s particular about this size, is that it was created during a time when most watches were at a smaller size that corresponded around 35 mm. It was designed in such an unusual size because the watch needed to be easily readable by pilots.
Even if your wrist is thin you will be suprised to see that it fits near perfect to the wrist. The case of 10mm thickness is quiete slim compared to nowadays pilot watches. Thanks to the curved lugs the watch feels like it is part of your wrist. It’s simply an exceptional timepiece to wear.
It is a proper tool watch indicates a second time zone with it’s inner rotating bezel which operates smoothely. The heartbeat of the watch comes from it’s tough and reliable Omega hand wind caliber 26.5 T2. By the way, you can notice that the movement has an engraving that we believe to be the Pilot’s name initial. The dial is black enamel with luminous Arabic numerals, outer track with 1/5 seconds division, « Baton » hands and small seconds at six. On the previous version of the Pilot watch which was produced only for a total of 3 years (1935-1938) hands were different, they were « pilot hands ».
Considered as being one of the rarest and most desirable aviator watches ever produced. Omega launched a reedition in 2000 which retains all the same looks as the original. It is even part of their Museum collection located in Bienne. A way to tribute this rare timepiece throughout history.
For the ones who are willing to find a clean CK 2042, you will need to be patient and rather generous simply because it is really difficult to find one. By the way, even the reedition watch is not easy to find.
This rare watch is available at our boutique in Paris, 28 rue Madame 75006. For more details, please contact us by mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.