Omega 6b/542 (1956)
This watch was ordered by the Royal Air Force in 1952 from Omega - they laid down a comprehensive specification for a robust, highly accurate, waterproof, anti-magnetic wrist watch to be supplied to navigators and pilots. These watches were supplied by Omega in 1953, consequently they’re referred to amongst military watch collectors as Omega ’53s.
This particular watch was sent by the RAF to the Royal Rhodesian Air Force (RRAF) and issued by them in 1956. The Rhodesian Air Force maintained close links with the British RAF at this time and there was a regular overlap in issued equipment. Rhodesia became Zimbabwe after independence and this watch was acquired from a Zimbawbe Air Force surplus auction, so it's never previously been in civilian hands.
The RRAF issue numbers on the back are slightly different from RAF issue numbers, I'm not sure there is a definitive decoding of these yet, but 56 presumably refers to the issue year. I believe 019 is a squadron and 9 is the individual number of this watch.
As this watch was issued to the RRAF it avoided having the original radium luminous dial replaced in the 1960s (something that happened to almost all the others Omega 6b/542s). There has been a small repair to the 7 digit, but I think this can be overlooked in light of the wonderful condition and even tone of the rest of the dial.
All the parts of the case are present - the dust cover and movement spacer. The case back even has the original moisture absorbant paper disc attached to the inside. The case has been ultrasonically cleaned but otherwise left untouched.
The case has some scratches and dings from use. The original crystal was cracked so has been replaced. Comes with a replica canvas strap which I think complements it very well. At 37mm diameter, these watches are large by 1950s standards and so are eminently wearable.
The watches were constructed using the top quality Omega calibre 283, a highly accurate movement which would have been relied on for navigation purposes. The inner casing and dial of the watch was made from soft iron in order to create a faraday cage around the movement to protect it from the effects of the magnetic fields in a 1950s plane cockpit.
This watch is in great condition, the movement is very clean and has been serviced and is keeping excellent time.
Case diameter: 37mm
Case material: stainless steel
Strap width: 18mm
time keeping: grade A+ (on my wrist it runs to within a few seconds per day)