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Omega military watches during World War II

In the 2017 blockbuster movie “Dunkirk”, a watch has an important role on the wrist of the actor Tom Hardy, who plays the character of RAF pilot Farrier fighting an air battle on the skies of Dunkirk in the attempt to aid his allies stranded on the beaches.

Christopher Nolan, the director of the movie, was accurate in the choice of the model to be placed on the wrist of Hardy’s RAF character, the Omega CK2129, a timepiece that was commonly worn by RAF pilots in the early days of the Second World War.


Its rotating bezel was highly valuable for pilots and navigators during missions as it enabled the timing of specific intervals. On bombing raids, for example, these timing intervals became crucial. The rotating bezel could also be locked by the watch’s second crown, so that the timing could not be affected by accidental knocks.


An Omega CK2129 like the one featured in the "Dunkirk" movie

Around 2,000 Omega CK2129 had been delivered to the British Ministry of Defence at the start of the war. The watch was made to be particularly easy to read, which is why it featured a contrasting cream dial with clear Arabic numerals and poire hands.

Tom Hardy in Dunkirk and below the Omega CK2129 in his hands during a scene of the movie - Photos courtesy of Syncopy / Warner Bros


Omega was actually one of the main suppliers of watches to Great Britain’s Ministry of Defence and some of its allies during both World Wars thanks to two main factors: the precision of its watches (the brand had a strong history of observatory records to prove the accuracy of its timepieces) and, even more important, the manufacturing capability to deliver high quantities of these precise wristwatches and pocket watches for service.

Vintage French advertisement dating back to 1916

Vintage Omega advertisement at the end of World War II - 1945

Chronographs became essential tools for commanding officers into the trenches. By timing the exact difference between the flash and sound of opposing gunfire, they were able to work out the distance between themselves and the enemy.

During World War II, Omega delivered more than 110,000 pilots’, navigators’ and soldiers’ watches to Great Britain’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) to support its Air Force and Navy pilots during service.

As the war progressed, Omega delivered even more models to the Ministry of Defence.

The UK/CK2292 is perhaps the most famous and most widely used of all. These watches were supplied to the majority of RAF and Fleet Air Arm personnel. Inside was the innovative 30 mm calibre, which had set numerous world precision records at observatory trials. It was far more resistant to magnetism due to a new alloy used in creating the balance spring. This greatly served the pilots flying the Hurricanes and Spitfires, who were sitting just two feet behind a huge magnetic field within their powerful engines.

Omega UK/CK2292

Towards the end of World War II, another Omega watch - the CK2444 - became known for its water resistance. In fact, the Ministry of Defence gave it the W.W.W. engraving on the caseback, which stood for “Waterproof Wrist Watch”. There was also a Broad Arrow marking on the dial and caseback which was typical of the British military.

Above and below, the Omega CK2444


The MoD specs were exactly what you would expect a military watch to be - waterproof, luminous, regulated to chronometer level and composed of a case that was rugged. Around 25,000 Omega CK2444 were produced.

With the war won by the allies, Field Marshal Lord Montgomery, the commander of the British Eighth Army at El Alamein and during the Operation Overlord, specifically requested a visit to Omega’s factories in Biel, Switzerland. On two separate trips, one official  in 1947 and one private two years later during his holidays, he expressed his satisfaction with Omega’s watches during the war and met with company representatives to thank them for the help that the brand had given. omegawatches.com
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Time and Watches | The watch blog: Omega military watches during World War II
Omega military watches during World War II
Omega military watches history. In “Dunkirk”, Tom Hardy wears an Omega CK2129 while playing the character of RAF pilot Farrier fighting an air battle.
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