Vintage Omega Flightmaster, Rare Original Dial, Caliber 910 Chronograph circa 1970
Alexei Leonov, the Russian Cosmonaut, wore an Omega Flightmaster during training for his command of the first crew for the first joint Soviet-American space mission under the ASTP program (Apollo-Soyuz Test Project). During the second mission that was under his command, the Soyuz spacecraft docked with the US Apollo spacecraft – the first docking ever between two spacecraft from two different countries.
The Flightmaster Chronograph is one of the first watches made, this combines a chronograph with a second time zone. Chronographs used in aviation for numerous tasks. For years chronographs have been standard equipment in airliners since most airline pilots change time zones several times a week they have a use for a second time zone in their watch. The Flightmaster was one of the first watches that was tailored to those needs. If you look at the dial you will find that it closely resembles the Speedmaster dial, but has two important differences.
Firstly, it has an internal 0-60 scale that can be set by turning the lower crown on the left side. The Speedmaster had atachymeter scale on the bezel but in the modern aircraft of the 70's The 0-60 scale can be used to time short intervals both in minutes and seconds without having to stop/start the chronograph.
Secondly and most importantly it has a secondary hour hand that can be set independently from the primary hour hand by the top crown on the left side. You can set this hand without stopping or changing the main time indication, and therefore it makes sense to set local time on the blue hand, and GMT/UTC on the white hour hand. If you change time zones you can simply set the blue hand to the new time zone using the time difference from UTC that's on the white hand.
For such a complicated watch the readability is still fairly good, and I very much like the styling of it. The case is a typical product of the seventies. Plain round cases were out of style, and Omega used an extraordinarily formed case. Also, rather modern in those days, they used a flat mineral crystal that is flush with the top of the case. This makes for a high looking watch, and together with the covered springbars a very massive looking thing. The quality of it all is excellent, probably on par with the best, and certainly better than most.
One thing that immediately draws your attention, more even then the extra hour hand, is the number of crowns and buttons. Five in total. I don't know many watches that have more. To make the functionality of these crowns and buttons clear, Omega colour-coded them. Also something that was pretty extraordinary. As you will understand, the blue crown sets the blue hour hand. The black crown sets the 0-60 scale. And the orange chronographs hands start, stop and reset by the orange/red coloured buttons.
On many Flightmasters these coloured dots have disappeared, but on this one they are still perfect,. while the probably more used chrono buttons have lost most of their colour. On the screw-in case back Omega leaves no doubt to which purpose this watch was designed.