One minute at a time

Timekeeping Selects: OMEGA Chronostop (Sold)

Style By Photo by Eric Yang
Editor’s Note:
For all the shiny new watches we come across every week, nothing gets our hearts racing like a great vintage timepiece. These are watches with stories, some known, some lost to history. Watches from the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s come from an era when a man’s timepiece was his everyday carry, a tool for the job that wasn’t put away when things got down and dirty. Many vintage watches bear the marks of use that we endearingly call “patina”, and remain that much more lovely in spite of (or because of) it.

The other appealing aspect of vintage watches is their rarity. Even the most common old timepieces are becoming harder to find in good shape. So while you can walk into a retailer and buy a brand new watch anytime, finding a good vintage piece requires patience, persistence, research and legwork. This leads us to the sixth installment of our ongoing series, Timekeeping Selects, a partnership with Analog/Shift, the New York-based purveyor of vintage watches. We’ve done the legwork for you, handpicking the coolest, most unique old watches, all of which have impeccable authenticity and are serviced and ready to wear.

Any respectable collection of vintage watches must include an OMEGA. The company hit its stride in the 1960s, and its watches arguably defined the style of that decade. The difficulty is in choosing which one. There is no shortage of great old OMEGAs, from the iconic Speedmaster Moonwatch to the British Navy’s Seamaster 300 or the dressy Constellation chronometers. Many of these collectible watches can set you back a few paychecks — and while we won’t argue with a Speedmaster as a staple in any collection, if you’re looking for something a little less common and more affordable, consider this alternative: the Chronostop ($1,450 SOLD).

The Chronostop was designed specifically to track events that last less than one minute. To that end, OMEGA modifed a Lemania movement to be used only in this watch, and its functioning is unique. Press the single push-piece once to start the sweep-second hand; press it again to stop it, but don’t release it until you’re ready to reset. Then the sweep hand snaps back to zero, ready to go again. There hasn’t been another watch like the Chronostop since the 1970s, when the last few left OMEGA’s Bienne workshops. While not as versatile as a full-on chronograph, the Chronostop was built in various guises: a dive watch, a driver’s watch, and those with a rainbow of colored dials and rotating inner bezels.

The Chronostop we’re featuring today is from 1968 and has a bright blue dial, with the “racing” outer minute track and a date window. Its 35-millimeter case is barrel or “tonneau” shaped, like so many watches of its era, and has a nicely brushed finish that is in remarkably good shape. Patina on the markers and hands is just right, faded to a dull gold that looks great against that bold orange sweep-second hand. This old OMEGA would make a perfect addition to a vintage watch collection or the start of one. It comes with a selection of Crown & Buckle leather and nylon straps and ready to time your lap splits (assuming they’re under a minute).