Upon Omega’s release of the Chronostop driver watch in 1966, it came well equipped with all the avant-garde features of the sports watches of the era, namely shock resistance, internal anti-magnetic protection, and – most importantly – a 60 second “stop-second watch,” the same manual wind, 17-jewel Omega Calibre 865 movement as the technically superior Calibre 861 Speedmaster models.
Though missing the Speedmaster’s 12 hour register and external anti magnetic dust cover, the Chonrostop was valued at half the price of the Speedmaster; Omega was specifically targeting younger, less affluent buyers. Omega ended manufacture of the Chronostop in the 1970s, after a few different case orientations and movements, and a total run of 124,000 pieces.
The Chronostop’s styling and technical performance were certainly revolutionary and indeed, the Chronostop was awarded the top prize in 1966 at the prestigious “Federation Horologer” competition, entered by Omega in preparation for the International World Exhibition in Montreal in 1967. When new in the late 1960s, Omega marketed the Chronostop with a separate brochure headlined “Technical Watches,” which also included the far pricier Flightmaster; Speedmaster Professional; Speedmaster Mark II; Seamaster 300; and the Seamaster 120. All of these models are now expensive collector’s items, yet the Chronostop – far more complicated than the two Seamasters in this series (with its chronograph function) – is still quite affordable in comparison.
In Japan, where the appreciation and study of vintage wristwatches is far more advanced than in the West (Seiko anyone?), much attention is paid to the Chronostop/Speedmaster link. Japanese horology literature, such as Kesaharu Imai’s study of the development of the Speedmaster “Time Capsule,” devotes attention to the Chronostop, allocating two full pages to the Chronostop and equating it as an equal to its more famous siblings.
The Chronostop – one of the most eccentric watches Omega ever made – came in two configurations; one as in a regular watch configuration (the example for sale here), the other in a unique under-the-wrist design. A few years after its introduction in 1966, Omega came up with an unusual idea: when a driver’s hands are upon the steering wheel, usually at ten and two o’clock positions, it renders the watch difficult to read. Omega decided the Chronostop Driver variant would be worn on the underside of the wrist, so Omega rotated the dial 90° within the case, making it easy to quickly read. This heretofore unseen design rightfully earned Omega notoriety, and a prototype of the watch won honorable mention in the “Sports Chronograph and Watches” category at the 1966 Montreal World's Fair.
Late 1960s Omega Ref.145.009 Chronostop Manual-Wind Calibre 865 Mechanical Watch
DIAL: Original Omega-signed dial, with great outer dial racing rally-inspired detail. Original hour, minute, and chronograph hands.
CASE: Original 35mm (w/o crown) x 38mm stainless steel case.
CRYSTAL: Original crystal, no scratches.
BAND: Brown 18mm leather strap, with cream-colored accent stitching and stainless-steel hardware. This Chornostop also comes with a black and gray “Bond” nylon NATO strap, also with stainless-steel hardware.
MOVEMENT: Original Swiss-manufactured Calibre 865 mechanical movement, with 60-second stopwatch; stopwatch is engaged with a press and release stop-second feature engaged by the single pusher at 2 o’clock. The only difference between the Speedmaster’s Calibre 861 and Chronostop’s 865 movements is the movements destined for Speedmaster watches featured the addition of a 12 hour register and an external antimagnetic dust cover.
CROWN: Original Omega-signed stainless-steel crown.
CHRONOGRAPH: Original mono pusher engages easily, as designed. To start the chronograph, the mono pusher is depressed. To stop it, the pusher is depressed and held, then released to reset.