Amid the spellbinding aerial combat scenes in Christopher Nolan’s epic tribute to the heroes of Operation Dynamo, one particular prop stands out: a military-issue Omega replica that did more than its fair share to help the Allied victory in WWII.
You’d be forgiven for missing the replica watches Tom Hardy wears whilst battling the Luftwaffe above the English Channel in Christopher Nolan’s epic Dunkirk. But as befits an RAF fighter pilot, Hardy’s character is wearing a service-issue, swiss Omega, an innovative timepiece that was supplied to the bulk of British aircrew in the Second World War.
Despite being surrounded by Nazi-occupied countries, Switzerland continued to supply wristwatches to the Allied forces throughout the war. And not only were all the navigational fake watches used by the RAF during the Second World War made in Switzerland – approximately half of these came from cheap Omega.
The most commonly worn piece was the CK2129. This is the watch that can be seen on Tom Hardy’s wrist.
As can seen above, the CK2129 featured two crowns, the second of which was used to lock the rotating bezel against accidental movement. The bezel itself was used to count down flying times during missions, a vital aid to navigation. Another feature of the CK2129 instantly recognisable to any lover of classic ‘tool’ watches is the clear, concise display, with its arabic numerals contrasted against a pale cream dial.
After the war, Field Marshall Montgomery, the commander of Allied land forces on D-Day (6, 1944), made both an official and a private visit to its factory in Biel to thank Omega for the company’s contribution to the allied victory. For its part, Omega acknowledges that much of the replica watchmaking ‘intel’ gathered during the war years, later entered production in the form of the 1948 Seamaster model, descendants of which are still available today.