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Project Flightmaster - Ressurecting a 40 Year Workhorse

  1. Aquariusmatic

    Aquariusmatic Apr 26, 2020

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    As I've finally opted to stop lurking and register on the forums I might as well share a story that will unfold in the coming months - the story of bringing my Flightmaster back to life.
    I've been an Omega fan since the before mentioned Geneve I have inherited and passed through several phases of "collecting" starting with buying anything I could afford, then culling, then buying again and so on until I stopped and readjusted my goals - one word Vintage ( hopefully no garbage bin vintage this time round).

    Skip the back and forth for a couple of years and I get wind of a "possibly fake old omega you should look at" and this photograph via WhatsApp : 12948586_1732183840401791_1045687557_o.jpg

    The watch coming from a pilot of the Yugoslavian "JAT Airways" and their Airforce. It was being sold for 300€ at the time and I've bought it sight unseen with a cal. 601 Geneve...
    I wait for almost two months for it to be delivered and when i get the watches I am instantly disappointed the Geneve being washed thoroughly with WD-40 and this watch being so dirty and sticky my girlfriend has a fit.

    I examine the "fake chrono omega" and finally get to read the name on the dial - Flightmaster - I've only seen one in an old Omega advertisement at the local watchmaker. I'm ecstatic and at the same time worried...
    The glass is held in by hot glue, the crown for the inner bezel also and the best is yet to come - I phone the seller to confirm receipt and he tells me since he bought the watch in Canada he never stopped wearing it throughout his career and never serviced it "just cleaned off the grime and stuff with alcohol and some bike oil"...

    So lets see what I have received from the guy:

    This is the third ultrasonic bath of the caseback and the bracelet ( prior water changes were not photographed as I was being yelled at for using my GFs jewelry cleaner for this):
    WhatsApp Image 2020-04-26 at 12.33.54.jpeg

    This is the fifth take on the caseback: WhatsApp Image 2020-04-26 at 12.33.55 (1).jpeg

    Now the bracelet before going for a swim for the 5th time:

    WhatsApp Image 2020-04-26 at 12.33.55.jpeg

    And now for you with a weak stomach it would be time to stop browsing or a parental guidance moment, I've never seen 30-40 years of crud, skin, sweat, clothes and other kind of DNA nowhere and was hitting my icky skin crawling scale right around 9 out of 10...
    The gasket has melted in place, a slight aroma of something akin to petroleum permeates the watch and the air around it, worrying - yes - stopping me from winding it - no...
    WhatsApp Image 2020-04-26 at 12.33.54 (2).jpeg WhatsApp Image 2020-04-26 at 12.33.54 (1).jpeg WhatsApp Image 2020-04-26 at 12.33.55 (2).jpeg WhatsApp Image 2020-04-26 at 12.33.54 (4).jpeg

    IT WORKS! The watch ticks, the seconds move, the gmt hand moves and the chrono resets as intended. I photograph the rest and close it all up...
    It's been sitting like this in my drawer for the last two years - waiting on me to bring it back to life.
    I think its time...

    Will follow through but will appreciate all the help i can get, part numbers - part leads all would be appreciated and the final product will stay in my "keep forever" collection, right besides my grandpas Geneve and my fathers Roamer Searock.

    Thanks for reading!
     
    Edited Apr 26, 2020
  2. Aquariusmatic

    Aquariusmatic Apr 27, 2020

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    Now that you've seen the intro to the project.

    What would you do if this was your watch in regard to getting it up to spec? I definitely want to get a new set of tritium hands, crowns and pushers with enamel color?
    New glass or just polish the original glass ? New dial or not?
    I'd appreciate all input you can give.

    Thanks!
     
  3. NikoMartinez_SYD

    NikoMartinez_SYD Apr 27, 2020

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    Have you put it on a timegrapher ? I wonder how it’s actually running. I’d get it serviced and running well so you can at least wear it in its raw original condition whilst you hunt for original parts... there are lists of flightmaster gurus on here (and there is a specific flightmaster thread if you search for it). All the best mate great story, made even better it was from an actual pilot!
     
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  4. Aquariusmatic

    Aquariusmatic Apr 27, 2020

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    I didn't I'm kind of going at least in my mind the route of looking and fondling it daily while sourcing the parts and then sending it of to get refinished and serviced by an Omega Service Partner in my country or somewhere within the EU depending on recommendations.
    I know that this service center does laser case welding and refinishing to oem specifications but i kind of don't want to get it 100% sterile and new I'd retain some character.
     
  5. pascs

    pascs Apr 27, 2020

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    The trouble is that if you do too much then you lose all the character that the watch has achieved over the years. One option is to send it to Omega and have them do all the work, they will do a fantastic job with movement service, refinishing the case, new hands, new crowns, new pushers, new glass and maybe new dial too .................so you would have a great watch but that had lost its original character.

    My personal preference would be movement service, relumed hands, keep the original yellow hands and keep the original dial. New crystal and gaskets, new crowns & pushers. To get these parts will probably require an Omega authorised watch maker with an Omega account.

    The movement is quite early 31xxxxxx, 145.026?, with the metal brake, the later models had this part replaced with the delrin brake as per the Speedmaster etc
     
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  6. Aquariusmatic

    Aquariusmatic Apr 27, 2020

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    You raise the same concerns I've had for the duration of the ownership... I have seen NOS parts you've mentioned on ebay there are several crystals going from 90 to 200€ currently on ebay.de as well as gaskets and the colored pushers.
    I think I'll need to rebuild or get a new mechanism for the bezel, i don't want to butcher the watch locally to see the innards and do a diagnosis ( don't know how to remove the caliber on chronos or high complication watches).

    It is the 145.026 indeed.

    Regarding the dial, sometimes when i look at it I wanna say it aged nicely - other days i think it's cr*p...
     
  7. tyrantlizardrex

    tyrantlizardrex C is NOT for "Lizard". Apr 27, 2020

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    The route I've undertaken in getting two broken flightmasters back up and running, was based around being able to wear and enjoy them every day.

    016preservice.jpg 026preservice.jpg

    For me, this meant full mechanical service, new crystal, new pushers and crowns.

    I have the old crowns and pushers in case someone in the distant future wants to put them back on the watches, but since I don't intend to sell them, and I want to wear and enjoy them without worrying, this is the route I took.

    IMG_2606.JPG IMG_5687.JPG

    The one that's still waiting work however, I'm going new everything - because to my eye it is just too far gone with water damage:


    026dead.jpg


    Ultimately the decision is yours, but I wouldn't touch the hands or dial on your watch. I would get it fully cleaned and serviced, new crystal and seals, and new crowns and pushers. I'd keep the crowns and pushers just in case, and then I'd wear the heck out of it!:thumbsup:
     
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  8. pascs

    pascs Apr 27, 2020

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    At the end of the day you have to live with it and enjoy the watch, so there is no easy answer on the dial.

    My three flightmasters. The 145.013 has a really faded dial but it has a special character which I didnt want to change.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  9. SpeedyPhill

    SpeedyPhill asked ages ago but no longer interested Apr 27, 2020

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    Damn, the urge to search for one... :rolleyes:
     
  10. Jantar

    Jantar Apr 27, 2020

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    Exactly what SpeedyPhill said. When I first saw these I thought they were chunky and the dials were too busy. Yet the more I look at them, the cooler they become. Now they appeal to me as the ultimate expression of the 70's watch and I'm beginning to think not only do I like them but my collection MUST have one.
     
  11. lpestre

    lpestre Apr 27, 2020

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    Result is very good !!!
     
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  12. Damo

    Damo Apr 27, 2020

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    Great story and a great looking watch :)

    As said already, I'd leave the dial and hands as is. At the end of the day it's your watch and you need to decide what to do with it.

    It might be an idea to sit on the watch, so to speak, research it some more before you decide which route you want to take with it.

    Good luck and keep this thread updated :)
     
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  13. Aquariusmatic

    Aquariusmatic Apr 28, 2020

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    True, I'm much younger than I'd guess half the forum here and when I first saw the advertisement at the local watchmaker and this one in person I was kind of taken back by the case design and how busy it all was... Now that I've sat on it for a bit of time I'm looking to exchange my normal Memomatic for a "flightmaster" cased one. The design and the watch just jumps out at me now and speaks to me. I mean it really is one of a kind watch and i like it how its sits separate from the Speedies and Seamsters.

    I've ordered the glass and gaskets, next up some pushers and crowns... What colour crowns do i need black or blue or one of each?
     
  14. CJpickup57

    CJpickup57 Apr 28, 2020

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    One of each.

    Can't wait to see how it turns out!

    PS: Have you looked into purchasing the book "flightmaster only" yet?
     
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  15. pascs

    pascs Apr 28, 2020

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    The crystal and gasket for each of the flightmaster versions is different. If I remember correctly the 145.026 uses an o-ring around the glass which really needs a special tool to install it correctly - in a similar way as the 145.014 Speedmaster
    The crowns are straight forward if I remember correctly, but you'll need a special tool for the pushers, same design as all the Speedmasters
     
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  16. Aquariusmatic

    Aquariusmatic Apr 29, 2020

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    Thanks! Regarding the book, I've seen the Moonwatch Only - didn't know that a Flightmaster book existed, for now I'll lock my funds into parts and service and see from there but thanks for the suggestion.


    Correct the glass comes with an O ring and I was warned by the seller not to give it to just any watchmaker as the seal and the position might not be done properly without the know how and the right tools.
    I won't be tearing it apart so I won't be removing the pushers myself, when I get all the bits and bobs together I'll decide on where to send the watch.

    Question about the bracelet, it has some stretch in it - is there a guide how to refurbish it? I did DIY a Jubilee a few years back so I'm thinking of tackling that myself to save some €€€.
     
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  17. Stripey

    Stripey Jun 17, 2020

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    I stumbled across this thread and wondered how this was coming along? I'm currently looking at a Flightmaster on a local auction where the case appears to be in fantastic condition, the movement looks clean, the dial looks pretty good (certainly compared to the other one for sale in the same auction) but the crowns and pushers are non-original, and I'd probably want to get them replaced as part of a thorough service. My understanding is that service crowns and pushers are still available from Omega, but I don't know if you have been able to verify that. Anyway, your watch looks fantastic, and I loved the epic of the ultrasonic cleaning!
     
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  18. tyrantlizardrex

    tyrantlizardrex C is NOT for "Lizard". Jun 17, 2020

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    Service crowns, pushers, crystals, dials, hands, casebacks, and I think eve complete cases are still available.

    You just need to work with a watchmaker who has an Omega parts account - you cannot buy the parts direct yourself.
     
  19. Stripey

    Stripey Jun 17, 2020

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    Thank you.
     
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  20. Aquariusmatic

    Aquariusmatic Jun 18, 2020

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    As he said the parts are available through omega, a quick search on the Bay can help you locate original period parts sometimes. That's what I did regarding a dial and tritium hands - I won't be going the newer service parts for mine and won't be getting it to Mint condition per say.

    I have been hit by the Corona craze and ordered items are just now beginning to be delivered so I can't update the thread with any decent info but thanks for your comments :) and wish you lots of luck with getting yourself a nice Flightmaster.