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Buyers Guide: The Omega Soccer Timers

The Omega Soccer Timer is one of the coolest purpose-built chronographs that came from Omega. Produced from the 1960s to the 1980s, each Soccer Timer reference was either outfitted with a gray or white dial and all featured the stunning black and red chronograph subdials. What distinguishes the Soccer Timers from the other cal. 861 powered Omega chronographs of its era are the minute recorder sub-dial is marked with a 45-minute indicator below the “30.” This feature was included to make it easier to time halves of a soccer match. Otherwise, the various Soccer Timers weren’t much different from the other caliber 861-powered Omega chronographs available at the time of production.

I grew up alongside the evolution of what I call the internet of passions. From the many forums to Tumblr, then to Instagram, passionates of uncountable disciplines were able, for the first time to connect with their ilk from all over the world. From 1950s workwear collectors to vintage Longines fans, there are now avenues to get together. Whether we want to admit it or not, a revival of nostalgia has certainly gripped the cultural zeitgeist; thanks to this internet of passions. Notice this is not the internet of things. Our nostalgia is not for the things themselves. I love the Omega Speedmaster because it went to the moon, not because it is the moon watch.

Omega’s range of Soccer Timer Seamasters is great because they were designed and intended to time soccer halves, not because they actually do or did. Let’s take a look at these special use Omega chronographs.

1969 OMEGA 145.016 SEAMASTER - SOCCER TIMER Photo Courtesy: via our friends at fogcityvintage.com

Omega Soccer Timer Ref. 145.016

Kicking us off, both in reference number and lineage of the model line, is the 38mm reference 145.016 with, as all Soccer Timers, Omega’s caliber 861 ticking inside. The reference numbers stamped on soccer timers are not unique to the model range, rather these special dials were fitted to ‘normal’ Seamasters identical in case and movement.

This first iteration was offered in both a white and black dial and, many times, with a bright orange chrono-seconds hand, a-la ‘Ultraman’ fame. A unique color blocking is also present on the hour and minute hands; Omega implemented the same blocking on other models of the era, such as the Flightmaster. Especially when it comes to the black dial, the dual-colored hands stand out slightly more than if painted simply one color.

An argument can be made that we are saving the best for next but this first iteration is my pick of the litter. A smaller case size combined makes way for the true star of the show, the unbelievably well designed and colored soccer timer dials. Preference aside, our next two generations are nothing to pass up especially if you prefer a 41mm case size to 38mm.

1970 OMEGA Seamaster Soccer Timer (Ref. 145.019-69) "Roulette" Photo Courtesy: www.craftandtailored.com

Omega Soccer Timer Ref. 145.019

Both in a slightly larger cushion case of 41mm and adding bezels like the ‘roulette’ wheel variant shown here, tracking a second time zone in the most 1970s way possible. This particular 145.019 is undoubtedly Omega’s most sought after ‘Soccer Timer’ fetching a premium among the rest as there is nothing else quite like it. Not all 145.019s are roulettes, in fact, more are seen with routine black rotating bezels of a few various scales. To rotate their bezels, the generation has additional crowns at 9:45. Dials, again, are either white or black with varying hand colors throughout; a bit more research is needed before coming to any hard fast conclusions. Being increased in diameter and a crown added, the worry of the cushion case feeling too large will come up, however, these wear very well. Lug to lug distance is relatively short and the caseback on these seamasters is very flat, contributing to a slimmer and more comfortable profile.

1969 OMEGA Seamaster Soccer Timer Ref. 145.020 "Tropical" Photo Courtesy: www.craftandtailored.com

Omega Soccer Timer Ref. 145.020

Last but certainly not least is reference 145.020, essentially a fixed internal bezel brother of the .019— sitting in the middle of the model range in terms of functionality. What stands out from the pack is a depth of black in the bezel, even in a tropical dial example, previously offered by C&T, the bezel retains a starkly deep black color, adding even more to this dynamic watch. As with the 145.020, cases are 41mm in diameter and dials black or white. Bezel variants seen are the two above, tachymeter and telemeter.

Uniquely to love about the Ref. 145.020 are its multiple layers. More so than even the roulette examples above, the total look has a bullseye and narrowing aesthetic which can be from no other era than the 70s.

While not around for long in Omega catalogs and rarely advertised when they were, the final two Soccer Timer references were likely offered side by side. Giving the option of a reference 145.019 with its rotating internal bezel or a 145.020 with fixed bezel.

Final Thoughts

All ranting on the internet of passions aside, when I think about wearing and owning special purpose vintage watches such as these, I can’t help but imagine the lives they once lived and stories inside. In the same way yachting chronographs served a purpose, a Soccer Timer was meant to be relied upon, something that we often take for granted in a world of iPhones. The pops of color and striking look in the metal help too.

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