Our quest to cover all of Omega’s crazy chronographs from the 1960s, 70s, and 80s is getting a bit closer to its conclusion. Until then, the journey continues, and today, it’s with the Omega Seamaster Soccer Timer.
Watches don’t get much cooler, or much more specific than a Soccer Timer. Other brands have released their versions of a soccer timer, most notably Breitling, around the same timeframe as Omega. The Breitling is nice, no doubt, but Omega takes the cake with their rather colorful and unique dials.
Each reference was either outfitted with a grey or white dial, all featuring black and red chronograph subdials. What made the Soccer Timer distinctly a soccer timer is the chronograph minute subdial was marked with a 45-minute indicator below the “30” to make it easier to time soccer halves. Otherwise, the various Soccer Timers weren’t much different from other caliber 861-powered Omegas.
The Seamaster Soccer Timer can be broken out into three separate references, the 145.016, 145.019, and 145.020. There may have also been a reference 145.0029, but there was only one example of this I could find, and may have been a custom or franken piece. Besides the white or grey dials, Soccer Timers all come with a cushion case, housing the venerable caliber 861, and most often with an 1171 bracelet. If any of you are familiar with this particular Omega bracelet, you’ll know it as an incredible pain in the ass when it comes to link removal. Chances are you’ll remove the links by smashing it against the wall in frustration before you remove them properly. There have been examples found with other bracelets as well.
At any rate, we capture each reference and their unique identifiers below.
The simplest of the Soccer Timers, the reference 145.016 has a cushion case and a dial that reaches the entire width of the case opening. At 38-millimeters wide, and a rather slim profile, it wears incredibly nice. Even today, the way the case is shaped would lend to modern tastes, as it doesn’t have the appearance of a 38mm width – more like 40-millimeters. On the market, it’s likely this reference will come in on the lower end of the Soccer Timer price spectrum, somewhere in the low to possibly mid $2,000 range.
A slight step up from the 145.016, the 145.020 increases the case size to 41-millimeters wide, and adds a fixed internal bezel. Packing in an extra functionality, the 145.020 can be found with a tachymeter, just like its Speedmaster relative. I came across what appeared to be a page from an old Omega catalog that said this reference could also be had with a telemeter, pulsemeter, or decimeter bezel. Knowing Omega, they very well could have been offered with different bezels, even if they were limited to certain markets. If you’ve seen this reference with something other than a tachy bezel, please pass along a picture or some documentation. As for pricing, expect the 145.020 to land above the 145.016, but topping off in the $2,700 to $2,900 range, depending on condition.
Jumping out of numerical order was absolutely intentional. Undoubtedly, the reference 145.019 is the most desirable Soccer Timer, especially with the “roulette” bezel. Like the reference 145.020, this Soccer Timer has the larger case, but with an extra crown to control an internal rotating bezel. Complementing the grey or white dial was either a black, 12-hour bezel, or the aforementioned red, white, and blue 12/24-hour, “roulette” bezel.
Without taking anything away from the black bezel, the roulette is something to be seen. The added pop of color is so quintessentially ‘70s, if it came with polyester strap, it would have ripped a hole in the time-space continuum (this is unverifiable). Omega used a similarly colored bezel for its Chronostop, as well as the re-released Bullhead. In good condition, a black bezel 145.019 typically goes for somewhere in the $3,000 to $3,200 range, while a roulette variant is often overpriced in the upper $3,000 to possibly $4,000 territory. If you’re on the hunt for one, be patient. Unless you have the money to throw around, you should be able to find a roulette for $3,500 or so.
Despite the recycling of parts, and the apparent and complete mish-mash of concepts, Omega released a winner with the Soccer Timer. In my opinion, amongst the masses of 861-powered Speedmasters, the Soccer Timer is a great way to differentiate your wrist while getting the same reliable benefits. It’s a rare bird these days, but the hunt is worth it. This is one reference I hope Omega stays away from, what with their recent push to re-issue just about every old reference in the archives – I don’t think they could make it any better than they already did.by