The year 1957 was a spectacular one for Omega. It was the year when Omega introduced the Speedmaster, Seamaster 300 and Railmaster. The first two are probably best known, the Railmaster is a bit more a ‘collectors only’ piece these days. However, that is the watch we are covering in this review. The 60th anniversary edition that is, that was introduced last year.
You’ve all seen the Omega 1957 Trilogy box set with reedition of the three legends (if not, click here). Where the Speedmaster CK2915 was introduced for timing (sports) events and the Seamaster 300 CK2913 for diving purposes, the Railmaster CK2914 was meant for people working in professional environments where they would be exposed to magnetism. This watch was there for scientists and engineers,
The case of the Railmaster was antimagnetic, which made it perfectly usable in a environment where it needed protection against magnetic fields. However, Omega was not the only brand that developed such a timepiece. Both IWC (Ingenieur) and Rolex (Milgauss) wanted a piece of that market. While undoubtedly the Railmaster CK2914 was the least favored of the three models, some legendary timepieces still found their ways into the historybooks before Omega discontinued them in 1963. I’m talking about watches such as the P.A.F. (Pakistani Air Force) and F.A.P. (Fuerza Aerea del Peru – Peruvian Air Force) Railmasters.
Omega went the extra mile with the 1957 re-editions in terms of getting as close to the original in every detail as possible. The measurements of the case are technically identical to the vintage pieces. It is 38mm, something you rarely see as highlight from a brand these days. It wears and looks awesome, even on a larger wrist like mine (7.5”) regardless if you have it on bracelet or strap. The lug width is the same 19mm as the original Railmaster CK2914. Actually all three models share the same lug width. It’s a mix of brushed (sides) and polished (top of the lugs) parts. A wonderful little detail is the Naiad crown on the Omega Railmaster 60th anniversary model (with reference 22.214.171.124.01.002). The small symbol on the middle of the W is the mark of this specially designed part that would further seal the watch as pressure increases. This crown was introduced on all three models in 1957.
In many cases, a reedition might look good from the dial side but the case back would contains all the (specification) information they want to squeeze in there. Not in this case. The original Railmaster case backs had the Seahorse motif (very early versions even lacked it), the word “Railmaster” and the W logo. This Omega Railmaster Co-Axial Master Chronometer 38mm has exactly the same with only a minor change; the brand added the limited-edition number (XXXX/3557), the movement name (Co-Axial Master-Chronometer) and the “60th Anniversary” inscriptions. The case back is screw-down and the watch is water resistant to 60 meters. Lastly, the crystal is scratch resistant sapphire with anti-reflective coating and the tiny W in the middle. The original CK2914 model had a plexi crystal, of course. (As you can see below, the model we had for this review shows some scratches as it is part of the sample collection of Omega, and it seems not all journalists are careful with other people’s property)
Paying homage to the forefather did not stop with the case. For untrained eyes, the dial of the Omega Railmaster looks convincingly vintage. The font, numbers at 3-6-9 and 12 even the Omega logo look exactly as the vintage model’s. The dial– as Omega puts them – “black tropical dial with vintage recessed indexes” fits the description. The faux patina is obvious but not harsh. The Swiss Made below 6 lacks the two Ts, obviously since at the time radium was still used instead of Tritium. Today, that has been replaced by Super-LumiNova. The dial design with the aged look is perfect. It adds to the vintage feel that the shape and size of the case introduces to us. The dial and case are in perfect harmony leaving the spectator with the feeling from time to time that he or she is looking at a vintage watch.
If there is any criticism about the Omega Railmaster Co-Axial Master Chronometer 38mm it is about the movement. No, there’s nothing wrong with it, on the contrary! The Master Chronometer 8806 is an amazing caliber. To start with; it can resist to magnetic fields up to 15,000 gauss (as the Railmaster should be). There is more to it though. The 8806, as its name would indicate, is a METAS Certified Master Chronometer, an automatic, silicon balance spring driven, rhodium plated movement. With power reserve of 55 hours. We explained about these METAS movements here.
What is wrong with it then? Well, to the die-hard fans the fact that it’s not a manual wound caliber like the original, is a bit of disappointment. While I’m in no way, shape or form trying to protect Omega (trust me they will do it themselves) the Omega Railmaster Co-Axial Master Chronometer 38mm is not a carbon copy of the vintage model. Indeed, the other two members of the Trilogy have the same movement types just like their vintage counterparts (hand wound for the Speedmaster and automatic (also caliber 8806) for the Seamaster 300). Whereas this one does not.
A highly anticipated feature of the 1957 Trilogy watches are the reimagined flat link bracelets. The original bracelets (reference 7077 and 7912) are worth a pretty penny these days. The bracelet of the Omega Railmaster Co-Axial Master Chronometer 38mm aesthetically looks very similar to these vintage ones. It has wide and (relatively) flat links which are brushed in the middle but polished on the sides. This is however where the comparison stops. Bracelets have gone a long way since the early days. The new one is very comfortable and easy to wear. It matches the Railmaster perfectly but it’s no folded, hollow link bracelet anymore. The new bracelet is easy to adjust in length due to a genius mechanism inside the clasp. The downside is that the clasp has become rather large because of this. As much as I love the bracelet, still I’d wear the Omega Railmaster Co-Axial Master Chronometer 38mm on a leather strap.
All in all, Omega hit a home-run with the 60th anniversary Trilogy and its Railmaster 38mm. It is a great looking, vintage-inspired time piece, matching perfectly into the 1957 Trilogy. Out of all three, the Railmaster 126.96.36.199.01.002 will pack a punch as the most versatile watch due to its size, lack of bezel and complication. A great all-rounder or 2nd option if you already have a Speedmaster for instance. All this coming from a guy who loves his chronographs. The price of the Omega Railmaster 38mm is €6.400. It has a great anti-magnetic movement and it is a limited edition. You should at least see it in person to understand the amazing value its simplistic yet rich technical background holds. Would we love it more when it had a Hesalite (plexi) crystal and a hand-wound Co-Axial Master Chronometer movement? Perhaps, but there are definitely advantages of having sapphire and an automatic movement and as said, it is not an exact carbon copy.
If you would like to check out the new Omega Railmaster Co-Axial Master Chronometer 38mm or any other model from Omega please visit their site. Click here.
Balázs joined Fratello Watches in 2014 and he has been a fan of watches as long as he can remember. His passion for watches really took off in 2007 when he purchased his first fine Swiss timepiece. From 2007 up... read more