Denim Darling: Omega Updates the Railmaster to Honor its Utilitarian Past

In 2017, Omega celebrated the 60th anniversary of its iconic 1957 Trilogy with three limited-edition timepieces honoring the Speedmaster, the Seamaster 300, and the Railmaster. Due to the success of that launch, the Railmaster was once again added to the brand’s core collection. Last night, we received word that Omega was updating the long-underrated timepiece with a denim-inspired dressing that honors the watch’s history as an industrial companion.

First, some historical background on the Railmaster. Originally marketed towards scientists, technicians, and railroad workers (hence the name) that found themselves in the presence of strong electromagnetic fields on a daily basis, the watch served as a competitor to the Rolex Milgauss, released in 1956, and the IWC Ingenieur, in 1954. The original Railmaster distinguished itself with a magnetic resistance of 1,000 gauss through its copper-finished movement, double case, extra-thick dial, and iron dusting. However, the watch did not have as much success, or staying power, as its brand counterparts or competitors, and eventually ceased production in 1963. In recent years, the series has been revived in a number of short production runs, including last year’s introduction.

By giving the new Railmaster a vertically-brushed, “blue-jean” inspired dial and the option to pair it with a genuine denim strap, Omega is hoping to tap into the substantial audience of nostalgia-hungry people with a penchant for Americana. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a watch brand utilize denim in a timepiece; Hublot has released numerous watches with real denim dials and five-figure price tags, but, with the Railmaster, Omega has the historical cache (or “genes,” pun intended) to back up its experiment.

Other than the dial and strap, Omega describes the “beige” lollipop seconds hand and minute track as reminders of the colored stitching found on denim jeans. While the seconds hand is, in fact, a different tone than previous Railmaster releases, the minute track is identical to previous versions, which is fine as it’s already in railroad-style, keeping the watch on theme.

Other design details that translate from the greater Railmaster collection include the crosshatch in the center of the dial, usage of 3, 6, 9, and 12 numerals, and conical crown. One choice that didn’t make it from last year’s watch is the always-controversial, faux-aged lume. This time around, Omega used a light-gray Super-LumiNova application on the recessed hour markers and stainless steel hands.

Along with the authentic denim strap that features leather on its underside, there’s the choice of a stainless steel bracelet. Both options look attractive enough and it’s going to boil down to how much denim you would actually want on your timepiece, which, to be quite frank, is not the most typical deciding factor in a watch purchase.

The stainless steel watch has a diameter of 40 mm and features a wave-edged caseback with a NAIAD LOCK system. Powering the watch is the METAS-certified Master Chronometer Caliber 8806 with anti-magnetism up to 15,000 gauss.

Overall, this is a purely fun timepiece. I find the vertically-brushed, dark blue dial to complement the subtly-gray numerals and indexes and stainless steel case quite well. The denim strap is intriguing as a concept but I find it to be a bit too much with the similar dial color. The Railmaster, as a whole, is underappreciated and was one of my favorite releases of 2017 so it’s nice to see Omega continue to experiment with dial variations.

Keeping in line with recent iterations of the Omega Railmaster, the “Denim” version is priced at $4,900 on its denim strap version and $5,000 on the stainless steel bracelet option.

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  1. If this watch is to commemorate a ‘railroad’ watch from the past it’s a fraud for no ‘official’ railroad timepiece would ever have a face like that. Faces of official railroad watches were based on a 24 hr clock

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