Last year marked the 60th anniversary of Omega’s legendary 1957 Trilogy and to celebrate the special milestone, it released re-issues of the now-iconic Seamaster 300, the Speedmaster, and the Railmaster. Each of these watches was received warmly by the press and enthusiasts, with many selling out from boutiques before even hitting the shelves. Alongside the Trilogy, Omega released one modern re-interpretation piece that is not being produced in a limited quantity but instead will become a regular part of the larger Seamaster collection: the new Omega Railmaster. The watch is produced as a modern homage to the original Railmaster but features more technological updates and a contemporary look when compared to the 60th-anniversary edition.
The original Railmaster was produced to compete with the Rolex Milgauss, released in 1956, and the IWC Ingenieur, released in 1954, as a watch meant to assist engineers, scientists, and others accurately tell the time without disruption by magnetic fields. Omega first marketed it for use by railroad workers and the Railmaster name stuck. While the series didn’t end up becoming a brand-defining timepiece like the Speedmaster or Seamaster, every few years Omega revives it as a limited edition novelty.
The contemporary piece (Ref. 126.96.36.199.01.001) uses a 40-mm steel case with angled lugs, a brushed finish, and a unique wide-ridged crown. The dial of the watch is available in either a brushed black or brushed grey, setting the tone for the watch as a rugged piece; the black models use white accents throughout, while the grey model uses black accents. The outer part of the dial uses a railroad track design, broken up at each hour with vintage-style, faux-patina colored triangular hour markers. Just within these are prominent printed Arabic hour markers at each quarter, with a thin white cross visually connecting each. Towards the top of the dial is Omega’s corporate logo, while the bottom features a vintage Railmaster logo, again enhanced by faux patina, and the watch’s descriptors as using a “Co-Axial / Master Chronometer” movement. Indicating the time are simple sword hands for the hour and minute, with a lollipop-tipped seconds hand, each of which is filled with the Super-LumiNova faux patina.
Inside the watch is the OMEGA Co-Axial Master Chronometer Calibre 8806, with a 55-hour power reserve and a magnetic resistance of 15,000 gauss. This high resistance is not only indicative of the brand’s place at the top of the horological food chain in the production of automatic movements but also references the anti-magnetism that the original Railmaster staked its name on. The caliber is hidden behind a solid caseback featuring a modern “Naiad Lock” design, which is the same name as the technology Omega developed in 1957 to enhance water resistance. The watch is available on a canvas, leather NATO, or steel bracelet, with prices starting at $4,900.
Unlike the Trilogy collection, the Seamaster Railmaster wasn’t tied to any specific details but rather channels the original design in a contemporary way. The changes are seen most prominently in the enlarged 40-mm case, which feels quite a bit bigger than the vintage 38-mm, but also in the angular lugs compared to the straighter style seen in the vintage model, the ridged crown, and the brushed style of the dial compared to the original matte black. Other noteworthy differences are the outer railroad minute track compared to the vintage tick marks for each minute, the choice of sword hands compared to the broad arrow configuration, and the addition of the center cross to the modernized numerals and dial descriptors.
However, the vintage influences of the 1957 model are still present and accounted for. Noticeably, the triangular hour marks and quarter numerals are both very similar to the vintage model, as are the colorations on the black dial model seen in the white accents and faux patina. The old Railmaster logo on the dial was also a nice touch placed in the center of the modern edition next to the traditional corporate branding. The case on the modern piece, while more angled, still engages with the overall appeal of the original Trilogy, and the focus on ruggedness and anti-magnetism seen in this model is undoubtedly the overarching theme of the original, as well.
While the 60th-anniversary edition was meant to channel the original watch to some of its smallest details, the purpose of the Seamaster Railmaster was specifically to reinterpret the vintage model in a contemporary manner for a mass audience. Like previous Railmaster reproductions, this ethos might be why the watch is produced under the Seamaster name as the brand likely has no further plans to expand the Railmaster line, but rather keep this watch as a special and appealing novelty within its larger lineup. Regardless of its specific purpose for the brand’s long-term plans, the new watch has helped round out the anniversary collection and further carries on the Railmaster tradition of virility and no-frills time-telling.
For the most recent article in the “Vintage Eye” series, in which we compare the Oris ChronOris Date to its historical inspiration, click here.
Caleb Anderson is a freelance writer with a primary focus on vintage watches. Since first discovering horology, he has garnered extensive knowledge in the field and spends much of his time sharing his opinions among other writers, collectors, and dealers. Currently located near New York City, he is a persistent student in all things historical, a writer on many topics, and a casual runner.