Taking a Stand for the Criminally Overlooked Omega Seamaster Railmaster Co-Axial Master Chronometer
Some watches deserve far more credit and attention than they currently receive.
We all have our preferences in life. And that’s a very good thing, otherwise, it would become very boring, very quickly if we all lusted after the same things. But sometimes, the feeling of forced uniformity tends to creep up on us through various circumstances. The Volkswagen Beetle, for instance, was sold in the millions but not because it was such a good car. The same goes for watches, and to us, it’s sometimes baffling how many people tend to blindly follow the masses and not go for something more original and true to heart. This sadly leads to seriously cool watches being massively overlooked without proper reason. Case in point: the Omega Seamaster Railmaster Co-Axial Master Chronometer, a sleek, vintage-styled watch with an interesting history and proper mechanics under the hood.
In today’s watch industry, people are seemingly flocking towards steel sports watches of all sorts. And for good reason, as most are perfect, everyday watches that can take a bit of a beating. And honestly, there are really plenty of very solid options available. IF they are available that is. And I’m not talking about watches with an integrated design either, I’m talking steel sports watches in general.
We all know the state of the market these days, as some watches are ridiculously overhyped. So much so, that it’s impossible to get your hands on some of them without shelling out a huge premium or, even worse, “building a relationship” with an AD by buying watches you don’t want, hoping they will one day give you “the call”. While I’m by no means trying to offend people by the choices they make, it seems illogical to buy a watch at 3 or 4 times the premium just because it’s so very “hot”.
But does this mean it is the Modus Operandus across the entire board? Luckily, no, and if you’re willing to do some investigating there are true gems to be uncovered. At retail mind you, or thereabouts at least. Mulling over this very topic within the MONOCHROME editorial team led to at least one watch that is seemingly so overlooked it feels like a bargain almost, in today’s state of collecting watches. We’re talking about the Omega Seamaster Railmaster Co-Axial Master Chronometer or Railmaster in short.
The Railmaster returned in 2017 and was part of the 1957 Trilogy Set, along with a special edition of the Speedmaster and the Seamaster 300. This box-set was a limited run of 557 pieces only, containing all three faithfully recreated watches. Next to that, each was presented as a limited edition of 3,557 pieces which could be bought individually. The set marked the 60th anniversary of three of the most iconic watches in the industry, as explained here. Each one was modelled after a 1957 reference: the Seamaster 300 CK2913, the Railmaster CK2914 and the Speedmaster CK2915.
Since the Railmaster was reintroduced, it has been updated with a new size, new dials and various strap options. The Trilogy 1957 model had a 38mm wide steel case with Omega’s signature lyre lugs and had an almost perfectly replicated ‘tropical’ dial in greyish-brown/black with broad-arrow hour and minute hands, a needle-like seconds hand and beige Super-LumiNova on the hands and indices. The watch looks rather plain, but that’s the whole point of it as it is a direct copy of the vintage Railmaster.
Omega later introduced a slightly larger size, with a touch more modernity to it. It still featured the same overall design but now in a 40mm diameter. The dial was updated slightly, with a new font for the 3/6/9/12 numerals, a crosshair, vertical brushing, sword-shaped hour and minutes hand, lollipop seconds hand and newly styled hour indices and minute track on the outer perimeter. It definitely captures the essence of the 1957 CK2914, but with a fresh face. Next to a black dial, you can also opt for a monochromatic silver or denim-blue dial with the same layout.
All of these watches, the 1957 Trilogy model, are powered by the in-house Calibre 8806, Master Chronometer certified by METAS of course. Thanks to modern construction and materials, there’s no need for a soft-iron inner case anymore to achieve an anti-magnetic resistance of up to 15,000 Gauss. The movement has the well-known co-axial escapement with a free-sprung balance. It runs at a rate of 25,200vph and provides 55 hours of autonomy when fully wound. Although hidden from view by the solid caseback, the movement features the typical style of finishing by Omega, with rhodium plating, Geneva waves in arabesque and blackened balance wheel and screws. The non-1957 Railmaster comes on a fully brushed stainless steel bracelet, or on a leather or textile and leather alternatives.
This all sounds fine and dandy of course, but you’re probably expecting some sort of a kicker by now. Well, we can honestly say we didn’t really find one. Sure, at EUR 5,100 on textile/leather or EUR 5,500 on steel bracelet it’s not exactly a cheap watch by any means. But, and this is important, it is somewhat attainable for most people AND readily available through boutiques and retailers. And with it, you would get a no-nonsense, very solidly built watch, with a properly engineered mechanical movement, and loads of vintage-inspired character. And if you want to tone it down and wear it on that (admittedly rather cool) denim NATO strap, that’s all perfectly fine!
Sure, the Railmaster 1957 Trilogy might be a touch harder to source, but it’s far from impossible as well. A quick search on Chrono24, still the go-to source for most collectors, revealed about 15 of this limited edition Railmaster on offer, with some priced at or below retail. And in our books, that sounds like a sure-fire win.
For more information, please visit OmegaWatches.com
I wish they’d bring back the 36mm ref 2804.52 – the perfect size for this type of watch from my perspective.
I don’t think it’s overlooked. It’s overpriced even within Omega’s catalog. For that money, you’re a small step away from an Aqua Terra, which gives you a date, a jump hour travel setting, and (I believe) a longer power reserve.
Great write up on a forgotten gem of a watch. The Railmaster (non-limited version) is a very good watch and very much “core Omega”, solid, useable, terrific chronometry, understated and carving its own path, no hype, no influencers in sight. The fully brushed case and bracelet are quite unusual in the market as is the vertically brushed steel dial. The 40mm case splits the difference between the other 38mm and 41mm Aqua Terra watches. This alone makes it a great watch to consider though it clearly is not as “dressy” as the other Aqua Terras and it is a “strap monster” on a variety of NATO and two piece straps. Unfortunately I fear this watch is not long for this world as it has become practically impossible to find in Omega boutiques or ADs particularly in the UK. There does not seem to be any sign of a replacement either so my advice to anyone considering this watch would be not to hesitate and grab one before they are gone.
This is a fantastic review highlighting one of the true gems in Omega’s lineup. Every time that I strap mine on, someone comments about what a spectacular looking watch it is….and I mean in real life, not just instagram!
Nice write up, thanks for sharing. I have been looking at the aquaterra and railmaster for years and wanted something without a date hence started to focus on the RM. One of the problems I had with it, other than limited dial and lume colors, is that it looks ok in isolation but looks complete bloated compared to 2500 equipped models. I wish Omega would either release a no date AT or offer more traditional colors for the RM. Shaving the case/movement would be icing on the cake. Until then I’ll stick to the old model.
Proofing is good.
Watch is amazing
I really like the railmaster and would prefer it over an AT, but is one thing about the watch always puts me off… Imho the painted hour indices look horribly cheap.
With regard to pricing of the Railmaster compared to other Aqua Terra models it should be noted that the 38mm Aqua Terra shares a similar movement, the Cal.8800, this has a date complication but not the “timezone function” jumping hour hand and has the same 55 hour power reserve. So the proper comparison is between the 40mm Railmaster and the 38mm Aqua Terra not the 41mm Aqua Terra which has the more “advanced” Cal.8900 with a 60 hour power reserve and the jumping hour hand. When looked at in a proper context the Railmaster is not so badly priced at £4560 on a bracelet. If anything the 38mm Aqua Terra is slightly overpriced and the 41mm is slightly underpriced as Omega price the 38mm and 41mm the same as each other at £5130. In effect you are paying the same price for an inferior movement if you buy the 38mm. If you buy the Railmaster you are saving over £500 so you are not paying over the odds for the lower power reserve and lack of a jumping hour hand.
I love this watch in theory … no date, arabic markers … but the painted numerals look cheap, I don’t generally like fautina, and the blue jeans version with nice crisp white numerals makes me think of cheap jeans in a Sears catalog. And I tried it on at an AD and it just felt … insubstantial. I do like the arrow hour hand in the 1957. Some of the older models from the 2000s? I like more–no fautina, no blue jeans, sword hour hand.
At last a voice of reason regarding the present hype in the watch market.
Plus I have always liked Omega as a brand, so enjoyed the article.
I’ll add my complaint about the flat painted / printed dial . Designers at Omega set a very low bar for such a high price .
Not a beauty, by any means – on the contrary. A tool watch? For sure. But ugly as a working man´s barometer. Leaves somehow unfinished feeling, even by Omega´s standards.
Is this hipster Omega, or “my-first-Omega” selling anyhow?
Rightfully overlooked. The 40mm killed it from the start. Released in 36mm it would’ve been killer (just as the 36mm re-released Explorer has shown us). And, as many have already stated, the it is overpriced.
Very under the radar. I had one and its lug to lug felt too small for my 7.75” wrist. Maybe if it had male center links..
From BURT , The bezel edge ever so slightly overlaps the case body between the lugs thus creating a very sharp fabricating fit . This is not the Omega I know . In my engineering opinion this sharp-edge issue needed to be addressed and fixed at the fabricating stage . Is Omega going to correct this design flaw .
From BURT again , Yes , Omega/Swatch fixed my RM at the Miami service center . My only other complaint is on the Blue dial face . The word “ Railmaster “ in red is inconspicuous against the blue dial . A better color to use would be the color used to display the word OMEGA !
From BURT again , I would also use the same color ( for contrast reasons ) on the seconds hand , too . Since this watch is a time piece for people who work near Gauss fields it would also be appropriate to give the watch wearer a nice visual danger warning on the seconds hand , like yellow and black zebra markings !
More from BURT , visually the best way to know if your watch is running is to view the movement of the seconds hand in any situation . The point being you must design things for optimal conspicuousness . The seconds hand on the RM is wrong . The lume there is too small and the hand is too lean for adequate viewing ! These flaws are quite evident in the blue denim model .