Besides its tradition of fine watchmaking, Switzerland is also known for having one of the best rail services with trains that are rarely late. To give you an idea just how punctual the Swiss railways are, a couple of years ago nearly 90 percent of all trains reached their destinations on time or with a delay of less than three minutes. It is, of course, quite logical, that precision like this necessitates timekeeping equipment that is equally precise and reliable. Enter the Omega Railmaster series. Omega released the first Railmaster model back in 1957. As the name clearly suggests, the watch was designed with railway stays in mind.
Interestingly, this doesn’t simply mean accuracy to help these people stay on schedule, but also magnetic protection. Working with trains often means close proximity to strong electrical fields, which create strong magnetic fields that can affect the workings of mechanical timepieces. This was especially true for crews working on old diesel-electric locomotives wit. e Railmaster, however, came equipped with an inner protective case that guaranteed reliable precision even when the watch was exposed to magnetic fields of up to 1,000 gauss. In comparison, most watches produced at the time that were said to be “anti-magnetic” offered protection ratings of only around 60 gauss—about as powerful as small fridge magnets.
Naturally, the Railmaster quickly earned a reputation among railway workers and beyond. Today, 60 years after its debut, the venerable Railmaster returns.
A Classic, Upgraded
The newly re-released Railmaster bears all the hallmarks of the original 1957 timepiece, with a simplicity in design that belies a subtle elegance. Of course, the original Railmaster’s main selling point at the time has received a substantial upgrade—which comes as no surprise as Omega has been, and still is, one of the leaders in anti-magnetic innovation.
To this end, the new Railmaster comes equipped with the Master Chronometer Calibre 8806 movement. As the Master Chronometer certification entails, this watch not only conforms to the highest standards of timekeeping accuracy as verified by METAS— the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology—but also o ers incredible magnetic resistance.
In fact, the new Railmaster can maintain accurate timekeeping while being subjected to magnetic fields as strong as 15,000 gauss—roughly comparable to magnets used in most modern MRI machines you can find in hospitals. To further illustrate this point, a magnet this strong can literally tear a steel watch of its wearers’ arm from around one to three meters away. Yet, the new Railmaster—and just about every other Master Chronometer-certified watch from Omega—can continue running smoothly under such conditions.
While protection of that magnitude might sound excessive, it should be noted just how common magnetic fields are in the world we live in today. On the lower end of the scale we have the magnets found on bag clasps to the fields generated by our smartphones and security scanners in malls, hotels and airports. Speakers of home entertainment systems offer another magnetic hazard. And on the other end of the spectrum we have the powerful magnets used in the motors of electric vehicles and industrial magnets used in industrial facilities and, of course, modern locomotives. This new generation of Omega Railmaster watches are now more than ready to keep ticking in this new world.
A Classic, Refurbished
design-wise, Omega’s new Railmaster comes with a new vertically-brushed gray dial. Much like what we saw on the original model’s, this new dial is ringed by a railway minute track. More contemporary additions to this look include recessed hour markers filled with “vintage” Super-luminova, Omega’s crosshair symbol at the center of the dial which stands for precision and the word Railmaster in beige for an additional classical touch.
Furthermore, the hour and minute hands are complemented by the popular “lollipop” central seconds hand. is particular style has always been associated with old-school railway signals. All of this, including the aforementioned Master Chronometer Calibre 8806 movement, is contained in a 40mm stainless steel case. The wave-edged caseback of the new Railmaster also needs to be described in a little bit more details
As it features a Naiad lock design along with Omega’s famous embossed Seahorse medallion. Finally, the newly reborn Railmaster comes with either a brushed stainless steel bracelet or an optional brown leather NATO strap. Fans who prefer something a bit closer to the original can also find the new Railmaster with a black dial and a black NATO strap in lieu of the brown leather option.
A Classic, Reborn
Omega’s new Railmaster offers us a unique look into the past and also the future: It is a clear nod to its distant roots as the companion of railway workers yet it also embraces the challenges of mechanical timekeeping in a futuristic world. So, in essence, it is a watch for engineers, and also a watch for all of us who live in a world full of marvels created by the best and brightest minds of our age.
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