Omega Railmaster Watches
Often dubbed the “Forgotten Master”, Omega Railmaster watches still have a very important place in watchmaking history. While it may not have made it into space, nor onto the wrist of a fictional superspy, this practical and straightforward timepiece is the underdog in Omega’s master trilogy, which only makes watch enthusiasts and collectors yearn for it more.
The History of Omega Railmaster Watches
The Omega Railmaster is an extremely special and important part of Omega’s lineup. However, it is often forgotten about – most notably in favour of its sister watches, the Seamaster and Speedmaster. Released in 1957, this trilogy of timepieces set new high standards and perfectly satisfied the requirements of their target audience. While the Seamaster hit new heights amongst the diving community and the Speedmaster established itself on the world’s racetracks, the Railmaster (Reference CK2914) was designed specifically for scientists and electrical engineers. Its innovation was that it was developed to withstand outside magnetic fields and still be able to keep good time.
When the Railmaster debuted, it was deemed to be the latest expression of the relationship between Omega and railroad, with the brand first delivering pocket watches to railroad companies back in 1895. Early versions were equipped with a special double casing that could protect the movements against the adverse effects of electronic fields of up to 1,000 gauss. To achieve this, a Faraday cage was formed on all sides, which was made of an electrical conductor – thus giving it a shielding effect. Omega used a soft iron plate on the back of the timepiece to create the cage and made the dial thicker, taking the industry standard of 0.4 mm to 1 mm. Despite this innovation, the Reference CK2914 Omega Railmaster enjoyed a relatively short production, ending in 1963.
The watches then lay dormant until 2003, when Omega unveiled its co-axial escapement and fitted it to the Railmaster. The design of this new version was kept relatively the same, apart from the inclusion of a transparent back cover. However, the functions of the timepiece were given a bit of an overhaul, with the watch now including a chronometer. The major surprise of this version was that it did not include the anti-magnetic casing – making it a real novelty feature of the series. Unfortunately for Omega, this version did not sell very well, so the Railmaster was again discontinued in 2012.
A further five years later, Omega Railmaster watches were once again celebrating a revival. The watchmaker released the limited-edition 60th Anniversary Trilogy version, with only 3,557 pieces being made. The size and design of the timepieces are virtually identical to the 1957 edition, however the new iteration is equipped with an updated movement – the Omega Calibre 8806. Updates in materials also meant that the watch was now up to 15 times more resistant to magnetic fields than its predecessor.
Limited Edition Omega Railmaster Watches
Out of all the watches in Omega’s Master collection, the Railmaster is the timepiece that has the most intriguing limited edition models. The brand trialled several different iterations of the Railmaster, with each one tailored specifically for different professional groups and only in production for a short period of time – instantly making them more collectable.
The first of these versions was the Railroad Official Standard, which was designed for train drivers of the Canadian Pacific Railway in the early 1960s. While this iteration kept the magnetic resistance, the design was altered to suit the needs of the profession. The dial of this ST 135.005 model is entirely white, with black dots replacing the usual triangular hour markings. Production of this timepiece eventually ground to a halt after Omega was sued for patent infringement by another watch manufacturer.
Another version, the Omega Seamaster Railmaster was created exclusively for the Pakistan Air Force. Because everything to do with the railway was condemned at the time, Omega was unable to use a dial that was branded with the name “Railmaster” when it was commissioned by the Air Force. To get around this, the watchmaker took the original Railmaster model and paired it with the dial of the Seamaster. These models are extremely rare and collectable.
Even more exclusive than the previous timepiece is the one that was produced for the Peruvian Air Force. Known as the Omega Railmaster Flightmaster, this watch was actually created before Omega officially launched its Flightmaster series.
An Often Forgotten Masterpiece
When compared to their more revered brethren, Omega Railmaster watches often fade into the background. However, when judged on their own merit, the timepieces proved to be a huge success for the manufacturer. They are incredibly sturdy and have proven themselves to be both practical and reliable.
Although their design is not particularly innovative or eye-catching, this is a collection that has truly stood the test of time and has proven to be a huge hit with collectors and enthusiasts alike. The watches are extremely elegant and can easily be worn while at work and for leisure.