Review: Baselworld 2017 New Omega Railmaster Collection

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While the new limited edition “Master” Trilogy of Speedmaster, Seamaster and Railmaster took centrestage for Omega at Baselworld 2017. A quiet sleeper hit remained off the press releases and public pages for the Bienne manufacture – we are talking about the new Omega Railmaster Collection.

Historically speaking, true railroad watches were among the most stringent of certified watches before the turn of the 1900s thanks to a disastrous collision between two passenger trains in Ohio in April of 1891. Official RR (Railroad) Standards required watches to be precise to within 30 seconds per week, the earliest chronometer specs; regulated to five positions; accurate even in temperatures from -1 degrees celsius to 35 degrees celsius; equipped with fine adjustment index, double plates, high legible dial with bold Arabic numerals and broad hands. Though protectionist requirements had prevented Omega’s entry into the US market (which allowed brands like Hamilton and Waltham to flourish), Omega and her sister brands Brandt-Omega and Gurzelen had established themselves with a stellar reputation for railroad watches by the end of the 19th century that they literally cornered the market in Europe (including Turkey and Russia), as far north as Norway, as far south as Ethiopia and Nigeria, across the atlantic in Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, and Canada, across the pacific in China and Australia even. Thus, it can be argued that Railroad watches were standard bearers of the manufacture even before their first timing chronometers in their Olympic chronographs and even before NASA’s official Speedmasters. When the Railmaster collection finally debuted wristworn versions of their epic Railroad pocket watches in 1957, Omega was merely continuing a rich history of precision railroad instruments.

Baselworld 2017 New Omega Railmaster Collection


In terms of provenance, the Omega Railmaster prototype was completed on 27th October 1955 and was delivered in final form on 17th January 1956 to Hatch Co., Omega’s official agent in Canada. The Ref. CK 2777’s calibre 283 was equipped with swan’s neck index for precision adjustment. Dial side, the matt white dial with minute track punctuated by radium dots and Arabic numerals was highly legible. Omega Railmaster watches were also produced for the Royal Air Force with an antimagnetic steel case.

Contrast the series production new Omega Railmaster versus the Omega Railmaster 60th anniversary limited edition pictured here.

By the time the 1957 ref. CK 2914 Omega Railmaster debuted, (the one whence the “Trilogy” edition is descended from), the double-case anti-magnetic was already one of the most robust references within Omega’s collection of watches. The double case itself consisted of an outer case – 60 meter water resistant Staybrite stainless steel case with polished and bevelled bezel. Reinforced crystal and screwed caseback with o-ring gasket also allowed the watch to resist up to 60 meters depth. The inner case was an “Armco” calotte with casing ring and 1mm thick soft-iron dial vs. 0.4mm for a standard for improved shield against magnetic fields higher than 900 gauss, multiples greater than 60 as required for antimagnetic watches of the day.

Case, Dial and Hands

In terms of aesthetics, the DNA of matt black oxidised dial, minute circle strokes, block Arabic numerals at the quarters, arrowhead hands or dauphine hands were set. The new series Omega Railmaster is not exactly that model, BUT it is the Rogue One to the original Railmaster’s New Hope. 40mm in diameter and 12.5 mm thick, the new Railmaster is beating a quiet path to becoming one of THE tool watches to watch for Baselworld 2017. Eye-catching cross-hair design on vertically brushed steel with slim rather than thick Arabic numerals, the new Omega Railmaster from Baselworld 2017 embodies the art deco aesthetic. The sword hands are also nicely reminiscent of those on the original models delivered to Hatch Co. in 1956. The lollipop seconds hand with faux-aged lume and dagger hour markers also reinforce its vintage appeal.


Like the original Railmaster, the new edition is anti-magnetic and though the Master Co-Axial calibre which drives it is METAS certified for anti-magnetism and chronometer specs, the caseback of the new Omega Railmaster collection is a period authentic closed case. No official details have yet been released by Omega as to the specific calibre but it’s a good chance that it’s the Master Co-Axial 8806.

Concluding Thoughts

The new Omega Railmaster is water resistant to 150 metres and is impressively priced to move. On leather strap, it is expected to retail for US$4,900. The premium for steel bracelet isn’t much more expensive either, priced at US$5,100. The thick applied dagger lume hour markers and lollipop seconds hand carry enough retro appeal for the hipster in you. It’s priced lower than an entry level Rolex and arguably more identifiable, Omega has literally made watch collectors an offer they wouldn’t refuse.


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  1. Just another guy on the web on

    I tried this watch on-wrist in an Omega boutique today and…well the case is blocky, quite thick and unrefined. It shares this characteristic with the Black Bay; a modern style? Also the handset seems pretty basic. Anyway, I have to say it didn’t scream “quality watch”. I know one can’t really know a watch until one’s worn it for a few days and had a good look with a loupe, but given the fact that the SMP has just gone up drastically in price too, I think Omega are now over-reaching as Swatch try to position them alongside Rolex.
    The products cannot support this strategy.
    Last week, I tried the MB ultrathin at less than half the price of the Railmaster and it has great charm and class; something the “arms race” brands seem to have lost.

  2. Just another guy on the web on

    I like this one. It is Omega’s answer to both The Explorer and Millgaus in one watch. At the price, it is a steal.

  3. The “crosshairs” are actually a nod to the Omega certified chronometers from the 1950s and 1960s particularly the Constellation line. Omega used the “crosshairs” to signify the official chronometer status of the watch. They are nothing to do with the JKC Geophysic.

  4. Duncan Moir on

    Crosshairs and font are what do it for me! Lovely looking piece. Any idea anyone as to when this might be available?

  5. I’m with you completely. They nailed the LE and blew it with this one. Why couldn’t they just keep that design? Frustrating. I used to have a 39mm Railmaster and was hoping for this to be reissued. I’m not saying this is a bad watch, but I’ll hold my money and either eventually get an old 36mm Railmaster or if they ever make a smaller Tudor Ranger I’ll go with that. At least me money is safe for the time being.

  6. I’m late to the party, but I just wanted to add that the non-limited Railmaster just leaves me cold, for numerous reasons. My main problem with this watch is the use of a very bland numeral font on the dial. Sure, the cross-hairs borrow a little too heavily from the Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic from a few years ago, but the numerals look both boring and out of place against the dagger hour markers and picket-fence hands. As a long-time fan of the Omega brand, I had high hopes for a Railmaster re-edition. They did a nice job with the Ltd Ed model, but they blew it with this 40mm (which is too large, by the way) model.
    Either way, my 2009 Railmaster is safe.

  7. I actually love the crosshairs. Not a huge fan of the aged lume, but it’s by no means a deal-breaker for me. As far as I’m concerned, this was Omega’s best product at Basel this year by a wide margin.

  8. If Omega removes the silly crosshairs and replaces retro lume on hands and hour markers, the perfect watch would born. Perhaps the second version…

  9. It’s almost like they had to deliberately make the regular one ugly by adding those hideous cross hairs to differentiate from the limited editions…sigh. Why? Maybe I should have been a sniper when I was in the Army so I could perhaps resonate better.