The first-ever Omega Railmaster watch, the CK2914, was first released in 1957. It was a part of Omega’s collection of tool watches, which also included the Seamaster and Speedmaster. There’s a lot to learn about the Railmaster and what makes it one of the many classic luxury watches.
The Birth of the Omega Railmaster
The Railmaster was essentially designed for scientists and electrical engineers. What made it stand out from its other two tool watch siblings is its anti-magnetic shielding which served as protection for the Railmaster’s movement.
Over the years, there have been several attempts to protect various watches from magnetic fields. Although the damage is invisible to the naked eye, magnetic fields tend to damage crucial and delicate parts of the watch, as well as the balance spring and the escapement. To put it simply, the magnetic field can easily mess with the watch’s accuracy, and with a job like that of a scientist or an electrical engineer, magnetic fields can’t be avoided.
Omega Railmaster – Protecting the Movement
With a Faraday Cage, the CK2914 was able to protect the movement and made the watch resistant to up to 1000 Gauss. Omega placed a NuMetal plate on the caseback, thus protecting the movement under the case from magnetic fields. In its initial edition, Omega opted for the 30T2 movement which was later renamed Calibers 284, 285, and then 286. For added magnetic resistance, the company decided to make the dial to be 1mm thick instead of its usual 0.4mm.
Features of the Omega Railmaster
With a 38mm case, the Railmaster is made using stainless steel and is water-resistant up to 200 feet. Also, it doesn’t have a screw-down crown. Instead, there is a Naiad crown that pushes tighter against the seals with increasing water pressure. The watch also has a bold and beautiful black dial that houses white Arabic numerals along with triangular hour markers. While this is one of the company’s most iconic designs for Omega watches, the Railmaster didn’t receive the popularity it should have.
The watch also has different variations with rare, different colored dials. One of these rare models includes a version with a white dial and leaf-shaped hands. Throughout the production of Omega Railmaster, the company has utilized different kinds of hands, including broad arrow, baton, and dauphine hands.
In the early 1960s, the company began the production of a new version of the Railmaster. The dial was white and all the hour markers were black numerals instead of the iconic triangles. Some versions of this model also had the hours for twenty-four time, mentioned in red beside the black number. However, this model didn’t really last for long in the market, and the company didn’t produce any more Omega Railmaster watches until 2003.
The Revival of Omega Railmaster
Omega’s lineup of watches skipped out on the Railmaster until 2003. That’s when the company began reinventing itself by producing more calibers with co-axial escapements. For this purpose, the Railmaster seemed to be the ideal fit. It could flawlessly live up to the technical achievements that were put forward by the newly-introduced co-axial escapement.
Thus, the new Railmaster came in three sizes (36mm, 39mm, and 42mm), and as a first, it has a chronograph too. It is further equipped with an Aqua Terra style case, an exhibition caseback, a screw-down crown, and slightly twisted lugs. However, this particular version didn’t have any special anti-magnetic properties.
This version of the Railmaster seemed to be the ideal watch for all watch enthusiasts. However, it didn’t sell as well as the company had hoped and it again pulled the line back in 2012.
At Baselworld 2017, Omega released two new versions of the Railmasters. The first was the Railmaster 60th Anniversary model, designed physically the same. Therefore, it has the same hands, same dial, same 38mm case, and even the same bracelet. However, it does have modern movement, and instead of tritium, it has faux patina. Due to the silicium parts in the escapement, the Calibre 8806 of this watch is up to fifteen times more resistant to magnetic fields than the original caliber.
The new Railmaster watch, however, is an entry-priced model that houses the most recent Omega movements. It’s pretty clear why this one is a classic and why it should be in every watch connoisseurs’ collection. In this model, there’s an actual and genuine appreciation for the Railmaster lineage. It has the same triangular hour markers as well as Arabic numbers at the 12, 3, 6, and 9 positions. Running along with the dial of the brushed dial, there are new baton hands as well as a crosshair. The case measures 40mm wide and is water resistance to up to 150m. Like the original model, this doesn’t have a screw-down crown, closed steel case back, and a printed case.