All watch lovers know that brands love to rework vintage models. There’s nothing quite like wearing a beautifully-tooled watch that brings to mind the daring and glamour of another era.
And no one does it quite like Omega. The Omega Seamaster Railmaster 40mm is a strong example of how to create a watch that has modern specs its predecessors could never dream of, while staying true to its roots.
The Seamaster Railmaster, despite its slightly unwieldy name, is a practical hard-wearing watch perfectly suited to the railway heritage from which it gets its name. And it’s damn good for modern life, too.
Omega created their first Railmaster watch in 1957. The brand was already making strides into diving and aviation watches. The introduction of the Railmaster cemented their commitment to creating watches that were as useful as they were handsome.
Omega designed the Railmaster as a simple yet elegant watch made with railway workers in mind.
They brought the Railmaster back in 2017 as part of their 1957 Trilogy Set. This limited run box set of just 557 pieces also included special editions of the Seamaster and Speedmaster watches.
Today, the redesigned Seamaster Railmaster is ideal for anyone who wants all the capabilities of an Omega watch – whether you work on a railway or not!
Every Seamaster Railmaster 40mm is fully tested and certified not once, but twice. First by the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC), who put each watch through its paces. Then, the watches are tested by the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology (METAS.) To pass this stringent test, a watch must already be COSC certified. Then METAS puts it through even stricter testing, including magnetic exposure, water resistance, power reserve, accuracy, and rate deviation.
This is clearly a watch you can rely on under even challenging conditions. Let’s take a closer look at what’s under the hood.
From its first introduction, the Railmaster was a bit different. Watch lovers were getting used to diving, aviation, and sporting watches, and many big brands made innovations in those areas. But this was a watch for those who worked around magnetic fields. It was designed for railway employees. Electricians, technicians, and scientists also found the Railmaster magnetic resistance made it a watch they could wear at work and never worry about it losing time.
Early Railmasters featured a soft iron inner lining that acted as a faraday cage, plus a thicker outer caseback, to protect the movement from electric fields. This was pioneering technology for the day, and made the Railmaster stand out among its contemporaries.
Perhaps rather surprisingly given how innovative it was, the Railmaster wasn’t one of Omega’s biggest sellers. Omega retired it just six years after launching it. Its lack of success could be partly down to the fact that outside of railways and science labs, not many people had to worry about magnetic fields. The Railmaster went over well with its target wearers, but the general public weren’t particularly excited about it. After all, these were still the days of rotary phones and certainly well before the days of electric cars!
The Railmaster was gone but not forgotten. From that point on, Omega built anti-magnetism into all of its watches. And as the brand created new designs and developed new watches and features, its magnetic resistance became part of the Omega brand.
And now the Railmaster is back with a fresh new look that nevertheless retains all the charm of the original.
This watch has a simpler look than some of the ones we feature. But that’s not a bad thing. The straightforward, uncluttered design is more or less identical to the vintage Railmaster models, so you feel like you’re truly wearing a piece of history.
And trust us, plain does not mean boring! The Seamaster Railmaster 40mm features a stainless steel case with a wave-edged design on the back, mounted on an integrated brushed stainless steel bracelet. You’ll notice that the design and writing on the caseback always appear upright regardless of how you move, thanks to Omega’s revolutionary design.
Most steel case watches feature brushed and polished stainless steel. The Seamaster Railmaster leans heavily on brushed steel rather than polished, and the lack of polish makes it stand out from the crowd. The result is a softer look that adds to the vintage appeal.
Before it became common to use non-ferrous metal in watch movements, antimagnetic watches needed a closed caseback to protect the movement, such as Omega’s original revolutionary double caseback. Although that’s no longer the case, Omega have opted for an old fashioned closed caseback here. Although open casebacks can add an interesting element, in this case we think the solid caseback was the right choice. It keeps the watch firmly grounded in the look of the original line.
Inside that case, you’ll see a grey dial with dramatic vertical brushing. The lines add plenty of visual interest, and catch the light in a striking way. Against this backdrop, you’ve got stainless steel hands and recessed hour markers, all filled with vintage-looking Super-LumiNova. The recessing adds dimension and means the Super-LumiNova is more or less flush with the brushed surface of the dial. The aged, almost bronzed, look of the hands and markers is another little touch that makes all the difference.
The dial also has clear black numbers at three, six, nine and twelve, and a narrow minute track around the circumference.
You’ll notice that unlike many modern tool watches, the dial doesn’t feature a date, or sub counters. While some collectors might feel a little wrong-footed without those features, we’ve got to admit, we love the simplicity. It’s another touch that gives this watch its own unique personality.
Features and Specs
The Omega Seamaster Railmaster 40mm might be all vintage looks on the outside, but on the inside it’s 100% modern day powerhouse.
An OMEGA Caliber 8806 movement powers the watch. That strict METAS testing ensures the watch can handle up to 15000 gauss magnetism, thanks to its silicon balance spring.
The Seamaster Railmaster lives up to the Seamaster part of its name with water resistance down to 150 metres. And with an impressive 55 hour power reserve, you can take it off for the whole weekend and it will still be keeping perfect time for you on Monday morning.
The Omega Seamaster Railmaster 40mm is a brilliantly wearable watch. It’s no-nonsense and solid, with precision engineering and tons of old-fashioned style.
The 40mm case is sturdy but not overly chunky. The integrated bezel and finely-tooled lugs make it feel compact and surprisingly slender considering its actual dimensions.
The dial is easy to read, with baton shaped minute and hour hands, and a lollipop shaped second hand. Combine the shape of the hands with the black numerals and that Super-LumiNova, and you’ve got a highly readable watch.
The Seamaster Railmaster strikes a good balance between plain, and ostentatious. It’s got an understated elegance that would pair well with most outfits. It’s certainly not sporty, and it’s not highly formal, but it’s a great all-rounder. You could comfortably wear this all day at work without it getting too heavy on your wrist. And you could equally well wear it for a day trip with the family, a night out, or a cosy meal.
The Omega Railmaster 40mm retails for £4,650.
Out of all the vintage recreation watches out there, this is one of the most faithful. It fully embraces the look of the original Railmaster, including the straightforward, sleek dial, with a distinct lack of subdials, pushers, and other bells and whistles.
This is a watch you can rely on day or night, and that we expect will age beautifully and still be a favourite in decades to come. Definitely worth a second, and third and forth, look.