Omega Railmaster’s return, smartwatches, Longines’ Walter von Känel, Audemars Piguet’s Michael Friedman, Mercedes’ Ultra Man.
The reissued 1957 Omega Railmaster arrives on schedule.
For too long, the watch industry overcomplicated things. At some point, someone declared that a man’s wristwatch said more about him than his shoes, and manufacturers seemed to think that meant they had to make watches bigger, brassier and, frankly, worse.
That period finally drew to a close at the Baselworld watch fair earlier this year, when Omega dipped into its archive to relaunch the Railmaster, a classic from 1957 that’s loved by creative types who know a good design when they see one. The original was Omega’s engineer’s watch and made for an unsuspecting generation thrust into an electrical age. Its selling point then was it was antimagnetic: magnetic fields generated by electrically powered machines are a mechanical watch killer.
The new range’s headliner was first a limited edition anniversary piece, one of a trio of watches marking the 60 years since the Speedmaster, Seamaster and Railmaster were launched (quite a year for Omega, 1957). All three have been talked about by watch folk ad nauseam since.
But in the shadow of these was arguably a far more interesting watch, a non-limited Railmaster made with the no-nonsense stylish man in mind. For the six months since it appeared, it’s not been on Omega’s website, popping up only on fan sites. But at last, Omega has unveiled it properly.
As you can see, it’s a girding-one’sloins kind of watch, despite being untroubled by girth or superfluous complications. The steel case diameter is 40mm and the dial black (or silver, but stick with black) with printed hour markers and Arabic numerals at the poles, with a crosshair in the centre. The “lume” (luminescence) has a husky, vintage feel about it, and the central seconds has a lumefilled pip, for legibility’s sake. Beneath the dial is an Omega bullet-proof, class-leading Master Co-axial chronometer movement, independently verified for useful things like accuracy, power reserve (55 hours), water resistance (150m) and anti-magnetism (15,000 gauss).
It comes on a stainless steel bracelet, but is also available on a two-tone grey herringbone fabric strap, an unexpected move that’s all the more effective. In Basel, it was wheeled out while I was still looking at the anniversary trio, and it totally stole my attention. Why? Because it’s simple and stylish, a formula any sane chap can get his head around. Oh, and then there’s the price: GBP1,500 cheaper than the limited edition. Bargain.