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.

Esquire (Malaysia) - - CONTENTS - Words by robin swith­in­bank

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.

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