The name Railmaster conjures up the image of tones of iron belting down a track in the Wild Wild West. Dust kicking up, dirt everywhere, the smell of grease, soot and fire, and the trainmmaster standing stoically at the back, covered in grime, looking at his timepiece.
Omega blindsides you with a perfect piece of jewelry, harmonious in nature, delicate in design and gorgeous in execution.
Rita Escobar or Dr Loveless ?
The question is, how does Omega (and you could say for that matter Rolex with the Explorer I, and a few others) manage to sell a watch with no date, no ceramic bezel and no display back for a comfortable mid 4 figure (GBP) amount ?
This is obviously no consumer casual purchase. Is this just a purist dream ? Is is merely a whim for the simpler moods in life for someone already with 10 watches ?
And what about the name ? I always thought that the Explorer I is really not an explorers’ watch at all, which is why I bought the Explorer II :) and the railmaster is not really a railmasters’ watch. Frankly the seamaster designation is easier to understand, that’s down to the fonts and face design.
Leaving aside tenuous comparisons for now, we should look at the actual watch, certainly based on the original railmaster concept but taken where ?
For me, the feeling that this watch exudes is pure jewellery - at the exquisite end. From the perfect size of 40mm, the tough but somehow delicate mildly tapering bracelet through the stunning vertically grained silvery dial, to super clear triangular pips in moody old radium.
At a distance it looks like a sophisticated but unflashy watch, up close it’s stylish, rich and intriguing.
Interestingly, some watches look big, some small. In this case, despite being 40mm it has that vintage 38mm look, but everyone’s mileage will vary.
The face is covered by a mildly domed crystal, clamped in with a steel disc. Subtle reflections but no distortion. The triangular pips are noticeable without being too large, and are filled with the wonderful old radium coloured lume. They have a slight 3D look as they rise very slightly domed in the middle above the surface.
The hands are straight and also filled with old radium lume, surrounded by stainless steel. The second has a dot of lume on the end. 3, 6, 9 and 12 fonts are clear, and in black, also with two concentric outer circles with minute graduations, and a simple compass cross in the middle. This design looks pure seamaster. Omega and the Omega sign are in the same black color with only Railmaster in a different colour, old radium, and in a completely different script font. Of course Omega can’t resist to write Master Chronometer, luckily in a very small font (the Metas values of my watch are extremely good and well within the range BTW).
There is a special feel to a watch which doesn't have solid pips glued to the dial. There can be more harmony between the dial, the painted writing and the bracelet. I feel that Omega has carefully achieved this harmony. That is why, in some way, this watch feels like a complete integrated bracelet, rather then a watch tacked onto a separate bracelet - the feeling of most watches. Its not better, just different, and something particularly pleasing if not encountered before.
The silver dial is stand out beautiful, and is what attracted me initially to this watch. I like all the dials, especially the blue one, but IMHO the silver one compliments the bracelet so well, and is light enough to make the time super legible, but at the same time really show off the texture of the vertical brushing.
The crown tapers into the body with infrequent bevelling, making it very easy to turn, and also screws in. The body itself is beautifully sculptured on the two sides through to the lugs, again something you only see close up.
What is unique about this watch is the entire body and bracelet are brushed This is great for “characterful” and less noticeable scratching, as well as making it look very special and unusual. There is actually one polished surface, it’s the inner surface surrounding the dial !!
The rear has a wild horse stamped steel medallion type back, lined up perfectly using the Omega Naiad locking system.
The watch is full of features, but in line with the characteristics of this watch, they are more for the enjoyment of the owner rather then the onlooker. The back is secured by a double Naiad lock, and with the screw down crown the watch is secure for swimming and light diving. The components and case are also designed for 15,000 Gauss anti-magnetic resistance and are enclosed in a soft iron core.
Hiding behind the coin back is the state-of-the-mechanical-art 8806. It would have been nice to see it behind a display back but Omega is steadfast in its singular vision here.
(sorry about the plastic still on the buckle :) )
The bracelet is comfortable and has gaps between all links which are great for breath-ability. The edges are all smoothed for comfort. The clasp is a butterfly one, and there are two half links for ease of fitting. Butterfly clasps are generally used to make the bracelet look seamless. Additionally, in this case the buckle is unusually small to emphasise the continuous nature of the bracelt. I generally prefer a safety clasp with micro adjustments and easy-link, but I understand why Omega wanted this look.
This is one of those watches that web viewing really does no justice to. You have to see it in the flesh, with all the enigmatic reflections, attention to detail and a presence unique to its design. The watch design feels totally in balance with itself and the wearer. It also has a steely nature and solidity to it, which means it could be used in very harsh environments if you really wanted to. However, the overall feeling is to extend harmony to its environment: suit - tick; jeans - tick; swimming costume - tick.
For those sophisticated watch wearers who want subtlety, beauty, resilience and Karma, there is something about this watch which, more then the sum of its parts, brings great satisfaction. It is beautiful to look at, comfortable to wear and excels at being an every day watch which can readily go on holiday with you.
Its heresy, but this could at a pinch be your only watch ...
Whilst the more exotic blingy watch may tempt one into a regrettable impulse buy, this one is much more the one you want to be married to!
Wasn’t that what taming the Wild Wild West with the railroad was about anyhow ?
Yup, something more Hayek then Klein ...