Omega Railmaster: Anti-Magnetic up to 15,000 Gauss
Omega introduced the Railmaster in 1957. Early models offer magnetic resistance to 1,000 gauss, while modern Master Chronometers can withstand up to 15,000 gauss.
An Anti-Magnetic Classic
The Omega Railmaster debuted alongside the Speedmaster and Seamaster 300 in 1957. The manufacturer designed these tool watches with different target audiences in mind: The Seamaster 300 is for divers; the Speedmaster for race car drivers; and the Railmaster for railway workers and electrical engineers, whose work involves regular exposure to strong magnetic fields. Early Railmasters have soft iron inner cages that protect their movements against magnetic fields of up to 1,000 gauss.
Even though it's not a diving watch, the Omega Railmaster is still part of the Seamaster family. With its triangular hour indices coated in yellow-orange luminous material; Arabic numerals at 3, 6, 9, and 12 o'clock; and glow-in-the-dark hands, you could easily mistake it for a Seamaster 300. The main thing that differentiates the Railmaster from its sibling models is its lack of a diving bezel. Omega only produced the first-generation Railmaster from 1957 to 1963 due to its similarity to the Seamaster 300 and very limited target audience. Today, vintage models are quite rare and, thus, coveted among collectors. The first new model didn't appear until 2003, and has remained in the Omega watch collection in modified form ever since.
Thanks to Master Chronometer technology, the Railmaster has been able to withstand magnetic fields of up to 15,000 gauss since 2017. Modern, non-magnetic materials like silicon and titanium make this possible. Omega uses these materials for important components, including the balance spring, escape wheel, axles, and pivots. All of this makes a soft iron cage redundant.
Reasons to Buy an Omega Railmaster
- Unaffected by magnetic fields of up to 15,000 gauss
- High-precision Master Chronometer caliber
- Shock-resistant co-axial escapement
- Simple vintage design that pairs well with a suit or T-shirt
How much does a Railmaster cost?
|Reference number||Price (approx.)||Features|
|CK2914||18,500 USD||The original Railmaster|
|135004||13,400 USD||Final model from the 1960s|
|188.8.131.52.01.002||6,000 USD||Limited run of 3,557 pieces, Co-Axial Master Chronometer|
|184.108.40.206.01.001||3,600 USD||Black dial, artificially aged Super-LumiNova|
|220.127.116.11.03.001||3,600 USD||Blue dial, orange second hand|
|2806.52.37||3,300 USD||XXL 49-mm case, small seconds at 6 o'clock|
|2802.52.37||3,000 USD||41-mm case|
Prices at a Glance: Omega Railmaster
The first Railmaster has the reference number CK2914, and well-maintained specimens of this vintage watch can sell for around 18,500 USD. Prices for the somewhat more affordable 1960s model with the reference number 135004 start at around 13,000 USD.
Omega released several new versions of the Railmaster in 2003. These updated models are available in three sizes: 36, 39, and 42 mm. They share much of their design cues with the original, but boast an improved water resistance of 150 m (15 bar, 492 ft). Inside the case, you'll find the caliber 2403 with a co-axial escapement. This feature makes the watch less sensitive to shocks and jolts. Due to low demand, Omega ceased production of this model after only a few years. Pre-owned pieces like the 42-mm ref.2802.52.37 demand roughly 3,000 USD in good condition.
The early 2000s also saw the introduction of the Omega Railmaster XXL (ref. 2806.52.37). At 49 mm, this watch is especially large and thus looks best on more sizable wrists. Unlike its smaller sibling models, the XXL features the caliber 2201 with a small seconds at 6 o'clock. Prices for this timepiece sit around 3,300 USD.
The Railmaster Since 2017
Omega overhauled the Railmaster and premiered a modernized model in 2017. Its case measures a moderate 40 mm in diameter and houses the Co-Axial Master Chronometer caliber 8806. This movement can resist magnetic fields of up to 15,000 gauss – a value 15 times greater than that of the original Railmaster. The dial also got a bit of a facelift, and now features a railroad minute track and vertical satin-brushed finish. A central reticle and lollipop second hand round off the new design. You can choose from a blue, black, or gray dial. The band varies by model and comes in nylon, leather, stainless steel, or denim.
The ref. 18.104.22.168.01.001 has an especially classic feel thanks to its dark dial and stainless steel bracelet. In mint condition, this watch will set you back approximately 3,600 USD. If you'd prefer the version with a blue dial and denim strap, you should keep an eye out for the ref. 22.214.171.124.03.001. This watch demands around 3,700 USD.
The Railmaster 1957 Trilogy 60th Anniversary celebrates 60 years of the Railmaster. In terms of design, the new ref. 126.96.36.199.01.002 is visually identical to the original. However, from a technical perspective, the anniversary edition blows its predecessor out of the water. Inside its case, you'll find the Master Chronometer caliber 8806 with a co-axial escapement. This movement can famously resist magnetic fields of up to 15,000 gauss. Like the original, this watch has a 38-mm case with both polished and brushed finishes. It also features an artificially aged "tropical dial." This term refers to dials that have faded from black to brown over time due to UV exposure. The Super-LumiNova on the hands and indices has also received a retro treatment. Limited to a run of 3,557 pieces, this timepiece costs around 6,000 USD in unworn condition.