The Third "Master" In Omega's Trilogy of Tool Watches: The Railmaster Explained

Over the years, we’ve seen a dizzying array of tool watches designed for specific uses. Many we’ve featured on Hodinkee – pilots’ watches, dive watches, a soccer watch, even a computer nerd’s watch.

The 1950s and ‘60s found many of the big Swiss watch companies matching or one-upping each other with their tool watches. One genre that caught on, oddly enough, was the scientist’s watch, identified by added protection against magnetic fields.

In 1954, Rolex introduced its Milgauss model. In 1955, IWC countered with the Ingenieur. And in 1957, Omega joined the anti-magnetic party with the Railmaster which, with the Speedmaster and Seamaster, completed the holy trinity of Omega ‘masters (the Flightmaster came along later, and didn't last all that long).

So what was the, ahem, attraction of these fiercly anti-magnetic watches? Was it inspired by the Cold War and Space Race, when science was pushing limits and making news? We don’t know for sure, but we love the watches.

Today we’re showing you one of the originals – an Omega Railmaster from the late ‘50s. The Railmaster, unlike the Ingenieur and Milgauss, doesn’t scream its raison d’être. Rather it gives a nostalgic nod to the earlier days of rail travel, rather than the jetset era in which it was born. The styling is classic, with the elegant and highly sought-after broad arrow handset, prominent minute track and Arabic quarter hour numbers. Though the Railmaster has flown under the radar for many Omega fans, it is a model still sold by Omega today and some of the design features can still be seen on other Omega models. This vintage model is so clean and simple, with just the right amount of patina in the ochre markers and hands.

This Railmaster belongs to a Japanese collector and will be featured in Antiquorum’s upcoming auction on September 15th. The estimated sale price is remarkably reasonable for such a collectible classic, looking to fetch between five and seven thousand dollars. Get the details here.

Quick Tip: Three watches were launched in 1957 by Omega; and they all featured broad-arrow hands.  They were the Railmaster seen here, the original Speedmaster, and the Ranchero.  All three of which are highly sought-after by collectors.