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“Christine”: my ’57 LE Railmaster- a reality check

  1. Longbow

    Longbow Oct 3, 2017

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    It’s not so long ago that I posted a rather lengthy review of my 18 months plus ownership of the Blue Dial Globemaster (Reference 130.33.39.21.03.001). Since then I have become the happy owner of the limited edition re-issue of the 1957 Railmaster (Ref: 220.10.38.20.01.002); a watch that has more or less found a continuous home on my wrist over the last month. How can that be when the Globemaster is so good? To answer that fully you need to think of this as an extension of the original Globemaster review (https://omegaforums.net/threads/%E2%80%9Cthe-idiot-button%E2%80%9D-%E2%80%93-or-a-real-world-ownership-review-of-the-omega-globemaster.62685/) to put things in the correct context.

    The route to acquiring my Railmaster was unconventional to say the least (the story can be found here: https://omegaforums.net/threads/influences-on-your-current-collection.62122/#post-775479) in the “Influences on your current collection?” thread, so no need to go over that again.

    It would have been easy enough for me to paste together some historical and technical trivia about the Trilogy LE Railmaster, to pad out this review but that would be rather superfluous as there are plenty of other (paid?) reviews out there that fulfil that role far better than I ever could, so as with the Globemaster I shall limit the waffling to my own real-world experiences; warts and all. Which means you should look away now if you are at all squeamish.

    The Railmaster was more-or-less an impulse buy for me. There was little or no research done prior to sale, no weighing up against the Speedmaster and Seamaster siblings, no analysis of potential future or residual value. No; absolutely none of that was part of the acquisition process. It was simple, overwhelming desire. Put another way, the designers (back in ’57) and the re-engineers more recently nailed it! Job well done Omega!

    My Railmaster has been on my wrist and on its bracelet almost continuously since the first day.

    Photo 1 Railmaster under leather.jpg

    It has not been given any special care or caution in that time, so has acquired ….how shall I say this….a certain amount of “patina” and it has gained that patina far more quickly than my Globemaster did.

    Comparing the GM and RM I don’t think these two like one another very much. One gets to jet around the world (occasionally) while the other gets all the wrist time, but has to go to work every day. The Globemaster is the serious one; professional, responsible, dependable, taking the knocks without complaint. The Railmaster is the cool Rock’n’Roll party animal, always getting into scrapes and trouble and it shows!

    Photo 2 GM vs RM 1.jpg

    Photo 3 GM vs RM 2.jpg

    It’s kind of odd that the Railmaster has spent so much time on the bracelet as I find it looks best on a NATO strap and not even the official Omega British Khaki (sand colour) one at that,

    Photo 4 Railmaster NATO Omega.jpg

    but rather a no-name cheapy in dark olive green.

    Photo 5 Railmaster NATO Olive1.jpg

    Photo 6 Railmaster NATO Olive2.jpg

    and rather photogenic on the leather strap

    Photo 7 Railmaster Leather Strap Omega.JPG

    The official Omega NATO is (as always) of excellent quality and very soft, but the hole spacing just doesn’t suit me, they are in the wrong positions; a pity.

    Nevertheless the Railmaster has proved to be attractive and generally comfortable on the bracelet.

    Photo 8 Railmaster on bracelet.JPG

    When the weather was really hot a few weeks ago

    Photo 9 Railmaster in the sun.jpg

    I found the micro-extension system to be a bit lacking in adjustment range (circa 4mm in three steps)

    Photo 10 Railmaster micro adjust clasp.jpg

    but as the weather has become cooler it’s now fine.

    The overall bracelet quality isn’t up to Globemaster standards, the finish seemed to me to be rather razor-edged, lacking some of the finesse of the GM, but the brushed centre links lend the ensemble a very elegant 50’s look. The polished outer links are an absolute scratch magnet (more on that in a moment)….but strangely this isn’t irritating me; it’s as if the Railmaster is making itself vintage/aged …. all by itself. Given that Omega have mastered the art of forming Tungsten Carbide into intricate and highly polished forms I wonder why they didn’t consider this material for the Trilogy bracelets outer links?

    Total wrist time? Well, the GM has hardly had a look in since I purchased the Railmaster. This ought not be the case as the GM has the better dial, better legibility, more practical functionality (date and quickset hour), more robust bracelet, bezel made of Indestructium (OK Tungsten Carbide) and more practical overall surface finish (brushed where it counts). Despite all those plus points I have only worn my GM on a few foreign business trips since buying the Railmaster. So what is it that’s causing me to want to wear the RM all the time? Let’s go through each of the elements one-by-one.

    The Crystal

    The Railmaster crystal has this awesome multi-radii curvature to it; something not present on the other Trilogy pieces. I think the good folks at OF.net who focus exclusively on the Seamaster and the Speedmaster are really missing something here. I first experienced something like this on the Globemaster Annual Calendar and thought back then that I would love to see such a crystal on another watch…and here it is on the Railmaster, but it’s even better. It just looks and feels sooo nice.

    Photo 11 Railmaster on NATO Domed Crystal.jpg

    Photo 12 Railmaster Domed Crystal.jpg

    Here’s a shot of the LE Seamaster crystal for comparison (it’s pretty similar to the GM’s by-the-way).

    Photo 13 LE Seamaster Crystal.jpg


    Size (Height, lug length, case width and diameter)

    The Railmaster has to my eyes a near perfect case shape and size. It isn’t especially thin, in fact it’s only a whisker less than the Globemaster, but the domed crystal and relatively flat case/caseback give the impression of a fairly low-profile watch head.

    Photo 14 Railmaster Thickness.jpg

    On the bracelet or coupled to a thin aftermarket NATO means it will sit low and snug on the wrist. I can’t explain why but the GM appears to stand taller on the wrist.

    The lug-to-lug length (48mm) seems spot on,

    Photo 15 Lug length.jpg

    but combined with a relatively small case/diameter (38mm), so it manages to pull off the trick of looking vintage (small) and also looking modern (large) at the same time.

    Photo 16 Railmaster Wristshot.jpg

    I hope it and its relatively diminutive siblings trigger a general move away from the current super-sized models, but I’m not go to hold my breath in anticipation.

    It’s accurate and not overly fast! I was curious to know a) how accurate the Railmaster is over an extended period and b) how representative the METAS test results are to real-world usage. All I can say is a) impressive and b) spot on! Here’s the evidence after 7 days use without intervention.

    Photo 17 Railmaster 7 Day Error.jpg

    So, looks, size, bracelet/strap adaptability make the Railmaster an absolute winner.

    But there is a dark side to the story that you need to be aware of. If you can deal with it then you will have an ace watch, if not you will no doubt become deeply frustrated and a pain in the xxxx at your local OB/AD.

    OK, what am I talking about here?.

    I can’t speak for the other two in the Trilogy set but when you get the Railmaster itch you’re gonna ….scratch!

    Last warning before the scary stuff..

    Here’s the current state of my RM after a months’ worth of normal Longbow abuse.

    The lugs aren’t doing too badly

    Photo 18 Railmaster Lug Scratches at 5.jpg

    Photo 19 Railmaster Lug Tip Scratches.jpg

    The bezel is suffering a bit

    Photo 20 Railmaster Bezel Scratches at 6.jpg

    Photo 21 Railmaster Bezel Scratches at 12.jpg

    Typical desk-diver scuffs on the bracelet links and clasp

    Photo 22 Railmaster Bracelet Link Scratches1.jpg

    Photo 23 Railmaster Bracelet Link Scratches2.jpg

    Photo 24 Railmaster Clasp Scratch Fever.jpg

    But the super-duper polished caseback has taken the brunt of it.

    Photo 25 Railmaster Caseback.jpg

    I wonder if Omega has used soft vintage steel in the Trilogy watches.

    If this had been on the Globemaster I think I would have freaked out, but somehow on my Railmaster I don’t mind one little bit.

    The RM is possibly the first watch that I have owned where I am unable to find anything that I would like to change or significantly improve because any weaknesses it has are somehow right for this watch. My Globemaster should be the better package…in theory, but the Railmaster has managed to deliver something vintage but without all the limitations and liabilities that go with such watches.

    If you have the chance to try the Railmaster live I can strongly recommend it, but don’t be under any illusions about it being limited, rare or increasing in value. I think there will be plenty spare later in the year as it doesn’t quite fit into most people’s clichéd view of what an Omega should be. The Railmaster is a bit of a misfit in that Limited Edition Speedmaster/Seamaster crowd, which is probably why I like it.

    You might have been wondering why on earth the review is entitled “Christine: My ’57 LE Railmaster Reality Check” there is a reason.

    I first saw the Railmaster at a BaselWorld highlights event in the Hamburg OB but it didn’t really klick; perhaps because it was surrounded by all the other watches and in particular the two other ’57 LEs, all of which were covered in other people’s sweaty finger prints. However, when I went again to the OB some weeks later to do a ’57 LE Photoshoot I fell in love with the RM pretty much instantly but something strange happened.

    As I saw the limited edition number and mentioned that “double 4” would be bad luck in most Asian countries two things occurred: 1) I noticed a scratch on the case back acquired during all the strap/bracelet swapping and 2) a tune popped into my head. That tune was Harlem Nocturne. You know, the one played in the film scene from Christine where Arnie says “OK show me” and the ’58 Plymouth Fury starts repairing itself. Since then my Railmaster has the nickname “Christine”….I’m still waiting for the scratches to disappear though.
     
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  2. arcadelt

    arcadelt Oct 3, 2017

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    A nice balanced real-world review. Ah patina: why do we love, almost seek it, in vintage watches, but worry about it when they are new?
     
    Samir, Riviera Paradise and Longbow like this.
  3. WYO_Watch

    WYO_Watch Oct 3, 2017

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    Because one has been earned - the other simply created ;)
     
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  4. mikechi22

    mikechi22 Oct 3, 2017

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    Great review, Longbow! I enjoyed this as much as your Globemaster essay! There must be a cosmic thread connecting you and me! These are the only two modern Omegas I want and plan to have!

    There is something about that original ‘57 design that is magical for me! While I looked at all three, in the end I chose the Railmaster in tribute to my great grandfather and childhood neighbor who spent all his working years on the Soo Line Railroad, through the Great Depression up into the Space Age. We would have his retirement watch today were it not for an unscrupulous local jeweler.

    Anyway, kudos to you on your review! Next year, this time, I’ll add the Globemaster!
     
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  5. WYO_Watch

    WYO_Watch Oct 3, 2017

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    I guess technically both would be "bought" at some point :whistling:

    I can't lie, even fauxtina gets me a little extcited
     
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  6. Dial & Bezel

    Dial & Bezel Oct 4, 2017

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    A great read and a well thought out review. Congrats on your latest pick up!
     
    Longbow likes this.
  7. 63TR4

    63TR4 Oct 4, 2017

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    Thanks for posting such an in-depth review. Great to see some thoughts on longer term wearing instead of just the initial reactions!

    And I gotta agree with you, that crystal is a great detail!
     
    Pun and Longbow like this.
  8. munichblue

    munichblue Oct 13, 2017

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    Your review convinced me eventually to get my hands on a Railmaster and today I pulled the trigger. Now I know exactly what you meant when you mentioned that the „Railmaster is the cool Rock’n’Roll party Animal“. Let’s party ... :D

    Thanks for the final inspiration! :thumbsup:

    859EE562-048D-4F9B-BB27-5A26E5ADC696.jpeg
     
    joeshoup, noelekal, mikekchc and 9 others like this.
  9. COYI

    COYI Oct 13, 2017

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    Lovely watch - I really enjoyed reading the review
     
    Longbow likes this.
  10. kb.watch

    kb.watch Oct 14, 2017

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    Seriously love this watch. Thank you for sharing.
     
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  11. Longbow

    Longbow Oct 14, 2017

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    Nice one; you're most welcome and I like your bracelet wrist shot!

    Quick update
    I thought it was about time to break out some of the other watches in my collection this week (before they all divorce me) and started with my Sinn 857 UTC, as a work colleague wanted to compare it against his 857S UTC. Grrrr,:mad: I felt grumpy the whole day, so back to the Railmaster and all's fine again:cool:. The RM is an addictive little bugger.

    Another member asked me today what the OEM leather strap buckle size is as he is having a custom strap made....it's 16mm wide (internal width) if anyone is planning the same. But RMLE set also comes with a straight NATO strap and that has a 19mm wide buckle, so you have plenty of choices guys.

    Has anyone "re-tasked" the OEM Omega buckles for a non-Omega strap yet?

    Photo 26 buckles.jpg Photo 28 buckle & strap length.jpg Photo 29 Buckle width leather strap.jpg Photo 30 strap length.jpg

    Keep Rockin' those Railmasters folks! Rock'n'Roll Railmaster.jpg
     
    Samir, EauTerre, chronos and 11 others like this.
  12. abrod520

    abrod520 Oct 14, 2017

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    WOW that strap is SHORT, damn! Likely won't fit me
     
    jimmyjay likes this.
  13. Ninja2789

    Ninja2789 Oct 14, 2017

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    Great review and great to see that you're actually wearing it in your day to day. I'm sure those scratches are a pain, but i think they are marks of a life lived as opposed to a safe queen.

    Thanks for sharing!
     
    Pun and Longbow like this.
  14. adam78

    adam78 Adam @ ΩF Staff Member Oct 17, 2017

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    I've been enjoying mine too. My only gripe is (like you said) the measly 4mm microadjustment in the clasp. They could have easily managed twice that I think.
     
    IMG_2795.jpg
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  15. munichblue

    munichblue Oct 21, 2017

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    Love this picture, it’s stunning and shows the real beauty of the RMLE! :thumbsup:
     
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  16. blokk

    blokk Oct 30, 2017

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    Absolutely fantastic review mate. Makes me wanna join the club if I can get one somewhere!
     
    Longbow likes this.
  17. Longbow

    Longbow Oct 30, 2017

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    Thanks for the nice feedback, you’re most welcome to join our club. I’m sure @munichblue will inform you of the secret initiation rites by PM (rolled up trouser legs and such like). As to finding your very own RMLE just remember, where there’s a wod (of cash), there’s a way.
     
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  18. munichblue

    munichblue Oct 30, 2017

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    Just to fix you on...

    05F84D67-7E63-4405-B0F8-F5BDA3DA778E.jpeg
     
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  19. Longbow

    Longbow Oct 30, 2017

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    Another subtle aspect of the 2017 RMLE that I really like is the way the white text has an ever so slight 3 dimensionality to it as well as being highly glossy as if the ink/paint is still wet. I’m not sure if it shows up in still photos but here’s my best effort comparing a rather flat and lifeless vintage vs the 2017 re-release. To really appreciate the effect you need to see it live and close up.
    8F309DF1-CCA6-4F8D-BCAE-B3C65DB3CE76.jpeg
    D89A9E26-06D5-4D90-8E11-F86D5F7E84B8.jpeg
    Stupid really, but it floats my boat for some strange reason.

    Here’s a comparison of the old (image from Chrono24) vs new crystal side on. Again I think the 2017 version is so much more interesting.
    D2E5B78B-A36C-4D60-A649-E9E6FA48ABAD.jpeg
    4A7FE374-6AD1-4A59-93F2-A423D93A0F8A.jpeg

    You miss pretty much all of this with the Speedmaster and gain a little of it with the Seamaster.

    The Railmaster is a hugely satisfying, coherent collection of subtlety.
     
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  20. frazierspa

    frazierspa Nov 19, 2017

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    Incredible review, longbow! Thanks!
    St
     
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