4 Of The Best Omega Railmaster Alternatives For Every Budget
James Elliott19 May 2021 | 8 min read
If you head back into the archives of great watches, the Omega Railmaster is a watch that largely goes under the radar. With Omega being so famous for their Seamaster collection, it’s no surprise that the Railmaster hasn’t got to bask in much of the limelight.
With its re-release in 2017 following a long hiatus, the Railmaster has actually become part of the Seamaster range. And whilst the ‘Omega Seamaster Railmaster’ is a bit of a mouthful, the watch itself has expertly combined its legacy design styles with modern tweaks to make it highly sought after.
Unfortunately, for most entry-level watch fans, the $5,000 price tag of a Railmaster is simply too much. Given the Railmaster’s fairly recent re-emergence to the market, there aren’t that many true alternatives when you compare on looks alone.
But, if you like the general stylings of the Railmaster and are looking for a mid-sized and stylish steel watch, here’s our favourite Omega Railmaster alternatives.
What makes the Omega Railmaster so special?
The story of the Railmaster began in 1957 when it was originally released as part of a trio of watches. The other two, you’ll have probably heard of.
The Omega Seamaster 300 was one of the leading water-resistant watches of the time, coinciding with the rise of scuba diving to offer underwater adventurers a tool for exploring the depths.
The Omega Speedmaster pioneered the art of mathematics to measure not only time but speed. Not groundbreaking today, but pretty novel in the 1950s.
That left the Railmaster. It wasn’t as sexy as the other two Omegas, but for those working around magnets, this watch broke ground. The Railmaster was one of the first anti-magnetic watches in history, offering a Faraday cage inspired construction to prevent any internal damage from the effects of local magnets.
Unfortunately, the Railmaster lost the popular anti-magnetic vote to the Rolex Milgauss. Despite a number of special editions for the US Air Force and American Railways, the Railmaster was discontinued in 1963 – a mere 6-year run on the market.
In 2003, the Railmaster was re-released for the mass market as part of a push towards vintage-inspired, modern watches. 36mm, 39mm, and 42mm size options meant there was a model for all wrist sizes but the design wasn’t updated and again, Omega pulled it back out in 2012.
Then we come to 2017, the third (and hopefully final) re-launch of the Railmaster. This time Omega learnt their lessons, updating the design to appeal to modern tastes as well as slotting the Railmaster into the Seamaster range to create the ‘Seamaster Railmaster’.
It’s a pretty wordy name, and no one is really sure why they did this. Popular thinking is that Omega wanted to use the well-known Seamaster name to give the watch an extra marketing push. Whilst I understand the logic, it doesn’t really affect the watch!
The modern-day Railmaster is a stylish, mid-sized 40mm watch that combines a simple but unique dial design, with those light orange pointed hour markers matching with pointed baton hands and numerals at 12, 3, 6 & 9.
It’s not until you get the Railmaster on your wrist that you appreciate the texture of the steel. Whereas a lot of modern watches go for a highly polished, almost shiny stainless steel, the Railmaster has a deeper coloured, brushed effect that gives the watch some age.
Railmaster Seamaster – Ref 220.127.116.11.01.001
Apart from the design, those that love the watch appreciate that mid-size along with the chance to get their hands on a little bit of history. For most watch fans, the Railmaster goes under the radar but for those who know their stuff, many see it as an underrated piece that would look great in any watch collection.
The 4 best Omega Railmaster alternatives
What makes it a great Railmaster alternative? – A fairly simple 40mm steel watch that combines numeral markings and pointed baton hands on a clean dial design.
To begin, we’ve picked out the Timex Allied 40mm Stainless Steel model. We know what you’re thinking, these two watches don’t look that similar. You’re right, but hear us out.
The Timex Allied delivers a number of characteristics outside the dial that Railmaster fans love. This is a mid-sized, stainless steel watch that brings together a round case shaping, a small and sleek crown, pointed baton hands and a clean, numeral filled dial.
Like the Railmaster, the Timex Allied also features a darker steel, this time thanks to Timex’s Bead Blasted approach. There’s also some slight light orange accents here, and whilst they aren’t in the hour markers like we see in the Railmaster, it goes a small way to emulating the overall design.
That’s where the similarities end, but the Timex Allied does also pack in their NDIGLO® lume, a good quality Quartz movement and 50m of water resistance to a fairly decent all-round package.
The best thing about this watch is the price. If you’re looking for a very cheap way to emulate some of the basic characteristics of the Railmaster, the 40mm Allied from Timex will only set you back around $110 at retail. Although, some shopping around online may mean you find deals lower than $80, which really is a steal for a good-quality, budget watch!
What makes it a great Railmaster alternative? – A well-designed steel watch that emulates many design characteristics of the Railmaster with a strong Swiss precision movement.
Next, we’ve pulled out the Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical as a great alternative to the Omega Railmaster. This is a fantastic watch in its own right and does a great job of offering premium quality mechanics for a budget price.
At 38mm, it’s slightly smaller than the Railmaster but matches up in its general build and case appearance. Within that circular case, you’re getting a great blend of triangular hour markers, numerals, pointed baton hands and a plain black dial.
Characteristically, that aligns pretty closely to the Railmaster even though the proportions and exact design doesn’t match. As part of Hamilton’s field watch range, the Mechanical delivers robust build quality all around and is branded as being fully ‘adventure proof’.
Hamilton’s H-50 movement deliver highly accurate mechanical time-keeping, with an extended power reserve keeping you going for up to 80 hours. You’re also getting a sapphire crystal and 50m of water resistance to round off the package.
Cost-wise, you’ll be able to get your hands on a Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical, with a steel bracelet, for around $500. This is a great alternative to the Railmaster if you want a watch that doesn’t compromise on Swiss quality whilst being pretty affordable.
What makes it a great Railmaster alternative? – A strong steel watch that delivers a similar size to the Railmaster whilst combining numbering and arrows on the dial.
Our next alternative looks and feels a little different to the Railmaster. The Seiko Prospex range is one of the most popular budget watch lines for those that love a bit of an adventure, with the Alpinist, in particular, a popular choice for those that like field watches.
Specifically, we’ve picked out the SPB155J1 model if you’re looking for an alternative to the Railmaster that’s a little bit different.
The Seiko matches up closely to the Railmaster in terms of size, case style and on parts of the dial design. At 38mm, the Seiko Alpinist is perfect for those with smaller wrists, with the circular case shape blending in perfectly to the steel bracelet.
On the dial, you’ll find a similar blend of triangular shape hour markings and numerals but the Seiko does deviate away from the Railmaster in other areas thanks to its speckled green dial colour, baton/Mercedes hand combination, and a date window at 3 o’clock.
Inside the case, you’ll get a 6R35 automatic movement from Seiko that delivers 70 hours of power reserve to an accuracy of -15/+25 seconds per day. The watch is also rounded off with an AR sapphire crystal and 200m of water resistance to keep you secure when heading into the ocean.
At around $700, the Seiko Alpinist is a watch that’s definitely creeping into mid-range price territory. But for that money, you’re getting a watch that does share some Railmaster characteristics but is also a fantastic watch in its own right!
What makes it a great Railmaster alternative? – Very similar design themes on the dial, even with a different colour combination and a high-quality Swiss movement.
For those whose watchmaking knowledge focuses on the mainstream, there’s a chance you won’t have heard of Zodiac. The Swiss outfit actually has a rich history that dates all the way back to the 1880s, when they were founded by Ariste Calame.
One of their more popular watches of recent times, the Jetomatic, is the model we’ve picked out as our last Railmaster alternative.
This is mainly because the design stylings, especially around the ring of the dial, are so similar to those of the Railmaster. The combination of arrows and numerals matches perfectly, with a clean black dial sitting behind that design just like the Railmaster.
There’s also a similarly round case styling and slender hands – although the Jetomatic’s are slightly fatter. The key difference, though, is the colouring, with Zodiac delivering a high contrast cream offset against that black dial, rather than the orange we see on the Railmaster.
Whilst the picture above may not do it justice, the Jetomatic is slightly bigger at 42mm. You do get a high powered Swiss movement here, though, alongside a sapphire crystal, 100 meters of water resistance and a date window found between the 4 and 5 o’clock positions.
The Jetomatic no longer retails directly from Zodiac, but shop around on an authorised online dealer, and you’ll be able to pick up one of these watches for around $1,100. For that price, you’re getting a watch that’s remarkably close in design to the Railmaster and comes the closest of all our alternatives to matching the sort of high-quality Swiss movement you’re going to get from Omega.
The Railmaster is one of the most underrated watches in the Omega range. Since its inception in 1957, the watch has always been overlooked by its big brothers, the Seamaster and the Speedmaster.
Fast forward to 2017, and with a re-release as part of the Seamaster range, the Railmaster is finally getting the recognition it deserves as a sleek and modern steel watch that’s heaped in history.
Whilst that background of unpopularity does mean there aren’t many like-for-like alternatives out there, there are some watches that emulate certain traits of the Railmaster without having to pay Omega prices. The four above are our favourite examples, but if you search hard enough, you may just find others on the market that offer the Railmaster look and feel on a much smaller budget.