One hundred and forty-one. That’s how many new models Omega introduced this year at Baselworld. However, three of them in particular, for very good reason, have been enjoying the lion’s share of buzz at the show: the Omega 1957 Trilogy Limited Edition Speedmaster, Railmaster, and Seamaster – each, a pitch-perfect re-issue of its own CK29XX variant also released as a trio 60 years ago. Since they can be bought separately, or together in a singularly epic boxed set, we thought it best they be examined together.
Note that the watches sold as individual pieces and those in the set are identical for all but one detail that might bug some. On the dial under the Omega logo there is text that identifies the watch as those in the box set with their corresponding number out of 557. Practically, this makes sense to immediately identify the watches as part of the even more limited edition Trilogy set. I can imagine future "mixing and matching" being a problem, so it's a solution, for sure.
For this sixtieth-anniversary release that we originally debuted here, Omega dug deep into its own archives to reference its best surviving examples of each model to create a truly accurate and cohesive re-issue set. Therein, each watch is the end result of an impressive commitment to re-create most minute details on the source material, right down to the corduroy-lined presentation boxes and the etched Omega logo in the center of each crystal. Even the slightly nuanced differences between the Omega text fonts and logos between the dial, crown, caseback, and bracelet clasp have been recreated – a nod to an era where a lack of cohesive marketing assets led to subtle inconsistencies in type, size, and shape. Even in today's vintage re-issue mania, it’s still a dedication that’s not often seen in modern watchmaking, and a huge part of what makes this release exciting for many.
Just as in 1957, there’s a fair amount of design cohesion between Omega’s “holy trinity.” Each carries Omega’s signature "Broad Arrow" handset, finished in the same hue of beige Super-LumiNova – a nod to the aged tritium look on vintage watches from that era. Much has already been said about this stylistic choice, but whether or not you like it, it can’t be denied that white luminous paint just wouldn’t have captured the warmth or the spirit of the originals in quite the same way. It also yields a comparative wrist experience to the vintage originals, except these are fully capable and ready for an entirely new generation to wear as they were originally intended.
Like the SM300 released in 2014, the Omega 1957 Trilogy edition "tropic" dials (subtly lightened to mimic the fading common on many vintage dials) of the major minute indexes have been laser-etched out of the dial and then filled, thereby increasing the amount of paint used (and thus the intensity of the luminosity) while also neatly creating a subtle degree of depth despite the absence of any applied elements.
All three watches carry the same straight lugs and are fitted with the same three-link bracelet whose links carry screwed pins and are otherwise subtly beefier than the vintage editions. But instead of the polished center links found on the SM300 from 2014 (another highly divisive detail amongst collectors), which sought to emulate this look, the Omega 1957 Trilogy watches are brushed on the center links, and polished on the outside. It’s a subtle detail shift, but one that ratchets back the "bling" factor and feels much more in line with the utilitarian spirit of the originals. Each bracelet is finished with an overlapping Omega logo on the clasp – a detail that persisted on many Omega bracelets throughout the sixties and seventies.
But that’s largely where the similarities end and where each watch begins to truly stand on its own. The collection opens with the Omega 1957 Trilogy version of the Omega Railmaster – the vintage re-issue companion to a modern variant which Omega also introduced at the show (but more on that later). The new-for-2017 1957 edition is fully faithful to the original Omega Railmaster CK2914, right down to the 38mm case dimensions and 60 meters of water resistance. It does get a pair of key upgrades, though: an etched sapphire crystal, and Omega’s METAS-certified Master Chronometer 8806 movement – which kicks the significant (for its time) antimagnetic capabilities of the original into the stratosphere. This movement operates at 25,600vph, has a 55-hour power reserve, and is the same caliber used in the Omega Seamaster here.
On the wrist, the Omega Railmaster 1957 Trilogy edition is the purest and the most uncomplicated of the three – classic and capable, and after this year, Omega is betting on its collectibility. Even if Omega had only released this variant instead of a trilogy, it would certainly have been warmly welcomed, after seven or so years without a Railmaster in the catalog.