The 2016 Longines RailRoad; the RailRoad is back!
After having “collected” quite an interesting amount of articles about Longines, I have come to a firm conclusion, namely that there is not one single watch-making sector that the brand from Saint-Imier hasn’t had an impact on. The path that this manufacturer has embarked on is like a novel where the main character is constantly changing their personality and when you eventually think you have figured them out, they suddenly move to yet another role.
This is the very brand that contributed the most to the history of civil aviation by crafting icons like the Hour Angle and the Weems for instance, the same manufacturer that has made a belief out of the single push-piece chrono and that has paved the way for its reintroduction on to the market. Longines has played an important role in the sector of "railroad" watches too in a time following WWII before the advent of the digital revolution. The next chapter in the manufacturer’s long history is jealously treasured inside the Saint-Imier’s museum and this year Longines has managed to bring it back to life; I am talking about the company’s RailRoad watches supply to many European and non-European railroad companies.
The name RailRoad is not a trade-name but rather a standard and the double R that is present on the model’s dial marked that this timepiece could actually boast quite a few out-of-the-ordinary characteristics like, for instance, the guarantee of an accuracy to within about 4 seconds per day, antimagnetic and antishock properties as clearly stated on the case-back of the original timepiece. This watch’s name is Longines RailRoad 280 and it was the model with which, back in the 60s, the Swiss manufacturer supplied railroad companies of many countries among which were Italy, Canada and the United States.
The Longines RailRoad 280 is a hand-wound manual collector’s piece that measures 35mm in diameter and whose value on the market keeps going up day after day. This year, the brand with the "winged hourglass" logo has decided to re-launch this model by releasing its new 888 version where the three figures indicate the name of the caliber hosted inside the new RailRoad that replaces the original 280 caliber.
Bringing back to life models from the past is a specific strategy that all those brands with a rich history on their shoulders always devise but there is a big difference between the approach chosen by Longines if compared to other brands’; Longines re-editions are exceptionally faithful to the original pieces and that’s because of the incredible modernity of the manufacturer’s historic models that wouldn’t look out of place in the window of a modern jewellery store.
For this very reason even the Longines RailRoad 888 is a faithful re-edition of the original RailRoad 280 and Longines has resized the former 35mm in diameter to the current 40mm. This trend had already started in the late 2015 with the three new Longines’ single-button chronographs whose size doesn’t exceed the 41mm in diameter. We could probably state that “40 is the new 47” to highlight the reduction in diameter that is currently flooding the market.
The dial is as rounded as the original model’s and the hesalite-made crystal has been replaced with an exceptionally rounded sapphire-made “glass-box” crystal with anti-glaring properties. Even the original numbering on the dial has been preserved like, for instance, the indications located at 12 o’clock that sport a 0 number instead of the classic 12 number and also the internal scale located at 24 o’clock. The 888 caliber is a modern automatic caliber oscillating at a frequency of 25,200 vibrations per hour, it guarantees up to 64 hours of power reserve and – this is quite an interesting detail – it has been crafted by ETA exclusively for Longines.
Longines has created its RailRoad faithfully adhering to the characteristics of the original model and has avoided inserting new functionality features that could have ruined this timepiece’s flair. I am talking in particular about the lack of the date window that watch fans have enthusiastically welcomed, the very same choice that Longines adopted when it unveiled the first re-edition of the Legend Diver. The Longines RailRoad retails at 1,540 euro and it is yet another confirmation that the manufacturer is well capable of coming up with watch-making icons with an incredible naturalness and that, perhaps, a whole new collection has just born.
(Photo credit: Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®