In any family, there must be a big brother to watch over the rest of the kids. The former American and now proudly Swiss-based brand apparently agrees to the principle and offers this new Hamilton RailRoad Automatic Chronograph (ref. H40686335) as the biggest member of the new RailRoad collection launched for this year. The only problem here is that there is just not enough family resemblance between the 46-millimeter model and the rest of the gang. Well, in some families that happens, too.
Call me inattentive but, to put it mildly, I somehow find it difficult to spot any particularly evident stylistic cue that is shared among the new ref. H40686335 and any other member of the original Railroad collection of premium-priced pocket watches. Well, the bezel is still circular-shaped, thank you very much.
The new RailRoad Automatic, which is coming in a matte black stainless steel PVD case, is generously sized at 46 mm as a sort of courteous nod to the pocket watches of the pre-WWII era that were often powered by monstrous hand-wound calibers. The choice of the case size, however, is done for the sake of visual appearance only, since, with a diameter of only 36.60 mm, the self-winding caliber ETA Valgranges A07.211 that’s ticking inside the massive body, is a pretty compact mechanism.
This becomes especially obvious when you look at the timekeeper’s sapphire back: the rear bezel here is unusually thick, which is a common problem for XXL-sized timepieces powered by standard mechanisms.
Well, the last year’s Edox Grand Ocean Automatic Chronograph I that is equipped with a re-decorated version of the same movement is even larger with its impressive 48 millimeters of diameter and 17 mm in height.
The ref. H40686335‘s black dial with dark-gray printing on it leaves a good impression although you will have to put a serious strain on your eyes to see the interplay of circles and scales on its face, all of them done in a darker shade of gray. The lack of lume on hands and hour markers contributes to the chronograph’s visual appeal but doesn’t make the task of reading the dial at night any easier.
Talking about the eyestrain, it was a great idea to equip the gadget’s sapphire crystal with a magnifying lens. First, it does make reading the current date a great deal easier, especially at the end of the office day when your eyes take longer refocusing to closer objects. Second, I can’t praise Hamilton enough for ditching the usual fish eye lens in favor of this cone-like one: it plays so well with the shape of the hours and minutes hands!
Priced at more than $2K USD, the RailRoad may be a bit pricey, especially for those who still plan to graduate to a “real” Swiss-made watch, but, given the quality of the mechanism that powers it, I should still say that the price is at least ‘competitive’ with other brands of similar value operating in this niche.
Hamilton RailRoad Automatic Chronograph (ref. H40686335) specification
Price: $2200 (MSRP)
Movement: ETA Valgranges A07.211, automatic, 28,800 vph, 36.66 mm in diameter, 7.90 mm in height, Swiss Made
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, chronograph, date
Power reserve: 46 hours
Case: Stainless steel, black PVD
Transparent back: Yes, sapphire crystal
Size: 46.00 mm
Case height: 15.00 mm
Hands: Steel, black
Strap: Black leather with white stitching; black PVD-treated steel folding clasp with “Hamilton” inscription
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective
Water resistance: 100 meters