Hamilton Basel Preview 2017: the Brand Revives an Icon

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For the past several years, Hamilton has been inviting watch press to a preview of their Basel novelties right here in New York City. It is a fun way to kick off the approaching release season, which begins in earnest later this month with SIHH. Yesterday, we visited with the Hamilton team at the Ace Hotel to see a sample of what the w&w-favorite has brewing for 2017.

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The Hamilton Chrono-matic alongside the new Hamilton Intramatic 68, but more on this one later.

Ventura

First up is the Ventura series, celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. Hamilton has expanded the line to include a handful of new SKUs, among them a series of PVD and gold-plated watches, another with a 3D-printed “denim” dial, and the Ventura Elvis Skeleton—an homage paying tribute to The King himself. The latter is mechanical (with quartz powering the rest of the Ventura releases), and it’s driven by the automatic 80-hour H-10-S movement that can be seen through the skeletonized dial.

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The Ventura Elvis Skeleton has a movement visible through the dial.

Khaki Air Race

Furthermore, Hamilton is doubling down on its commitment to its participation in the Red Bull Air Race, of which it is now the official timekeeper. To celebrate the partnership, Hamilton is releasing a new model dubbed the Khaki Air Race, a pilot-inspired, time-only watch with a sandwich dial—available in two distinct colorways.

The silver-dialed version is the official watch of the Red Bull Air Race.

Khaki Navy Scuba

Last year, Hamilton made a splash with its reissue of the Frogman dive watch series, recalling its ‘40s-era divers famously worn in the 1951 film, “Frogmen.” Coming in both 46mm and 42mm, the Frogman release was a hugely popular one for Hamilton.

For 2017, the brand is expanding its catalog of diver watches with the Khaki Navy Scuba series, a small collection of robust, 40mm divers pulling aesthetically from the Khaki collection. Despite its name, the Khaki Navy Scuba is rated to only 100 meters, a fact that some might take umbrage against. The new Hamilton Khaki Scuba is competitively priced at $700, and will come on a nylon slip-through or a stainless steel bracelet.

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The Hamilton Khaki Scuba on a bracelet.
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Now, on to the two standouts of the preview.

ODC X-03

One of the biggest on-hand novelties—and I mean that in the fullest extent of the word—was the Hamilton ODC X-03. First unveiled in late 2016, the ODC X-03 is the brainchild of Nathan Crowley, an Oscar-nominated production designer who worked on Christopher Nolan’s time-bending space epic, Interstellar. Hamilton, of course, has a longstanding tradition of working with Hollywood, with its watches having made appearances in numerous films over the past six decades. The ODC X-03 is actually the third in a series of watches–the first two being the X-01 and X-02–paying homage to Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (which Hamilton contributed back in 1968 to with a watch faithfully recreated by the ODC X-01).

hamilton_preview_19The PVD-coated titanium case measures 49mm x 52mm, and contains within it one of Hamilton’s most complex constructions to date. Underneath the sapphire crystal are three distinct sub-dials, all of which are anchored by a photorealistic, 3D-printed Jupiter. (Why Jupiter? It’s a nod to the plot of the film, with Jupiter being the point of origin of the monolith that  spurs the crew of the spaceship Discovery One to investigate.) The sub-dial at three is powered by an ETA 2671 automatic caliber, with the other two powered by individual ETA 901.001 quartz movements. This way you can track three independent time zones–sure, via a somewhat gimmicky execution, but practicality is not the name of the game here.

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There are no protruding crowns. Instead, the three crowns, which are fluted bars that can be popped out, sit flush within the case.
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The ODC X-03 is a great accomplishment from Hamilton, and despite its likely limited appeal, it’s a damn cool watch. It is limited to 999 pieces and will retail for $3,500.

Intramatic 68

The standout of the preview is, without a doubt, the Hamilton Intramatic 68. We first heard whispers that Hamilton was working on a Chrono-matic homage early last year, but the information wasn’t for public consumption at the time. Nevertheless, that tease left us very excited to see what Hamilton would come up with.

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The Intramatic 68 features a reverse-panda color scheme, with a black base and off-white accents and sub-dials at three and nine.

The resulting watch is an amalgam of several Hamilton chronograph references from the late ‘60s, among them the aforementioned Chrono-matic, as well as the Chronograph B, released in ’68 (hence, the name). At 42mm, however, the Intramatic is scaled up to a decidedly modern size, one that dwarfs its historical counterparts. There are no two ways about it—it’s a big watch, and given the thin bezel, it feels even bigger on the wrist. I can’t help but feel like 40mm would have been a sweet spot for Hamilton, appeasing both those yearning for a more faithfully-sized reissue and the general trends of the non-enthusiast market, which generally skews toward bigger watches.

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The Intramatic 68 on a 7-inch wrist. It’s big, but it wears well.
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Despite the upsize, the Intramatic 68 is an incredibly attractive watch. The reverse-panda chronograph layout (with the dramatic, oversized sub-dials!), the date wheel at six, and the long pushers play off the watch’s vintage references really well, and all the elements feel balanced within the larger case. If the size isn’t a deal breaker, then you won’t be disappointed with this one.

The Intramatic 68 features Hamilton’s H-31 automatic chronograph caliber with a 60-hour power reserve. It is limited to 1,968 units and will retail for $2,195.

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Ilya is worn&wound's Managing Editor and Video Producer. He believes that when it comes to watches, quality, simplicity and functionality are king. This may very well explain his love for German and military-inspired watches. In addition to watches, Ilya brings an encyclopedic knowledge of leather, denim and all things related to menswear.
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  • Evgeniy Lagutkin

    New Intramatic 68 chrono is a very great vintage-looking timepiece. It goes to top of my wishlist “want-to-buy-in-2017”.

  • Andrew Campion

    Whenever Hamilton dips into the vaults and does a rerelease or homage piece I get VERY excited. But it’s also a bittersweet because they blow it in some way! My jaw dropped at the sight of the Intramatic 68, but what is with the size? They did the same thing with the Navy Pioneer Chrono at 44mm. Don’t get me wrong, I love Hamilton and I always will. It just seems like they try to go back to their roots; they get so close but not close enough…

    I still really want a 68 though…….

  • logan2z

    Curious about the thickness of the Intramatic ’68. Unfortunately there was no profile shot of the case in the article but it does appear to be relatively thick.

  • error406

    Jesus. At 42mm, I’m out. I’d rather spend a bit more on a nice pre-owned Carrera re-issue. And it’s not I’m against the size, I’m totally okay with wearing a fat modern 42mm diver. But on watch like this, it looks like a dinner plate with two saucers.

    Hell, TAG at least actually modernized the whole watch inside and out with their upcoming Autavia throwback, this just looks like a blown up copy. So what probably annoys me most is how lazy this is.

    • Gianluca Brancacci

      Completely agree with you. You have no idea how excited I got, until I read “42mm”. Christ, what does it take for companies to actually deliver on what the knowledgeable end consumer REALLY WANTS? Damn it, I hate this “big watch” fad. I mean, even if you have a big wrist, you shouldn’t be happy. SMH

      • Mike Lewis

        I’ll have to disagree with you here. 40mm and under watches simply do not right on my wrist. They look great on other people, but for me, 42-44 are pretty much the only sizes that look decent. So I’m pretty excited about this great looking piece at this size from a company that I respect. I hope that we continue seeing vintage-inspired watches with modern sizes.

  • jwso43

    You’d think brands would start making more smaller watches after Black Bay 36mm’s popularity last year.

    • Could not agree more.

    • nicedream06

      Especially a brand like Hamilton with so much history. And especially since the overall style of their watches has been trending towards a more retro look. Last year they updated the Viewmatic with the old 50s/60s style logo, yet made it 44mm with a 22mm lug width. It’s one of several watches in their lineup that can’t make up its mind.

    • James

      Even though I love the idea of a black Bay 36, it’s far too small for me to pull it off…

    • JamesWWIII

      Maybe something from Hamilton’s ladies’ line will compliment your pipe cleaner wrist. I’ve yet to meet a single watch lover that owns one of the new 36mm Tudors. I picked up a 39mm Zodiac Super Sea Wolf 53 Skin from a Black Friday sale, and the watch looks absolutely tiny on my 7″ wrist.

      • R Khalifa

        I have a 7-1/4″ wrist and 38mm watches look great. Have not yet tried the 36mm Black Bay but I have no doubt that this Hamilton would be better off at 40mm instead of 42. The lugs stick waaaay out and the subdials look cartoonish compared to the original. Not bad looking, but could have been great. But seriously, lots of guys with >7″ wrists wear <40mm watches all the time and look good doing it. Don't forget dive watches wear small because of their bezel thickness, if you tried a 39mm watch that was all dial (say, the 39mm Rolex Explorer) it would be a totally different feel.

  • Nathan

    Love most of the releases this year. Particularly the new quartz Ventura’s (the gold with white dial is sharp, and I think the denim is fun). The intra-matic is awesome, and I think 42mm isn’t a bad size all things considered. The current watch market (ie, Not just watch guys on the internet) likes 40mm+ watches, so I think 42mm is fine. Beautiful watch, can’t wait to see it in person!

  • Peter D

    Urgh.

    Biver be all like ‘damn it I gotta take over Hamilton now! – look at the terrible job they did with the Chrono-matic reissue!’
    But sir you don’t work for Swatch?’
    ‘I don’t care Smithers, I must…manage….. entire….swiss watch…..industry’
    ‘calm down sir’.

  • Ethan Anderson

    FWIW Hamilton has released Khaki Air Race models in the past. I have the Khaki Navy GMT Air Race on my wrist right now, as a matter of fact! https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a12877af94d20a26dfec58c6cb03bc84c353a91e4f19e9e2727965585191e664.jpg

  • BM

    Disaster at 42 mm !! This could have been awesome.
    38 mm would have been absolutely perfect !!

  • Thomas H

    Wow. There’s a serious amount of gaslighting on watch blogs in regards to size recently. I have a rather small wrist and a 36mm watch looks like a quarter strapped to me.

  • Svetoslav Popov

    Oh, come on, it is huge at 42mm. The old original is such a beautiful watch, if I find one in good condition and at a reasonable price point, I would snatch it right away.

  • Rick

    What’s the point of vintage replicas when you make the watches so large? Not just because they are not “vintage” any longer but for those of us that wear smaller watches (40mm or less) the watch just won’t work no matter how attractive it is. What a pity as the Intramatic is a good looking watch.

  • David Smith

    Me personally, I’m really interested in the Khaki Air Race. Would love to see more pics of the silver sandwich dial.

  • Никита

    I was reading in heartbeat about Intramatic 68 until I discovered its 42 mm. Oh, please, Hamilton, why did you want to ruin the watch??? It looks like a frisbee disc.

  • Никита

    I’m really really dissapointed that Intramatic comes in 42 mm. No matter what wrist one has – this design simply won’t work at such big scale!! If you made it in 38 mm – I would be running for it, but as it is – it is a very painful pass…

  • James

    Why this must be a limited edition? Why? Such a beautiful piece should be in the regular collection IMHO

  • Crossing my fingers that everyone thinks like you all and the 68 isn’t popular so that I can get my hands on one. My large wrists would rock that.

  • chenpofu

    How thick is this new intramatic 68?

  • DanW94

    Interesting to see the comments and how the pendulum eventually swings the other way. 42mm is too big and frisbee like? Seems like just yesterday we all couldn’t get enough of those Panerai-ized 45-49mm watches. I’m somewhere in the middle, I like a 38mm dress and a 42mm works well enough as a sport watch with a 45mm at the top end without looking like a dinner plate on my wrist. BTW, love this 68.

  • I think it looks great, and the size is no problem to me. While I have no problem with smaller watches like my 36mm Datejust and 38mm SARB033, my Stowa 1938 chrono is 41mm and 1mm more is okay by me for a bi compax dial like this one. I will probably be in for one when they become available.

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