Some watches are important for their technical innovation. Over the years, different movement technologies have made their way onto our wrists with varying degrees of commercial and timekeeping success, but they all tell a story that’s critical to understanding watches from a historical perspective. Other watches are important and remembered for the way they put a stamp on our collective memories of popular culture. For enthusiasts and casual watch fans alike, the timepieces worn by our favorite movie stars and musicians often left an indelible impression. It’s exceedingly rare for a watch to come along that is as hugely important on its technical merits as it is a cherished piece of Americana, but the Hamilton Ventura fits the bill. With its novel electric movement, and ties to the King of Rock and Roll, it holds a special place in watch history, and continues to excite watch fans today.
The Ventura was introduced by Hamilton at a New York press conference in January of 1957. The distinctive boomerang shape was the brainchild of designer Richard Arbib, who had made a name for himself as a designer of cars earlier in the decade and (no joke) artillery for the US military during World War II. “He admitted in later years the Ventura was based on a bomb design,” says noted Hamilton historian and Unwind In Time proprietor, Jarett Harkness.