Once Upon A Time In Hollywood: Hamilton’s Behind The Camera Awards and the New Black & Gold Collection

For me, movies are much more than just entertainment. Rarely do I ever have a movie (or television for that matter) on as background noise or scenery. Podcasts, music, and the occasional New York Knicks game generally fills that void. But, when I am in the mood to put a movie on, it’s no doubt an intentional endeavor. Of course I want to be entertained, but nowadays I really do lean into more of the nuances of cinema. I pay attention to, as well as appreciate the costume design, musical score, and cinematic delivery within a film. In addition to great acting and storytelling, all of these little things come together to transport me to another world for two hours and change.

A Couple Of In-Film Hamilton Watches Including The “Murph” Khaki Field From Interstellar

There isn’t another watch brand out there that has graced the Hollywood cinema screen more than Hamilton. Ever since the Hamilton Flintridge and the Piping Rock that appeared in the 1932 film, Shanghai Express, Hamilton has been providing watches as a part of the character’s persona, or at times the center of the entire story like the “Murph” Khaki Field in Interstellar or the Khaki Navy BeLOWZERO in Tenet. That said, Hamilton’s appreciation for movie-making runs deeper than just having their watches appear on screen. The brand understands that it takes an entire village to make a successful movie happen. So much so, that they’ve dedicated an entire award show to honor the tireless efforts of those who work behind the camera and have aptly named it the Behind The Camera Awards. This year marks the twelfth edition of the awards ceremony at the Avalon in Hollywood, California and I had the pleasure of being a part of the festivities for a second year in a row.


Touring Paramount Studios

Prior to the award show, Hamilton had a little primer for those in attendance – a VIP tour of Paramount Studios. This place is essentially “movie heaven” for those that nerd out about cinema. The tour began with a sizzle reel of Paramount’s best cuts from their vast catalog of films. From Indiana Jones and Escape From Alcatraz, to The Godfather and everything in between, all strung together with Florence and the Machine’s Dog Days Are Over blaring through the speakers. Between that, and an actual Pete “Maverick” Mitchell fighter pilot helmet from Top Gun in a glass case right next to me, I was fired up. After the sizzle reel ended, a side door opened and we’re ushered into the next room that revealed Paramount’s opening credit scene along the front wall. Behind us, a row of Academy Awards encased within the back wall. One of the attendants brings out an actual Oscar, and for the first time in my entire existence, I have the gold statue in hand. The Oscar was awarded to Paramount Pictures for their Special Effects in the 2005 Sci-Fi film, War Of The Worlds, and yes, it weighs heavier than you think.

“Talk To Me Goose”

Cruising in a golf cart around the studio lot, it was hard not to think about all the history that occurred there. The iconic Paramount Pictures water tower loomed everywhere we went. “Tank B”, which is a large open space that gets filled with upwards of 950,000 gallons of water to shoot large scale water scenes, was disguised as a giant parking lot. Lucy Park, which was built for actress Lucille Ball’s children so they could play while she worked, is still tucked away between Stages 24 and 25. That very park inspired the construction of a daycare center right next door for Paramount employees and still runs till this day. On a curb not too far away, were a pair of handprints left behind and signed Ted Danson and Woody Harrelson (naked). As the legend goes, Danson and Harrelson lost a bet on the last day of filming Cheers, and had to run around the lot in the nude. They stumbled upon some wet cement, and the rest is history.

The Iconic Paramount Water Tower

My favorite part of the tour were the props. There was no shortage of iconic items used in movies that were just randomly presented in a room that looked like your average office. Forrest Gump’s Sneakers, Maximus Decimus Meridius’ helmet from Gladiator, and the suit worn by Terry Daniels played by Leonardo DiCaprio in Shutter Island, all sat together in one room. Of course some watch spotting happened within the Archives as well. Ethan Hunt’s G-Shock from Mission Impossible II sat inside a glass case along with his famous tech glasses, surveillance equipment, and other miscellaneous gadgets. And in a warehouse not too far away, the backwards-running clock from the Curious Case of Benjamin Button was propped against the wall right in between two movie cars that at this moment, I can’t recall where they’re from.

Ethan Hunt’s Casio G-Shock From Mission Impossible II

The Behind The Camera Awards

The Behind The Camera Awards had everything you would expect a Hollywood award show to have: celebrities, cameras and a red black carpet. Presenters and honorees made their way down the black carpet, graciously posing for photos and answering any questions from the attending media. Award honorees that I caught a glimpse of included costume designer Marci Rodgers for her work in Till and production designer Ethan Thomas for his work in The Menu‘. A few recognizable faces that made their way through the black carpet included the likes of Paul Adelstein who was wearing his vintage Hamilton PSR and Jay Ellis aka “Payback”, as well as Monica Barbaro aka “Phoenix” who both played fighter pilots in the recent action-packed film, Top Gun Maverick. I tried to snap a few photos without coming off as the paparazzi. I think I did okay.

Monica Barbaro, Call Sign, Phoenix & BTCA Winner Al Nelson

My seat for the night was situated front and center. Not a bad view of the stars and award winners if you ask me. On the wrist, despite my best attempt to snag a Hamilton Ventura, was a stainless steel, white dial Hamilton Intra-Matic that the good folks at Hamilton let me hold onto for a couple of days. The host for the ceremony was actress and comedian Fortune Feimster. Thanks to her, the event went quite smoothly. From her continued request to get a neighboring table some mashed potatoes to an attempt to steal a Hamilton watch backstage, she garnered  laughs every time she made an appearance.

Hamilton CEO Vivian Stauffer & BTCA Host Fortune Feimster

Now I normally don’t get star struck, but it was hard not to be in awe of some of the talented people that were present that night. Jordan Peele was definitely one of them. Seeing his evolution as a writer and comedian on Key & Peele to a director for hits like Get Out, Us and Nope is quite surprising, but more so admirable. Peele presented the Visual Effects award to Guillaume Rocheron for his work in Nope, which I must admit, I saw for the first time on the plane ride to LA, and now I’m thinking that I’m going to have to give it a rewatch to appreciate the visual effects. Viola Davis was also in attendance, but not just as a presenter, but also as an award winner for her production work on Woman King, along with her co-producers Cathy Schulman and her husband Julius Tennon. Speaking of multiple awards, Top Gun Maverick snagged two BTCAs for Editing and Sound Design. Each scene that played from the movie prior to the honoree accepting the award got me fired up in my seat. I have thoroughly enjoyed watching the new Top Gun a few times, and I may or may not have watched it again on the plane ride home. What made the moment even cooler was that each award was presented by an actor that played a pilot in the movie. And when Kathryn Hahn came on stage to present the Visionary Award, she did not disappoint. I thought she was hilarious in movies, but she’s even funnier in real life.

The real party began after the award show ended. Situated right above the Avalon venue was a bar and lounge called Bardot. It was there where those who were in the audience got to mix it up with the actors, actresses and award winners. A mix of Hip Hop, R&B, Funk and Pop set the vibe for the night as everyone carried the energy from the award show into the after party. The best part was that there was always someone from Hollywood right next to me to chat with. Fortune Feimster and I chatted about her new upcoming Netflix special Good Fortune, and shared some laughs about the Hamilton she was trying to steal backstage. I also got to chat with Monica Barbaro about her role as Phoenix in Top Gun Maverick, and what it really took to fly in an F-18. It was a very memorable night in Hollywood indeed.

The Black & Gold Collection

Vivian Stauffer Revealing The Black & Gold Collection

The weekend of festivities set the stage for Hamilton’s new Black & Gold collection. The new range comprises five popular models in the Jazzmaster Automatic 36mm, Jazzmaster Auto Chrono 42mm, the Pan Europ, Ventura Chrono Quartz and the Ventura S that all get a PVD case and gold dial accents. The color scheme of the collection is appropriate given the location of the release and Behind The Camera Awards taking place the night before.

The Black & Gold Ventura Chronograph Quartz

Although I did miss out on wearing a Ventura during the award show, I sure did have many chances to have one on the wrist during the Black & Gold collection reveal. Both Venturas maintain the triangular case, with the Ventura Chrono Quartz flashing more gold than its smaller counterpart with its Aurelian subdials. Despite the significant difference in sizes, both Venturas wear extremely well and are extremely cool on the wrist.

The Ventura S

The Jazzmaster Auto Chrono 42mm has a lot going on between the dial, case and the strap it comes on. The subdials position at six, nine and twelve, and sport overlapping gold outer rings and subtle black sunburst dials. The date window lines up at four o’clock and the Hamilton wordmark calls three o’clock home. I’m used to seeing steel watches on a black or brown bund strap, so having a PVD case with gold accents on a bund takes some getting used to.

The Jazzmaster Automatic Chronograph

The more conservative takes within the collection, and where I find myself leaning towards are the Pan Europ and the Jazzmaster Automatic 36mm. The Pan Europ has a broad gold ring bordering the outskirts of the dial which visually makes the watch wear smaller than its 42mm case size. If the black rally leather strap with gold rivets doesn’t do it for you, the Pan Europ also comes with a striped NATO with gold plated hardware. The sleekest of the bunch is the Jazzmaster Automatic 36mm. It’s a straight forward, time only watch with just the right amount of gold accents. The case sizing is ideal, and comes on a leather NATO style strap with PVD hardware.

The Black & Gold Pan Europ

The Black & Gold collection is a notable follow up to the Janie Bryant collection that was released last year. It seems that Hamilton is set to continue the tradition of using their watches in Hollywood films and to honor those behind the scenes that make the movie magic happen. I know one thing for sure, I won’t be complaining if I have to return next year for a third time in a row. Can’t beat the November weather in La La Land.

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Thomas is a budding writer and an avid photographer by way of San Diego, California. From his local surf break to mountain peaks and occasionally traveling to destinations off the beaten path, he is always searching for his next adventure, with a watch on wrist, and a camera in hand. Thomas is a watch enthusiast through and through; having a strong passion for their breadth of design, historical connection, and the stories that lie within each timepiece.