I’ve always found my creative solace in the outdoors. Habitually equipped with a digital camera of some sort and ready to go heavy on the shutter button, it’s the vast landscapes in remote locales, as well as the unexpected obstacles that come with the territory that helps me find my center. I’ve also found joy in piecing together the different types of gear that come with. It’s akin to solving a puzzle. Carefully choosing each piece of gear so that each serves a purpose; to be used efficiently and effectively. Of course, there are always physical and mental challenges involved, but the key is to adapt and find ways to overcome them, then safely return home with a story to tell.
After some much needed rest and time with the family, I recharge my creative batteries in a peculiar way. Sure, there’s the casual flipping through a magazine or settling into a tasty adventure book, but I’ll always have that craving for fresh air. Still, the focus is to move under my own power and there is still a camera involved. But the sky-high mountain faces are traded for skyscrapers. Nature’s soundtrack is replaced by the repetitive honking, construction, and any of the 600 languages spoken throughout the bustling streets. There’s no such thing as standing still. You’ve got to duck and move; head always on a swivel. The energy is palpable, and the best part of it all, creative inspiration is everywhere. It’s not just any jungle; it’s the concrete jungle. It’s New York City.
Tucked away on the west side of Lower Manhattan is the city’s worst-kept secret; Greenwich Village. The Village is a place teeming with inspiration to spark the creative neurons. It’s rich in artist lore and historical significance. Yes, it draws its fair share of tourist traffic. I mean who wouldn’t want to see the Friends building in the flesh? But I frequent The Village for very different reasons. I walk around to appreciate the occasional quiet streets peppered with brownstones of eclectic architectural styles not limited to Second Empire, Georgian Revival, and Federal Style. Some of the world’s iconic artists and musicians have called The Village home. John Lennon lived right over on Bank Street in a four-story building built in 1846. Jackson Pollock, known for his drip-style paintings, practiced his craft relentlessly in his Village studio, and would go on to pioneer abstract expressionism. Before he became the world-renowned guitarist that he was (and is), Jimi Hendrix played for change across the street from Café Wha on MacDougal St. (still there) and it was The Village where his luck would change.
I started my day at Bar Pisellino, an Italian bar and cafe situated on Grove St. It’s a current fixture in the area and a go-to spot for an espresso during the morning, a midday Tramezzini, or a negroni right before dinner. Being it was 8:35 AM on a Saturday morning, it was an obvious order choice.
“One espresso, please.”
Casually sipping and slowly feeling my body come to life, I take in the sights. Bar Pisellino’s decor transports you directly to Florence or Venice. Outside, a cool breeze flows through the city blocks. The sun was already making its way high above the brownstones. Spring is right around the corner.
One thing is for certain when you’re moving around the city, much like jazz, there’s always some form of improvisation involved. You’ll never get the same exact jazz tune twice, and when you’re getting from point A to point B in the city, more often than not, it won’t be the same route either. And with each new twist and turn, uncovers new alleyways and stores. A perspective of the city we’ve never seen before. Improvisation at its finest, congruent to the tune of Hamilton’s Jazzmaster Performer Auto Chrono, a perfect city companion.
Alongside the uniform of a navy crew neck, olive green chinos, a pair of loafers and Moscot sunnies, the Hamilton Jazzmaster Performer Auto Chrono seamlessly falls right in. Aesthetically, the classic three-register chronograph display paired with its contemporary steel accents, sunburst satin-like navy dial and its navy perforated leather strap naturally blends the worlds of sport and refinement. When I bounce around in the city, I prefer whatever is on my person to be agile, flexible, and comfortable. You never know what the city is going to present you. One casual stroll during the day could quickly turn into an evening hangout with friends over some cocktails. For me, it’s important to be presented in a chameleon-like way, and that includes the watch I’m wearing. It’s a testament to just how versatile a timepiece can be. All of those boxes are checked with the Jazzmaster Performer.
The Jazzmaster Collection takes a welcomed step in the direction of refinement, and away from the loveable and notable utilitarian models such as the Hamilton Khaki Field. But what the Jazzmaster Performer offers is a happy medium between the two. It maintains the elevated nature of the collection while offering a distinct take on a steady sport chronograph. In a way, it’s Hamilton playing their own jazz tune by taking a conventional design and applying a mix of their own creative inspirations and brand design language, and well, improvising. The case illustrates just that with its varying finishes, its undercut silhouette, and angular-shaped pushers that smoothly follow the case lines. The date adjustment function moving from the crown to a pinhole sized button nestled into the case wall adds yet another wrinkle. Again, if this is Hamilton playing jazz, then the Jazzmaster Performer Auto Chrono is a tune worth tapping your foot to.
Meandering through the different blocks and dead ends, it was difficult not to stop and shoot a photo. My camera of choice however, was a Canonet G-IIIQL17, a fixed focal length 35mm film camera. Shooting with a film camera relieves me of any pressure when I try to be creative with a camera. Of course, I am more intentional with the photos I take. You can’t spray and pray with a film camera after all. But a shot on film is never perfect. There will always be a portion that’s slightly out of focus or light bleeding through. And for me, that’s totally ok. With the aimless walking comes along undiscovered antique stores, vintage shops and vinyl stores. I’m a sucker for vinyl records and make it a point to walk into any one I come across. Village Revival Records was one of those stops and you’d be hard pressed to find a more varied collection of vinyl anywhere in the city. Like shooting with film, playing a record at home evokes the same analog-loving feeling. Once again, it’s intentional in a way where you have to select what side you want to play, without having the ability to conveniently skip around.
Analog in its own right, the Hamilton Jazzmaster Performer Auto Chrono brings that same spirit into modern time with their H-31 movement. Its main feature is the 60 hour weekend-proof power reserve but it’s the underlying improvements that include an entirely updated kinematic chain, improved mainspring power and a skeletonized mono-block rotor with Hamilton’s signature “H.” In addition to this, its balance spring is made of Nivachron, offering a very useful resistance to the magnetism surrounding my daily lifestyle. A mechanical movement would’ve kept some vintage charm, but that’s not what the Jazzmaster Performer is all about. It’s a modern chronograph for the modern wearer.
Once again, history reveals itself in The Village. This time as I walked by the stretch of storied jazz clubs in and around W 3rd St. Clubs whose stages were christened by the likes of John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis – true masters of jazz. Ghosts of jazz clubs past like the Gaslight Cafe are no more. Only the stories of Jimmy James lighting up the stage live on, before he would light up the world as Jimi Hendrix.
Back home, I can confidently say that the creative batteries are filled. The day will most likely end with an adventure book in hand, as I am always looking forward to my own next adventure, and my one year old on my lap. You could bet that I’ll have one of the newly purchased records playing in the background. As for the Jazzmaster Performer Auto Chrono, should I give it an encore out in the wild but perhaps for a slightly more formal affair? How would might it look paired with some cufflinks and a tailored suit? The gears are already turning.