When I think of Hamilton and movies, I always picture Will Smith wearing a Hamilton Ventura in Men in Black. The company’s affiliation with the film industry goes much farther back, however, to the Golden Age of Hollywood. The 1932 classic, Shanghai Express, was Hamilton’s first brush with fame as it shared the screen with movie stars of the day (Marlene Dietrich and Clive Brook). Hamilton watches have since appeared in over 500 feature films, including on the wrist of Elvis Presley in Blue Hawaii and in 2001: A Space Odyssey. In 2006, the brand created the Hamilton Behind the Camera Awards, honouring the off-screen talents that make movies possible (screenwriters, set designers, prop masters, costume designers, etc.). And to celebrate its tenth awards show and 86 years in films, Hamilton launched the movie-themed Jazzmaster Regulator Cinema.
The Hamilton Jazzmaster Regulator Cinema immediately sets the tone with rotating film reels and a film strip printed on the exhibition caseback. The watch was given to presenters and honorees at the 10th Hamilton Behind the Camera Awards on November 4, 2018, and it’s also available for film buffs and Hamilton enthusiasts to purchase. It’s not too often that we see such a themed, mechanical watch from a major manufacturer (The Raymond Weil AC/DC Limited Edition was a fun one) and this special edition of the Jazzmaster Regulator Auto line is full of character.
Watches can play an important role in movies, almost becoming characters themselves. Who doesn’t know the Dick Tracy watch that allowed the iconic comic book detective to talk through his wrist via a two-way radio? This was decades before smartwatches and iPhones for our younger readers. Academy Award-winner Warren Beatty brought this to life in the 1990 Dick Tracy film. The Rolex Submariner is another classic example as it’s been a favourite of James Bond in the original Dr No film in 1962. Roger Moore’s first Bond movie was Live and Let Die in 1973, which again saw the British agent wearing a Submariner, but also a Pulsar LED digital watch from Hamilton (at the time, it was cutting-edge tech). CIA Agent Felix Leiter, a long-time friend and associate of James Bond, wore a Hamilton Khaki X-Wind Automatic in the 2008 Bond film, Quantum of Solace.
Of course, Hamilton isn’t limited to 007 and has been requested by producers and directors for some of the most well-known films in history. Stanley Kubrick ordered custom-built Hamilton watches for his legendary 1968 film, 2001: A Space Odyssey. Many characters throughout the sci-fi movie are seen wearing futuristic Hamilton prototypes – the technology Kubrick wanted for the pieces was too complex and expensive for consumer watches at the time (although a limited production was released by the company 40 years later). With more recent films such as the Men in Black trilogy, Independence Day, Interstellar, Ocean’s Eleven and The Dark Knight Rises, some of the biggest stars have worn Hamilton watches on the big screen. And with over 500 movies and counting, Hamilton is a true veteran of the film industry. The most recent example is, of course, Interstellar, with the launch of the “Murph” watch.
Although the Academy Awards and Golden Globes include the unseen talent behind movies, Hamilton created the Behind the Camera Awards to solely honour the heroes that form the backbone of movie productions. It’s a red-carpet event in Los Angeles and features A-list presenters and some of the biggest names in the industry. The Jazzmaster Regulator Cinema marked the tenth awards show and perfectly captures the spirit of the silver screen. Let’s take a closer look at this unique symbol of Hollywood and special edition to Hamilton’s Jazzmaster line.
CASE AND DESIGN
The 316L stainless steel case of the Jazzmaster Regulator Cinema is a sizeable 42mm in diameter and 13.1mm in height, but it feels more like a 40mm piece and doesn’t overwhelm my smaller wrist. The majority of the case is polished with the exception of the lugs, which have a brushed, satin finish on top. I like the subtle contrast and reflects nice attention to detail. A polished bezel surrounds the domed sapphire crystal (with anti-reflective coating) and sits just above a continuous chamfer spanning both the case and lugs. The polished steel caseback is secured with six screws and holds a sapphire exhibition window.
A black strip of 35mm film is printed on the back of the glass, reinforcing the watch’s movie theme. Hamilton’s H-12 automatic movement is on full display, although partially obscured by the film image. I have mixed feelings about custom images on exhibition casebacks, which are somewhat common and seen on watches like the MeisterSinger City Edition 2018 series and 2018 Frederique Constant Automatic Runabout Limited Edition. Sometimes they add value to the overall vibe of the watch (in the case of the Hamilton), but more often than not I find them distracting. It does work well on a piece like this themed Jazzmaster. The crown has an “H” stamped on the end and doesn’t screw down, so the case is water-resistant to only 50 meters. That’s more than adequate for rain and splashes, but I’d choose a different piece for prolonged swimming.
DIAL AND HANDS
The dial is what makes this watch special and it’s a cosmetically-modified version of a Hamilton Jazzmaster Regulator Auto. Two rotating film reels replace the traditional hour and seconds hands in a regulator setup, meaning that all three hands are in separate registers. We’ve looked at several regulator pieces lately, such as the Chronoswiss Flying Regulator Open Gear 35thAnniversary and Garrick Regulator, and the separated hand arrangements are based on regulator master clocks used by older watchmakers to set their new timepieces. The minute hand was usually centralized and prominent, while the others were pushed out of the way for occasional reference.
The multi-level dial starts with a brownish gold finish that wraps around the hour and seconds reels, with a narrow minute track spanning the outermost perimeter. Underneath lies a textured black finish that resembles the black gripping surface of vintage film cameras (it also reminds me of grip tape on a skateboard). HAMILTON and AUTOMATIC are printed at the top right within an applied silver film strip.
The matte silver hour reel sits at 10 o’clock and is considerably larger than the seconds reel. It slowly rotates within a larger reel-themed sub-dial that’s marked with glossy Arabic numerals every two hours. A red triangle at the end of the rotating portion acts as the hour hand. Below and to the right is the matching silver seconds film reel, positioned between 4 and 5 o’clock. This one provides continuous action as it spins around Arabic numerals printed underneath the reel, seen through the spaces of its spokes. The numbers are printed every ten seconds and again marked via a red triangle on the reel. Inside both sub-dials is a black spiral pattern that resembles film rolled on the reels. It’s easy to miss, but again reflects nice attention to detail. The silver minute hand is centralized and swings above the reels, and this particular setup provides a lot of depth. The minute hand expands to the outer edge of the dial and completes the regulator configuration. The combination of a conventional hand and miniature film reels is very cool, and the film industry couldn’t be represented better by a timepiece.
Powering the Jazzmaster Regulator Cinema is a Hamilton H-12 automatic calibre, based on an ETA 2825-2. It has 25 jewels, beats at 28,800vph (4Hz) with a 40-hour power reserve. Functions include central minutes, sub-dial hours at 10 o’clock and sub-dial seconds between 4 and 5 o’clock (with a regulator module). The Hamilton H-12 also has a date complication, although it isn’t utilized on the Jazzmaster Regulator line. HAMILTON has been engraved on the rotor, but the movement is otherwise undecorated. It’s still cleanly executed, although the printed film strip on the rear sapphire obscures a portion of the view.
The 22mm black leather strap has an alligator print and stainless steel deployment clasp. It’s comfortable enough, but I’m not the biggest fan of deployment clasps, preferring standard pin buckles. This one fits well, but the clasp rests a bit off-centre on the bottom of my wrist, which gets annoying over time. HAMILTON is engraved at the end of the buckle and I really like the look, but as a self-proclaimed strap snob, I’d probably swap this one with a similar black leather strap with a pin buckle. I guess you can blame my smaller wrists for this one.
I have a cousin, Marc Moss, who’s a credited screenwriter with movies like Along Came a Spider and Alex Cross under his belt. The Hamilton Jazzmaster Regulator Cinema specifically honours his work and all of the talented, unseen heroes that make a movie possible. After all, without a script, actors have nothing to say. Without a costume designer, they have nothing to wear. This speaks to me, on a personal level.
The watch itself is a very cool take on the regulator setup, swapping hands for spinning movie reels in separate registers. But understanding the history behind it – Hamilton’s more than 80 years in movies and its presentation to attendees at the 10th Hamilton Behind the Camera Awards – makes it feel like an award itself. Living in Los Angeles, I’m also surrounded by the film industry and wearing the Jazzmaster Regulator Cinema reminds me of the remarkable entertainment and cultural contributions of Hollywood. Hamilton’s sophisticated and playful nod to the silver screen has been a joy to wear.
The Hamilton Jazzmaster Regulator Cinema retails for CHF 1,195 or USD 1,275, which is the same price as its standard Jazzmaster Regulator Auto series. As a special edition, it only comes in one colour and strap configuration, but anything different would change that classical vibe. You can purchase one online at Hamilton’s website (here for US customers) and at participating retailers worldwide. Hamilton offers a two-year warranty, 30-day return window and free shipping in the continental United States.