Since its debut in 1957, the Hamilton Ventura has been a head-turner primarily because of its unconventional shape and, technically, because it was the first electric watch on the market. However, the wrist that catapulted the watch to fame belonged to Elvis Presley, who wore the watch in the 1961 film Blue Hawaii. To celebrate the King’s 80th birthday in 2015, Hamilton introduced the Elvis80 Automatic, the same model that now hosts a bold skeletonised dragon on the dial to celebrate the Chinese Year of the Dragon. Available in two versions, the Hamilton Ventura Elvis Skeleton Dragon exploits the unusual shape of the watch to great effect.
Richard Arbib, an American designer acclaimed for his work at General Motors, captured the ‘atomic age’ mood of the 1950s with his powerful triangular case design for the Ventura. Popularised by the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll and then again in the late 1990s with the Men in Black trilogy, the dial of the Ventura celebrates the upcoming Year of the Dragon with a dragon’s head carved into the dial.
Sharing the same specifications as the Ventura Elvis80 Skeleton, the stylised shield-shaped case measures 42.5mm x 44.6mm and has a thickness of 12.3mm. Available in stainless steel with a rose gold-coloured PVD coating or a sleek black PVD coating, the inclined geometry of the case with a thicker underlying triangular wedge on the left side is echoed by the sapphire crystal that drops dramatically on the right side to meet the crown. The lower triangular wedge is accented with brushed finishings contrasting with the brightly polished upper surfaces of the case.
Positioned at a 90-degree angle, the dragon’s head is created using cutaways on the black matte dial. Its nostrils and mouth are depicted at 9 o’clock, and the menacing scales protecting its head flare out in the wider section of the dial. For dramatic effect, the dragon’s eyes are depicted in flaming red on the black PVD model and piercing green on the gold PVD-coated model and positioned slightly to the left of the central hour and minute hands.
All the cut-out areas of the rose gold-coloured PVD model are accentuated with golden frames, matching the colour of the three central hands. There are no indices, but the hour and minute hands are treated with white Super-LumiNova. The black PVD version also features frames on the cut-out areas, which are black and slightly raised. The hour and minute hands are luminous, and the central seconds hand is bright red to match the dragon’s fiery eyes.
Partially visible through the cutaways on the dial and the delta-shaped sapphire window on the caseback is the automatic Hamilton calibre H-10 (Swatch Group’s Powermatic 80). An evolution of the ETA2824, the movement has an increased power reserve of 80 hours, a reduced frequency of 3Hz and an anti-magnetic Nivachron hairspring. While the finishings are obviously industrial, the partially openworked rotor features the brand’s logo, and the plates have circular graining.
Another fun detail is the textured rubber strap accompanying the watch, which is embossed with overlapping dragon scales that really look the part.
The Hamilton Ventura Elvis80 Skeleton Dragon models both retail for CHF 1,895 or EUR 2,175. There’s no indication of it being a limited edition, but its production will surely be limited in time. For more details, please visit hamiltonwatch.com.