Among the flurry of watch-world milestones commemorated in 2017 is the Jan. 3, 1957 launch of the Hamilton Ventura, the world’s first electrical battery-powered wristwatch — later made even more famous as the watch worn by Elvis Presley in his 1961 movie, Blue Hawaii. On the occasion of this iconic timepiece’s 60th anniversary, Hamilton is launching a trio of new models inspired by the original, including an ultra-modern, avant-garde skeleton version.
All three of the new watches feature the Ventura’s hallmark unconventional curved case design and feature on their dials, as a tribute to the 1957 original, the large electricity symbol that proudly touted the watch’s breakthrough technical innovation. Two of the models are available in two different case sizes and are outfitted with modern Swiss quartz movements; the third is available in one large case size and equipped with a mechanical, self-winding movement.
The Hamilton Ventura Classic is a vintage-look tribute piece available in two executions. One (pictured above) has a stainless steel case treated with a yellow-gold PVD coating and mounted on a brown teju-patterned leather strap. Its white dial has 2N gold hour and minute hands and a red-tipped seconds hand. The other Classic (below) evokes Elvis’s late-1950s rebellious days with its use of denim, a fabric that became popular in that era. The polished, stainless steel case frames a 3D-printed blue-jeans-pattern dial, with nickeled hands for the hours, minutes, and seconds, and attaches to a strap made of blue denim with a pin buckle. Both Classic models come in two sizes — 24 mm by 36.5 mm, and 32.3 by 50.3 mm — and contain quartz movements. The dials are protected by period-appropriate mineral crystals. Prices are $895 for the gold-PVD models and $845 for the denim-dial version.
Distinctively more contemporary — but still unmistakably a Ventura — is the Hamilton Ventura Skeleton, which deftly combines the model’s retro-futuristic look with an ultra-modern, skeletonized dial execution that calls to mind the look of a microphone that the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll may have used when recording his early hits. Inside the 42.5 mm x 44.6 mm polished steel case, and glimpsed through the dial’s geometrical crisscross pattern, is the Caliber H-10-S automatic movement, with an impressive 80-hour power reserve, developed for Hamilton by the Swatch Group and skeletonized specially for this model. The hour and minute hands are coated with Super-LumiNova and the central seconds hand is in bright red. The crystal is sapphire, with a nonreflective coating. The watch is available on either a black rubber strap with steel pin buckle (pictured) or a stainless steel bracelet with butterfly clasp. Available in the fall, it will be priced at $1,695 on a strap and $1,745 on a bracelet.
I saw the origunal Ventura at a show in Spain, many many years ago. Beautiful watch. It is incredible how a person so private as Elvis was, in fact, his only appearance in a ad was before he became ELVIS, can with the passing of time and so casually become a bellwether, a prime mover in the selling power of products as varied as watches, men’s hairn products, even in the car or pop art businesses. His name and image alone gives a tremendous amount of added value to things even after 40 years of not being with us precisley because, in life, he was so unassuming. To give just one example, In the last 10 years alone, three of Andy Warhols Elvis silkscreens have been sold at auctions or privately for a quarter of a billion dollars. No other series by Warhol can claim to even come close to these tallies. In 2012,the last BMW owned byPresley and found in California in an extremely dire state 50 years later, went though a two year process of restoration the cost of which has yet to be disclosed. The car is now the center piece of the BMW Zentrum Museum. That Elvis touch.