I never understood mechanical watches until I saw the Apple Watch. Here’s my trip from the Apple Watch to my first mechanical watch and what I’m doing here at WWR. (If you’re only here for the Hamilton click here.)
I am an Apple guy. I have used Macs exclusively for more than fifteen years. I had an original iPhone, and have had an iPhone ever since. I still use my original iPad. I may or may not have an Apple sticker on my bike. And my skis. I’m a fan.
Looking at the Apple Watch when it debuted in 2015, I wanted to like it. But it’s not intuitively awesome in the way the original iPhone was. Or even incrementally better in the way the iPad was. The Watch just seemed unnecessary and overly complicated. It did, however, make me want to buy a watch, just not the Apple Watch.
I never understood the allure of mechanical watches. They’re so expensive, antiquated, and unnecessary. But they tick. They have a heartbeat. They have weight. My life is spent in front of a computer screen—handheld or desktop—and the idea of staring at another one on my wrist was overwhelming. The beauty of a handcrafted machine on my wrist seemed the perfect counterbalance. The Apple Watch caused me to rebel, to flee from modernity, and I ended up here.
I was never a watch guy. I had a series of crappy to moderate quartz watches over the years, and when the last one died I just bought a Timex Ironman. When I lost that one jumping off a cliff, I got another one. The Timex was useful because I like a watch with the day and date. But now I wanted a ticking technological tonic to fill that role.
The Hamilton Jazzmaster Day Date does the job its name suggests, but it does it better than most. The venerable ETA 2834-2 keeps track of things underneath, and the info is displayed on the dial in perfect balance. The day streaks across the dial at 12, filling the space between 11 and 1 and taking half a baton with it. Other watches do that trick, but many lose the plot with the date, dropped at 3:00 for no sensible stylistic reason. Here’s where the Hammy breaks from the likes of the Rolex Day-Date and its pretenders: the day of the month is at 6:00, perfectly balancing out the day of the week at the top of the dial.
The dial has a subtle texture that changes with the light from smooth to rough. The indices and hands also play chameleon, glinting from yellow gold to subdue brass depending on the mood. Pictures hide its brilliance.
The case is 40 mm of modern-proportioned ruggedness, with brushed and polished stainless steel playing together. It’s nearly 50 mm lug-to-lug, large for my 7” wrist, but only just.
The strap is the only real sore spot. It comes from Berne with a brown faux-alligator strap too thin to match the shape of the downturned lugs and with a pin buckle that is, well, a pin buckle. I replaced it with a padded strap and an Omega-style deployant. The strap is beautifully made, but a touch stiff and the clasp is oddly wide and even more oddly built (after catching the watch a few times and finding the clasp buttons were held on by tension alone I successfully repaired it by gluing the buttons on). But the fit to the case is perfect and it looks like it was meant for the watch.
My Jazzmaster was a reaction to screens, but it is not a rejection of them. It’s a statement about their limits. I’m a lawyer by day and the vast majority of my time is spent researching and writing on a computer. I could work without one, but I never would. And you can’t be a genuine Luddite blogger. Yet, when I saw the Apple Watch I realized, as much as I love the easy way screens serve information, I do not want to stare at another one. I had found the point I never thought I would, where electronics become overpowering and a radically different solution makes more sense. As we explore watches together here at WWR, I hope to discover why that is, one watch at a time. hamiltonwatch.com
Hamilton Jazzmaster Day/Date (H32505511)