Hamilton has a very specific price range. This comes from being part of the crowded Swatch Group. Hamilton watches must fit in a price category just bellow Longines, but above Tissot. This has had the positive effect of the brand being positioned very strongly at the entry price level for luxury timepieces. Last year the company released the Slim, which demonstrates the reason why Hamilton is such a strong player in the “democratic luxury” sector today. It is well designed, contemporary, runs on the highly reputable 2892 calibre manufactured by ETA in Switzerland, and is tagged with a starting retail price under $1,000.
Hamilton added two variations to the Slim collection this year and I got to play and film one at Hamilton headquarters in Biel/Bienne. The models in the Slim collection are perfect examples of how pictures never do watches justice. Images make the Slim watches seem plain and flat when in reality the 43mm width coupled with the low profile and classic design make for a striking piece that is very enjoyable to wear.
The conception of the Slim models caused some problems for Hamilton designers. The difficulty occurs in the source of the automatic movement. Hamilton uses ETA movements and these all offer fixed heights. Even more thickness is added to the movement when the subsidiary Small Second function is exploited. In order to compensate for the extra thickness, the Petite Seconde models don’t offer a see-through back. Instead a stainless steel back is secured with screws and engraved with Hamilton’s vintage logo. Regardless, the Petite Seconde is thicker than the original models, but only by a few, unnoticeable tenths of a millimeter. As more and more of the high end brands are reviving the classic style of elegant, slim watches, Hamilton boasts that they beat Geneva to the punch by introducing the JazzMaster Slims before many of the old manufactures.
An important factor to the width of a watch is what movement works inside it. While ETA does not yet make any movements specifically to be thin, Hamilton fitted the slim models with the high grade ETA calibre endowed with the lowest profile. The 2892 also happens to be the choice mechanism for the more luxurious and expensive non-manufacture watches, which is a happy coincidence for fans of the slim watches. The 2892 calibre is only 3.6mm high, while the other commonly used ETA Èbauche, the 2824, is a whole millimeter taller.
On the wrist, the Jazzmaster Slim not only looks great, but is very comfortable. As can be expected it fits nicely under your shirt cuff. The dial and leather strap, imprinted with alligator-like grain, are very classic and simple. A so-called Milanese strap made of a metal mesh material is also classic and reminiscent of an era when gold pieces had this type of strap integrated directly into the watch case. When all these vintage looking aspects come together, however, the result is young and fresh thanks largely to the considerable size of the case.
Hamilton’s JazzMaster Slim 43 is a revival of the elegant, thin watches of the past. That may seem like the whole idea when looking at pictures of these models, but when examining them up close and tyring them on the 43mm size, high grade materials, and overall modern feel become evident. The fact that, as with most Hamilton watches, the buyer is getting exceptional value makes these understated watches hard to overlook.