Back in 1961, Elvis Presley wore a Hamilton Ventura in the film Blue Hawaii, and it instantly became a desirable watch, and a noticeable icon in the wrist watch landscape. More recently, of course, it was the Men in Black films that showcased the Ventura, but it’s that Elvis association that got it all going. So, that’s why the latest version is named as the Hamilton Ventura Elvis80 Skeleton Auto – might as well keep that association strong.
As compared to the original that Elvis wore, the Hamilton Ventura Elvis80 Skeleton Auto doesn’t share a lot other than the basic profile. Well, that and the large pulse going across the middle of the dial. This is a design element from Elvis’ actual watch, and it is quite striking. So much so that, on a product call, I asked Hamilton why the bolt itself wasn’t luminous. They didn’t have an answer, but they did like the idea, so maybe we’ll see one in the future that has that electric signal actually lighting up at night.
While the original Hamilton Ventura was part of the “electric” line, the Hamilton Ventura Elvis80 Skeleton Auto is very much a modern automatic. Here, it’s housing a skeletonized version of the H-10 movement, which among the other things it offers, is an 80-hour power reserve. This is nothing to be sneezed at, and for those who find themselves swapping around between watches during a week, is a boon to not come back to a dead watch, and not having to use a watch winder.
When you have an odd case size, and particularly one that’s on the larger size, how it fits on the wrist is going to be a big question around how comfortable the watch will be. Your wrist may vary, but on my 7.25″ wrist, I found that the Hamilton Ventura Elvis80 Skeleton Auto fit quite well. This is largely due to the curved caseback that allows the case to settle down on your wrist, as well as the lugless design that allows the strap (a rubber one, in the case of our loaner) to drop right down and curve around your wrist.
Another question you might have about the Hamilton Ventura Elvis80 Skeleton Auto is how usable it actually is as a watch. Sometimes when you have an oddly-shaped case, indices end up in odd places. Here, they’ve made the hour hand as long as it can be, so it pretty clearly points to where it needs to be. The other potential problem spot is with the open-worked dial and skeletonized movement. In many, many cases, this puts a lot of visual noise in front of your eyes, and picking out the handset can become difficult. Here, because the hands are fairly wide at the pinion – and filled with crisp, white luminous paint, they’re pretty easy to pick out. Sure, I wouldn’t have minded if the bits of the movement we see on the dial side had a darker finish (for more contrast to the hands), but I think Hamilton did a solid job balancing legibility and showing off the movement.
Through the caseback of the Hamilton Ventura Elvis80 Skeleton Auto, you can see more of the H-10 movement while it’s at work. And, should you hold the case up to the light, you’ll be able to see right through, front to back. While it was interesting, where I found the most curious play of the light was along the curved edge of the front sapphire crystal, on the flat edge by the turbine exhaust crown (see that photo below). With all the straight edges, having that curve there is a nice changeup, and of course, it does all sorts of curious things with the light going through it (no worries, it’s not a neuralizer ray producer).
At the end of the day, the $1,795 Hamilton Ventura Elvis80 Skeleton Auto carries on the legacy of the watch made so popular over 60 years ago. It’s just as iconic and eye-catching as the original, and there is no mistaking it for any other watch, even from across the room. If you find yourself just wanting something a bit different, but with as storied a design legacy as many heritage designs from the other big brands, it’s hard to go wrong with the Ventura. It encapsulated that Jetsons-age retro-futurism back in the 60s, and it still keeps on vibing to that same rhythm today. hamiltonwatch.com
Tech Specs from Hamilton
|Caliber||H-10-S (80-hour power reserve)|
|Case size||42,5mm x 44,6mm|
|Case material||Stainless steel|
|Lug width||21,22mm lug width|
|Power reserve||80-hour power reserve|
|Water Resistance||5 bar (50 m) / 73 psi (164 ft)|
|Open Case Back||Yes|