The ‘H’, if you were wondering, stands for ‘hand-winding’. But, to look at Hamilton’s latest — the sleek, striking Intra-Matic Chronograph H — you’d be forgiven for thinking it stood for ‘handsome’. Or ‘heroic’. Or ‘heritage’, come to think of it. As it happens, the American-born brand’s new vintage-tinged timepiece is all of the above — and a whole lot more.
Just look at it. It’s a rugged action hero of a watch. Chiselled, dependable and with leading-man good looks, the Intra-Matic Chronograph H has a punchy practicality and lashings of retro charm. And for good reason; Hamilton has been keeping time for the film industry for decades — and the Intra-Matic is the latest in a long line of timepieces to tick with the cinematic spirit of golden age actors.
It’s also partly inspired by Hamilton’s historic Chronograph A, from 1968. But, while the Chronograph H is slightly larger (that’s a 40mm case) and hardier than timepieces past, the mid-century cool remains. First impressions, even before we discuss the dial or mention the movement, are very, venerably good. And they only get better.
The first Intra-Matics from Hamilton were simple, elegant examples of mid-century watchmaking. Versatile, reliable and sorely missed, the model was brought back in 2017 with the Hamilton Intra-Matic 68. The watch was welcomed back with open arms and outstretched wrists, and Hamilton has been updating and adding to the line ever since.
But the new Chronograph H is the pinnacle of this timely revival; a much-anticipated manual wind option, and one of the most authentic vintage chronographs we’ve ever seen in modern watchmaking.
Featuring those same dashing, movie star looks — and powered by the specially-developed Hamilton Calibre H-51 hand-wound chronograph movement — this is a sports watch built for adventure. It takes a classic design and updates it for the modern man, balancing purity and complexity within a sturdy stainless steel case.
Take the reverse-panda black dial, for example. With contrasting outer tachymeter track and angular applied indices, there’s a no-nonsense practicality at play here — a robust, reliable quality you don’t usually see with such polished watches. Perhaps it’s that the automatic Intra-Matic’s 6 o’clock date window has been removed — streamlining the dial design. Perhaps it’s those pointed batons; a strong pair of hands for a solid, strapping watch.
Or perhaps it’s the subtle antiquing; gentle vintage hints affording the Chronograph H a worldly feel. Yet even this ‘fauxtina’ is toned-down and low key. Look closely at the faceted indices and those baton hands, and you’ll see the lume applied is an almost-gold shade of ‘Old Radium’. It’s a nice nod to the heritage of the piece, without relying too heavily on the contemporary trend for retro styling.
Even the white dial, a classic panda design upon which the antiquing is slightly more obvious, is still restrained and refined enough to speak on its own, 21st-century terms.
And both the clear-cut layout and clean legibility speak to Hamilton’s desire for practicality. It’s a thread that runs through each and every one of the American-born watchmaker’s releases — a wish that these watches should be worn. Perhaps that’s why we so often see them on the big screen — soaring into space, battling across war zones and helping heroes save the world.
The Chronograph H is a watch of a similarly capable calibre. It is 14.35mm thick. It is water resistant to 100 metres. It has a vintage-style solid caseback and oversized piston pushers to bulk up an already burly profile. It has been crafted with bash-about exploits and expeditions in mind — both timelessly traditional and bang up-to-date.
Even the straps are tooled-up; prepared for anything. We’ve got a soft spot for the supple, textured black leather buckle-up — but the Milanese mesh adds a hint of class to the Chronograph H. It’s one of many little touches of luxury that soften and sophisticate this well-built, broad-shouldered watch.
And, with a hefty 60-hour power reserve, The Hamilton Intra-Matic Chronograph H is nothing if not well-built. With its Hollywood looks, action hero rough-and-readiness and that throwback vintage styling, that ‘H’ could just as easily stand for ‘hardy’ or ‘handy’. Or, as the celebrated watchmaker seems to epitomise these well-crafted, captivating qualities in every watch it makes, it could simply stand for ‘Hamilton’.