Three of our favourite Hamilton Ventura watches to celebrate Elvis’ birthdayJared Belson
The Hamilton Ventura was a truly revolutionary watch upon its release. While Richard Arbib’s extremely unique case shape turned heads, it wasn’t the Ventura’s true party piece. As the world’s first electric watch powered by a battery, it became an instant worldwide sensation. However, the Ventura’s true claim to fame comes as Elvis Presley’s companion in his 1961 film, Blue Hawaii. While originally a product placement planned between Hamilton and the film’s producers, Elvis took to the watch like a duck to water.
After swapping the leather strap for a bracelet (a move many of us watch enthusiasts would approve of), the Ventura became one of his frequent daily wearers. In fact, he was so in love with the watch that he was known to hand them out as gifts to friends and family. On Christmas Eve 1965 he purchased a second Ventura, this one a white-gold variant with a black dial.
That particular watch was with him through the end of his life, and now resides along with its original receipt in Hamilton’s museum collection. For this reason, the Ventura has become an icon of the post-war era in the United States. With January 8th being Elvis’ birthday, here’s a quick list of my favourites from the Ventura line-up in honour of the King.
Hamilton Ventura S ref. H24251330
This just-released iteration of the Hamilton Ventura is a melting pot of modern and vintage cues. While the general shape of the S retains elements of Arbib’s original design, the focal point is no longer the case. Instead, your eyes are drawn to two things: the oversized turbine-esque crown and the textured dial that gives the optical effect of being 3D. The crown (and extension across the case and dial) reminds me of the rear-end of the 1963 Chrysler Turbine car. In contrast to this jet-age marker, the dial is very much a modern touch. The texture is unlike anything else I’ve seen, with the illusion of textured triangles (themselves within a large triangle) combining to create a very cool visual impact. Offered in black or white with a flat matching coloured strap, this one is ready for daily wear.
Hamilton Ventura Quartz ref. H24411232
Styled much like the watch Elvis himself wore, this one stays true to the original design. While it uses a more modern quartz movement, this one has all the right markers: silver-tone integrated expansion bracelet, dots for the hour markers, dauphine hands, and signature coiled line across the middle of the dial. The asymmetrical case is larger than the original model at 32.3mm x 50.3mm, but don’t let those specs fool you – this one wears much more modestly. If you’re in the market for a touch of dressy old-school cool, it doesn’t get much better than this.
Hamilton Ventura Chrono ref. H24432751
With the Chrono, Hamilton took the Ventura in a totally different direction. While the brand offers it in PVD gold with a white dial, I’m partial to the standard stainless version. Available on both a black leather calf strap and a matching silver expansion bracelet, the panda dial meshes the feel of the original Ventura with the vibe of other 1960s-styled chronographs (including Hamilton’s own Intra-Matic). While I know some “purists” will wish for an automatic movement, the quartz movement is ultimately more true to the Ventura’s roots. Not only is it easy on the eyes, the added functionality of the chronograph and date is a great little bonus.