Hamilton was founded in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 1892. Now headquartered in Switzerland, Hamilton is well-respected in the watchmaking industry for making reliable and stylish timepieces. Hamilton watches tend to be priced in the $750 – $2,000 range.
I own several Hamiltons and generally have had good experiences with their watches.
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I’m in love with the Auto Chrono. Of course it’s beautiful, but it’s the fine details Hamilton put into this version of the Jazzmaster, along with the new H21 automatic movement, that created something genuinely brilliant. I can’t think of a single watch that retails for under $2,000 that I’d recommend before the Hamilton Jazzmaster Auto Chrono.
Hamilton Jazzmaster Auto Chrono Technical Specifications
Date display, chronograph
Approximately 60 hours
Operating the Jazzmaster Auto Chrono
The H21 movement operates like the Valjoux 7750 that it is based off of. The time and date are manipulated via the crown. The chronograph is activated/stopped via the top button, and is reset with the bottom button.
Watch the instructional video here.
How To set the time:
- Pull crown to the furthest position (position 3). Turn the crown clockwise to set the time. Note that the date display will rollover at at midnight.
How To set the date:
- Pull the crown to the middle position (position 2) and turn clockwise to set the date.
Hamilton Jazzmaster Auto Chrono Aesthetics & Design
Just look at this watch. It’s beautiful. I tried to showcase it at its best, but I’m just an amateur photographer. However, I did get some macro shots that I really enjoy and I think show off how well made this Hamilton is.
Fact is, the rose gold and stainless steel, paired with a dark brown leather strap, is a fantastic combination.
Click the image on the right to see the full size 2106 x 1400px image. Equipment used: Nikon D3200, Tamron 90mm macro lens.
The polished case and bezel contrast with the textured dial. Inset are three grooved steel dials at 6, 9, and 12 o’clock. The seconds hand at the 9 o’clock position smoothly sweeps as time passes. The 6 and 12 o’clock dials are activated with the chronograph.
The rose gold hands and hour markers reflect light in just the right way. Gold can be tricky to pair with, but this rose gold is subtle enough that it pairs well with almost anything.
The engraved rotor takes up the majority of the exhibition caseback window, though what it doesn’t hide are the finely engraved and decorated components underneath. Hamilton has done a great job showcasing the movement and applying enough texture to let it really shine.
The crown and clasp are both engraved and well made. The deployment clasp in particular is both attractive and beneficial for preserving the integrity of the crocodile-grain leather strap.
This is simply a beautiful watch. I love wearing it.
Hamilton Jazzmaster Auto Chrono Build Quality
Hamilton has a well-deserved reputation for quality. In this case, the Auto Chrono feels well built. However, 7 months after purchase it required servicing due to the seconds hand that had stopped moving. December 2015 update: in the 18 months since servicing it has had no problems.
Crystal, Case, and Dial
Hamilton has fitted the auto chrono with a sapphire crystal (as you’d expect no less at this price point) and it looks great. It is slightly domed and looks good from almost all angles.
The workmanship on the dial is excellent, with everything being aligned as it should be and no imperfections visible under zoom. The case also follows similar quality standards, with the crown and buttons operating securely and without excessive play.
The entire piece feels well put together.
Strap and Clasp
The brown crocodile-grain leather looks fantastic, as does the deployment clasp it comes paired with. Both have held up quite well (update December 2015: strap still looks almost new) thanks to the deployment clasp, which once sized for your wrist more or less prevents further sizing stress on the strap.
The clasp, while very attractive, has a tendency to release when my wrist is sharply angled. What’s happening is the two release buttons are being pinched by my forearm and top of my hand. It never releases without being pressed- it’s just unfortunate that it’s so easy to unintentionally press the clasp’s buttons.
More About the Hamilton Jazzmaster Auto Chrono
The Hamilton Jazzmaster Auto Chrono is powered by the H21 movement, which itself is based off of the Valjoux 7750. The Valjoux 7750 is widely considered an excellent and reliable movement, and while the H21 is not necessarily the same movement, the fact that it is based off of the Valjoux 7750 suggests that it should be reliable.
Unfortunately, approximately 7 months after purchasing the Auto Chrono, it required servicing as the second hand stopped functioning. Hamilton performed the service for free, and when it was returned four weeks later it functioned normally. I have not experienced any problems with it since (as of December 2015, 1.5 years later).
Value for Money
You can easily find this watch for around $1,300 on Amazon. Inside is a Hamilton-exclusive ETA derived H21 movement that features date display, a chronograph, and 60 hours of power reserve. It’s a great movement and is right at home inside the Auto Chrono.
I’ve gone on enough about how beautiful I think the watch is. Aesthetics are subjective, I know, and I think this Hamilton does really well here. It simply looks fantastic.
While the movement did require servicing a few months after purchase, it has been nearly two years since then without issue. It keeps time to within a few seconds per day, the chronograph function works as intended and without fuss, and the movement itself charges with even the smallest movement (a real pain when trying to get photos, let me tell you).
You could spend the same $1,300 on a quartz Tag, Movado, etc., or you could buy a Swiss automatic with a brand new movement inside. I think the choice is obvious.
I strongly recommend the Hamilton Jazzmaster Auto Chrono. If you like how it looks, you’ll love how it feels on your wrist.