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Hamilton Jazzmaster Viewmatic Review

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Published on 09-04-2011 06:55 AM

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I’d been on the lookout for a dress watch for some time, and had more or less ‘resigned’ myself to saving for the (admittedly beautiful) Longines Conquest. A great brand, well made and looked very stylish, so why not…?

Cue the discovery of the Hamilton Jazzmaster Viewmatic, thanks to one of the members here at WTF (Paul55) - and his white dialled version – plenty of great photos got me looking seriously at this previously unknown (to me) watch, and when I saw there was a black dialled version, serious became almost obsessive as I tried to find out as much as I could about this model.

After much back and forth deliberation, I decided to take a (calculated) risk and bought one online (the watch was on sale, and there are no ADs here in NZ). The watch arrived, I posted an ‘incoming’ thread, then all went quiet, until SeanO gave me a gentle nudge, letting me know some sort of review/assessment was in order.

Duly notified, here’s my review of the watch after a short term of ownership…

First, some specs:
Hamilton Jazzmaster Viewmatic

Model H32445585 (H324450 stamped on caseback)

38mm Rose Gold PVD case

Sapphire crystal

Calfskin leather strap

Swiss ETA2824-2 automatic movement (quickset date, hacking, and can be manually wound)

Display back

Water Resistant – 50m / 165ft

This Jazzmaster model has a black dial, with rose gold applied markers. Around the outer edge of the dial are small white markers (with numbers every 5 min) that contrast nicely with the black and gold. A date window with a double white border sits at 3 o’clock, and having black numerals on a white background, is very legible. Finishing and complementing this theme are the white Hamilton and Viewmatic logos – laid out between the 10 and 2, and 20 and 40 positions respectively, they balance the dial perfectly. Whether it’s something as simple as a red-tipped seconds hand, or a theme of a single or multiple contrasting colours, I believe some contrast goes a long way, and makes the dial look more interesting and balanced. The Jazzmaster seems to pull off this trick very well, with a dial that is vibrant without being too ‘loud’ or busy. I have read several differing statements about the size of the watch, so a quick check with some digital calipers shows mine to be 38mm across the case (measured from 10 to 4), including the crown guard (but not the crown).

The rose gold case is beautifully finished, and appears free of any faults in the manufacturing or application processes (as you would expect from a new Hamilton watch). The rose gold has been applied using the PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) technique. For those not familiar with this term,

It is a variety of Vacuum deposition, and is one of several processes used to deposit thin films by the condensation of a vaporized form of the material onto various surfaces (Wikipedia). I have one other PVD watch (a Luminox Black Ops) which after a year of light bumps/knocks is showing no signs of scratching or damage to the PVD finish. Hopefully a good sign for the future of this Hamilton.

At this price point, the gold deposition is ‘just enough’ (at 10 microns) to look good, without breaking the bank over precious metal.

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The same gold is used on the (applied) dial numerals, markers and hands. The seconds hand is thin and straight, with a small arrowhead counterbalance. The hour and minute hands are tapered to a point, with lume inserts. Along with the lume dots at 12, 6 and 9, and lume on the markers, the dial is legible at night, but is no beacon, such as we have come to expect from many of the diver style watches out there. As this watch is really more of a dress watch than anything else, the lume is perfectly good, and there is certainly more of it than many other similar styled watches. The case width is possibly on the larger size for a dress watch, at 9.4mm, but not overly so, and it sits on the wrist comfortably without getting in the way of a shirtsleeve. Weight is a barely noticeable 60gm (to give a comparison, a Breitling SO on SS bracelet weighs in at 175gm).

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It’s hard to describe the actual colour/tint of the rose gold. My personal view is that it leans more towards a yellowish/copper colour than a red colour, but that suits me fine; it makes the watch a bit more ‘subtle’ on the wrist.

The case is polished, other than the top of the lugs with their brushed finish – probably a good idea as these areas are most susceptible to scratches picked up through normal wear and tear.

A long crown guard tapers from lug to lug, but is nicely cut away at the top and bottom of the crown to allow easy grip when winding, and changing the time and date. The crown itself is signed with the Hamilton ‘H’ and is neither oversized nor too small to grip. It is not a screw-down crown, hence the 50m water resistance rating which is normal for this type of watch. I would not recommend swimming with it...

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One of my favourite features, although never seen when wearing the watch, is the display caseback. Nothing beats seeing the mechanical heart of the watch and the multitude of parts all working in harmony to mark the passage of time.

And although I’d love to wax lyrical about the Jazzmaster’s movement (an ETA 2824-2), sadly I feel this is one area that Hamilton have let down the watch slightly, and yet is something that could easily be fixed. A few blued screws, and a bit of decoration of the exposed plates, would make a big difference to its appearance. The rotor has a rather workmanlike Hamilton branding, and leaves me with the impression of function over form, which (to me) misses the point of a dress watch a bit. A solid caseback with a nice engraving (think Omega’s observatory and stars, for example) might be more appropriate if the view of the movement couldn’t be made more interesting for the price. This is one of the only areas where it appears a feature has been built to a price, and the opportunity to make it just a bit more attractive has been lost.

But referring to my original statement, the display case is never seen when wearing the watch, and has absolutely no effect on precision or performance, so is really only a very minor niggle. As far as actual performance of the movement is concerned, out of the box, my Jazzmaster is running at about 7 seconds plus per day. I know the 2824-2 can be regulated to within COSC specs if that’s your desire.

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The Leather strap (calfskin, crocodile pattern) is actually better than I expected; it is supple, not stiff at all, and the white stitching on the dark band matches the white/black contrast on the dial perfectly. It has one fixed and one floating loop. I have found it a bit difficult to thread the strap through the fixed loop, it seems too close to the buckle, and involves a lot of extreme bending of the strap to thread it through. I find it easier just to pass the strap over the top of the fixed loop and thread it through the floating loop.

The buckle is stamped ‘Hamilton’, is of the same rose gold colour as the case, and has a brushed finish, which should help avoid some of the scratches and scrapes a polished buckle quickly accumulates – well done to Hamilton for this consideration. Interestingly, I see other examples of this watch come with a deployant clasp as standard. I’m not sure why this has changed, or if there is a slightly different spec for different markets? I think it deserves a deployant for a ‘classier’ look, and it is easy to add an aftermarket strap/deployant if you wish to give it a bit of a different look. Matching the rose gold might be the only problem – I’m not sure how common the hue is.

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Looking at the Jazzmaster as a complete package, I am amazed that Hamilton have managed to create a dress watch with this level of attention to detail and finish, for the price. A PVD gold case, sapphire crystal, applied markers, guilloche pattern dial, displayback, proven Swiss movement – the list goes on and on.

You could pay thousands more for a big name dress watch, but unless it includes significantly more precious metal, additional complications, or an in-house movement, I’m not sure what more you’ll be getting for the extra money. In my opinion, Hamilton has produced a dress watch in the Viewmatic that is hard to beat for style, value, and features.

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Scott D, chford, xo96 and 2 others like this.

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Hamilton Jazzmaster Viewmatic Review
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