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REVIEW: The Hamilton Jazzmaster Chronograph>>>>>

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Published on 02-03-2010 10:52 AM

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Review of the Hamilton Jazzmaster Chronograph
By: John B. Holbrook, II

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The Hamilton watch brand has a special place in my heart as one of the few watch companies (and one of the most well known) that started in the United States. The Hamilton Watch Company was founded in Lancaster, PA in 1892. Their first watch, produced by Hamilton co-founder H.J. Cain made its debut in 1893. Initial fame for Hamilton watches arrived when the railroad industry looked to Hamilton to help put an end to the frequent crashes of their locomotives. Hamilton again earned a place in U.S. history as Hamilton was named the official timepiece supplier to the Armed Forces by the U.S. Government. Some 20 years later in 1930, Hamilton captured a place in U.S. aviation history by being named official watch of TWA, Northwest, United, and Eastern airlines. Clearly Hamilton watches are incorporated as an important part of American history. Even though Hamilton was purchased and is currently owned by the Swiss Swatch Group, Hamilton still creates brand identity by aligning their watches with important symbols of American culture — like Jazz.

The Hamilton Jazzmaster Chronograph (reference number H32646555) is part of Hamilton’s American Classic line of watches. Upon first examining the time-piece, the aesthetic appeal of the watch is very strong. The shimmering champagne-colored dial complements the rose gold markers and hands. The mix of polished Arabic numerals and applied markers which encircle the dial provide both excellent legibility and symmetry. Additionally, the hour and minute hands have a luminescent coating applied for enhanced low-light visibility. A small second hand register is located at 6 o’clock, with a date display located between the 4 o’clock and 5 o’clock markers. The dial is protected by a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal. The 42mm stainless steel case has 10 microns of rose gold plating applied, with a mix of both polished and brushed finishes applied throughout. The gold plating gives the watch a very dressy, and warm appearance on the wrist. The chronograph pushers have a very pleasing, unique shape and I found them to be a joy to use. The case is rated for an impressive 100 meters of water resistance. Between the large, 22mm case lugs is a gorgeous leather strap with faux alligator grain, in rich medium brown featuring decorative tan stitching. The strap also features an impressive case-matching deployant — an impressive upgrade over the standard tang and buckle found on other timepieces at this price point.

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The Jazzmaster Chronograph is powered by the Valjoux 7753, which is a variant of the classic Valjoux 7750 movement. The Valjoux 7753 is essentially the same movement as the more well known 7750, except the 7753 has the chronograph registers located at three, six, and nine o’clock. The movement (produced by ETA, a sister company to Hamilton which is also owned by The Swatch Group) appears to have very little fine finishing applied, outside the Hamilton logo engraving on the rotor. Given the price point of this timepiece, I wouldn’t expect to find luxury level finishing applied. The 7753 is a 27- jewel, self-winding chronograph movement and is considered somewhat “low tech” as far as mechanical chronographs go, but legendary for its stable and robust performance. The Valjoux 7753 is an excellent choice in the appealing yet unpretentious Jazzmaster Chronograph. The Valjoux 7753 has a vibration speed of 28,800 BPH, making it a “high-beat” movement, which strongly contributes to its stable, accurate performance.

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I can find no aspect of the Jazzmaster Chronograph that does not impress me. It’s been quite some time since I’ve seen such a fine mechanical wristwatch which delivered such exceptional quality at such a modest price point — perhaps since I last reviewed an example from Hamilton. The suggested retail price for the Hamilton Jazzmaster Chronograph is $1,695. While some will not look kindly on the gold plating over the stainless steel case, I was extremely impressed with the workmanship, and you certainly can’t argue with the value. A genuine mechanical chronograph complication from one of the most recognizable watch marquees for well under $2,000.00 is almost unheard of. But it’s nice to know that there are still watch brands in the marketplace creating excellent examples of quality mechanical timepieces for the average consumer, and not just the “super rich.”

**Photos & Text Copyright 2010 WATCH TALK FORUMS INC.. No part of this report can be reproduced outside of WATCH TALK FORUMS without the expressed permission of John B. Holbrook, II.

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