The trend of watch brands mining their archives for watches to reissues might feel overdone at times but there are occasions when it feels thoroughly appropriate.In the case of the Chrono-Matic 50 by Hamilton that was launched late last year in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the automatic chronograph, it is a welcome move. And it’s not just for the bold, brash aesthetics that have been reborn, but the historical importance of the Chrono-Matic Count-Down GMT (link), the watch upon which today’s Chrono-Matic 50 was inspired.
Hamilton was part of the small group of brands that was in the race that culminated in 1969 for the release of the world’s first automatic chronograph, along with Heuer, Breitling, and Buren. Their entry was the Calibre 11, a movement that competed with the El Primero from Zenith and the Seiko calibre 6139 that were all released in the same year.
That Hamilton was a part of this race is a fact that doesn’t come to mind as readily as the other brands, and it’s useful to be reminded every now and again how much of an innovator they were in the late 1960’s
The original Chrono-Matic Count-Down GMT carried Calibre 14, a variant of the groundbreaking automatic chronograph Calibre 11 and was launched in 1972 which is also the reason for the the limitation number of the new watch to 1972 pieces.The aesthetics of the new and the old watches has largely been preserved. Without having both to compare directly in hand, from pictures both look as near identical as can be. The large pebble shaped case with red coloured chronograph pushers, the fonts on the dial for the Hamilton logo and the “chronograph count-down” text, and even the bi-compax chronograph layout with similarly designed subdials.The one obvious difference however stems from the fact that the new Chrono-Matic 50 does not have a GMT function unlike the older watch. Instead of the city and 24 hour rings that make up the outer tracks of the dial of the old watch, the new one replaces these with the tachymeter scale, and a count-down minute ring that is adjusted via the rotating crown at 8 o’clock. Also, the black pusher at 11 o’clock is for the quick change date, which in the older watch is most likely related to the GMT function.On the wrist, the watch is large and bold, with the red accents, imposing case size, that when coupled with the 1970’s styling of the case on a racing style strap makes for a memorable presence.