While automatic movements are more or less the norm today, the thinness and feel of a hand-wound chronograph still holds a special place in the hearts of many enthusiasts (this writer included). Hamilton has a long and proud history with hand-wound chronographs with standouts like the Chronograph A and Chronograph B of the late ‘60s, and the brand is staging a dramatic return to the concept in 2021. While sharing more than a passing resemblance to the current automatic Intra-Matic Chronograph line, these new manual wind versions offer a cleaner look and a brand new exclusive movement. With a sporting ‘60s style and just a hint of patina, the new Hamilton Intra-Matic Chronograph H series offers one of the most authentic vintage chronograph experiences from a modern watch in its price range.
The 40mm stainless steel case of the Hamilton Intra-Matic Chronograph H is true to its ‘60s sporting roots in form, with a narrow mirror-polished bezel accentuated by slim attached lugs with a sharp downturn. The slightly oversized piston pushers give the case profile a punch of retro character, further emphasized by the tall box sapphire crystal. The height may come as something of a surprise, however, as between the crystal and the sheer case sides the Intra-Matic Chronograph H measures in at a sizeable 14.35mm thick. With less than 0.3mm difference in thickness to its automatic stablemate, this hand-wound execution should wear nearly identical on the wrist. Water-resistance is a solid 100 meters.
Although the case of the Hamilton Intra-Matic Chronograph H is nearly identical to the current Intra-Matic, the dial designs make a handful of streamlined changes that offer a cleaner, more refined air. Available as both a panda or reverse panda dial layout, the Chronograph H strongly echoes the classic Chronograph B with its two snailed registers, pointed baton hands, and faceted applied indices. Hamilton does opt for fauxtina lume here, but the “Old Radium” shade is light enough not to feel forced while introducing a hint of color and age in initial images. Compared to the automatic version, both variants of the Chronograph H do away with the contrasting outer tachymeter track, instead matching the dial tone. In addition to a cleaner, more relaxed look, this helps the dial appear larger in initial images. The Chronograph H also deletes the automatic Intra-Matic’s 6 o’clock date window, leading to a more symmetrical and visually balanced dial layout.
While the new H-51 hand-wound chronograph movement inside the Hamilton Intra-Matic Chronograph H is not developed entirely in-house, the movement is modified exclusively for Hamilton from a 7753 base by Swatch Group partner ETA. This new hand-wound powerplant offers a hefty 60-hour power reserve, with a 28,800 bph beat rate. Although the Intra-Matic Chronograph H hides this new movement behind a vintage-style solid caseback, given the dramatic visuals of a hand-wound chronograph movement it’s likely that Hamilton will eventually put this on display in a sapphire display back model. With the removal of a winding rotor, however, Hamilton’s decision to keep the Intra-Matic moniker for this new design is one that may spark debate among enthusiasts.
In keeping with the late ‘60s sporting theme, Hamilton offers the Intra-Matic Chronograph H with a pair of suitably midcentury strap options. First up is a brightly polished Milanese mesh bracelet with a signed two button deployant clasp. For a more serious and subdued look, the Chronograph H can also be matched with a textured black leather strap.
With a new exclusive movement and a deftly facelifted dial, the Hamilton Intra-Matic Chronograph H line offers a handsome and versatile vintage style option for enthusiasts that value the visceral connection of winding a watch each day. The Hamilton Intra-Matic Chronograph H series is available now through authorized dealers at a starting MSRP of $2,045. For more details, please visit the brand’s website.