January 28, 2023
It’s no easy feat to make a truly high-quality statement piece on the affordable side of the watch market. While there is no shortage of excellent, well-made, and stylish timepieces available for reasonable prices, creating a sense of mechanical spectacle on the wrist without cutting corners generally takes a considerable amount of money. Hamilton’s rarely seen Jazzmaster Face-2-Face stands as a notable exception to this concept, offering the conversation-starting drama of a rotating, double-sided case with a semi-skeleton design for far less than this sort of horological theatricality usually commands. The new limited edition Hamilton Jazzmaster Face-2-Face III is the latest revival of the line which was first launched in 2013, and for this third generation the marque combines remarkably clean basic visual concepts with an impressively eye-catching rotating case system to create a striking new halo design for the brand.
There’s no denying that the rotating stainless steel case of the Hamilton Jazzmaster Face-2-Face III is large. At 44mm-wide and a hefty 17.25mm-thick, this case design should cut an imposing figure on the wrist, but keeps most of the Jazzmaster line’s classical hallmarks intact. Disregarding the size, this is a remarkably clean chronograph design at first glance, with long flowing lugs and distinctive rounded trapezoidal pushers flanking a narrow sloping polished bezel. The Jazzmaster line’s unique notched case side design shines through here as well, with the broad tapering polished lug chamfers transitioning abruptly to a flat polished upper case side surface for a surprisingly angular twist in images. Of course, this sense of simplicity can be deceiving, and that’s where the Jazzmaster Face-2-Face III’s centerpiece comes in. The entire cylindrical mid-case swivels along the 3 o’clock to 9 o’clock axis, revealing a second sapphire crystal on the caseback, complete with a minimalist chronograph layout topping the movement rotor. Although this rotating mid-case design is not strictly new, this is still a rarity in Hamilton’s market segment, and this relatively straightforward traditional chronograph design changing its geometry on a whim is undoubtedly an eye-catching flourish. This complex case construction is not without downsides, however, as the Jazzmaster Face-2-Face III is rated for a mediocre 50 meters of water resistance.
As the name suggests, the Hamilton Jazzmaster Face-2-Face III offers a pair of dials that can be swapped between at any time. For the semi-skeleton primary dial, Hamilton keeps much of the look of other Jazzmaster chronograph models intact, but adds a sense of visual complexity courtesy of a multi-layered, semi-skeleton design with bold blue accents. The nickel-plated dauphine handset and sharply faceted tapering indices are pure classic Jazzmaster, lending a more refined and dressy edge to the three-register chronograph layout. Hamilton undercuts this sense of dressiness in images with dynamic elements such as the radially brushed outer chapter ring, which extends into the center of the dial at 3 o’clock to form a bold contrasting plaque. For an added sense of drama, the dial is cut away to reveal the full dial-matching date wheel, while each of the three subdials adds its own nuance to the mix. The 12 o’clock chronograph minutes subdial continues the main dial’s matte black surfacing, but adds a subtle recessed inner area for added light play. At 9 o’clock, the running seconds subdial offers three distinct visual layers in images, each with contrasting finishes including matte blasting, radial brushing, and azurage. For the 6 o’clock chronograph hours subdial, Hamilton employs a rich cobalt blue sunburst surface in images, echoing the blue of the central chronograph seconds hand and shifting the overall visual weight of the design towards the lower half of the dial. Overall, although it’s far from minimal in its presentation, this primary dial design is restrained enough to belie the avant-garde gimmicks of the Jazzmaster Face-2-Face III, and should make the watch more suitable for daily wear.
By contrast, the reverse side of the Hamilton Jazzmaster Face-2-Face III offers a more deconstructed look at the chronograph complication. In the most basic sense, this is a skeleton dial, but the functionality is restricted to a central chronograph seconds hand and a pair of outer tachymeter and pulsometer rings in silver and blue. Everything else visible beneath this sapphire crystal is the Valjoux 7750-based H-41 automatic chronograph movement itself, and the brand gives this familiar movement architecture some handsome finishing in images. The upper bridges, the balance cock, and the mainplate are finished with tight, even perlage, while the custom cutout rotor adds both linear and sunburst brushing. Although the basic platform behind the H-41 may date back to the ‘70s, the H-41 itself is a thoroughly modern performer, with a robust 60 hour power reserve at a 28,800 bph beat rate. Hamilton completes the watch with a deeply patinated mahogany brown leather strap featuring dramatic blue contrast stitching.
With a design that combines classic Hamilton cues and eye-catching rotating functionality, along with a robust movement and solid build quality throughout, the limited edition Hamilton Jazzmaster Face-2-Face III offers an impressive level of horological spectacle for the price without sacrificing quality. Only 999 examples of the Hamilton Jazzmaster Face-2-Face III will be made, and the watch is available now through authorized dealers. Although an MSRP of $2,995 USD (as of press time) places it near the top of Hamilton’s price hierarchy, this is still a remarkable bang for the buck when it comes to conversation-piece horology. For more details, please visit the brand’s website.