Hamilton Intra-matic 38mm Watch Review

Hamilton Intra-matic 38mm Watch Review

Hamilton Intra-matic 38mm Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Introduced at Baselworld 2012, the Hamilton Intra-matic was the follow-up to the Thin-O-matic and it took the "vintage inspired" trend a step further, towards what I would call "modern vintage." Aside from the movement and the flush mounted crystal, one could almost believe that the Intra-matic was NOS (new old stock), found in your Granddad's drawer, minty and forgotten for over fifty years.

The trend towards watches that pay tribute to brand's legacy models is one that the watch world has seen many times and to varying degrees of success. The Hamilton Intra-matic is an interesting example of this trend in that the aesthetic of the watch is purely vintage 60's, but the aesthetic is not used exclusively for irony and nostalgia. While I would agree that the Intra-matic is a very nostalgic timepiece, it is also one with practical and modern elements that translate well to today's wrists.

Hamilton Intra-matic 38mm Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The Intra-matic comes in two sizes, a 38mm version which is featured in this review, and a 42mm version.

I had originally requested the 42mm for review as I seldom wear watches smaller than 40mm. While I did not yet know it, it was a fortunate happenstance that no 42mm samples could be sourced for the review. A 38mm was sent instead, and I have found this size to be excellent. Given the minimal bezel, expansive dial, and extra long baton markers, the Intra-matic wears much larger than the case measurement would suggest. I can only assume that the 42mm version would feel closer to 45mm on the wrist.

Please see the included video which shows a side-by-side sizing comparison with a 41.5mm Omega Seamaster.

This 38mm dress watch is 10mm thick with a lug to lug length of just 44mm. These proportions, along with the 50g weight (on the included leather strap) make the Intra-matic a very comfortable and exceedingly wrist-friendly option for those with smaller or thinner wrists. If you have a large wrist or prefer the presence of a larger watch, stop by a Hamilton retailer and try both on for size, you may be surprised by which model you prefer.

Hamilton Intra-matic 38mm Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

With a very minimal polished steel case, much of the Intra-matic's character comes from its simple but elegant faceted lugs and its expansive sunburst dial. While I think this is the best version, there is also the option of a black dial or even a model with a gold case. The dial carries no numerals, with long and legible baton markers making up the only scale present in the design. Dial text is right on the line of being obtrusive and one could argue that Hamilton need not include both "automatic" and "Intra-matic" on the same dial. Most prominent in the dial design are either the large and vintage inspired Hamilton "H" logo, or the date window which is integrated at six o'clock. The Intra-matic has no seconds hand, which is something that I would really miss if I were going to use this as a daily wearer. The hour and minute hands are done in a stick style which matches nicely with the hour markers.

The end result is a beautiful watch which features a simple but elegant design that pays tribute to Hamilton's American roots.

Hamilton Intra-matic 38mm Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Powering the Intra-matic is the ETA 2892-2, a reliable and very capable timekeeper that is often seen in watches costing much more than this Hamilton. Viewable via the display case back, the 2892-2 has been nicely, but not ornately, decorated. Given the lack of a seconds hand, I cannot accurately state the timekeeping ability of my review unit. Featuring a signed Hamilton rotor, the 2892 is a 21 jewel automatic that was notably used in many Omega models as the cal 1120 and as the base of the early versions of Omega's coaxial movement, the cal 2500. It is fairly uncommon to see this movement in a watch costing less than $1000.

Hamilton Intra-matic 38mm Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

It is in this combination of a practical but elegant vintage design matched with a very reliable movement that the Intra-matic is found to be so charming. The time display is very legible and thanks to the black on silver minimal design, can be read in very low light despite having no luminous dial elements.

I am torn on the lack of a seconds hand. On most watches, it would be a deal breaker but it seems to make sense on the Intra-matic, especially if you're planning on using a watch like this not as your daily-wearer, but as your go-to dress watch. Ultimately, the importance of a seconds display is up to you and Hamilton offers other dress watches in the Jazzmaster and Timeless Classic ranges which are slim, elegant and employ a seconds display.

Hamilton Intra-matic 38mm Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Hamilton's list price on the 38mm Intra-matic is $870, with the 42mm costing a bit more at $945 USD. The exact model seen here is the H38455751 and you can see the entire range here. That is an excellent price and I think the Intra-matic will compete not only against options from Christopher Ward and Tissot, but also against Hamilton's own Jazzmaster and Thin-O-Matic ranges.

Where the Intra-matic differs from much of its competition is the sizing and its purely vintage design. If you've always wanted a vintage watch but didn't want the hassle of maintaining and possibly sourcing parts for a 40+ year old watch, the Intra-matic is a great alternative.

Hamilton Intra-matic 38mm Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The look is about as dressy or casual as you want it to be, not looking too out of place with jeans and likely right at home with a suit. Either way, the Hamilton Intra-matic acts as a callback to a time many of us have idealized as being in some way classier, sexier, or perhaps smokier. The Intra-matic gives you a taste of 60's Don Draper-ism without the cancer, liver failure, and broken marriages so many of us conveniently forget. It's all of the charm with none of the costs, unlike that fedora you're still trying to pull off.

Necessary Data
>Brand: Hamilton
>Model: Intra-matic (H38455751)
>Price: $870 USD
>Size: 38 x 10mm (44mm lug to lug)
>Weight: 50g
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes
>Friend we'd recommend it to first: Someone looking for a dressy alternative to their daily sport watch, or the biggest fan of Mad Men you know.
>Worst characteristic of watch: No seconds display
>Best characteristic of watch: Vintage appeal without the headaches of vintage ownership

What do you think?
  • Thumbs up (11)
  • Classy (6)
  • I love it! (6)
  • I want it! (5)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Kris C

    I like the mix of throwback on the top, and then modern on the back (the view of the movement is uber modern in contrast to the dial)even though this one is a bit of a snoozer. That said, as sad as some might think, the removal of a seconds hand is a non-starter for me and I’m content to pass on this based on that alone. Makes no sense.

  • CG

    Fedora’s always looked stupid especially on vertically challenged men and hipsters that try to wear them today, remember almost all men took their hats off when indoors or when being introduced to a woman; though Hollywood would have you think otherwise. This watch screams for a second hand… BTW Having worked with many ad agency goofs over the many years, Mad Men is BS but liquid lunches were common… Today it’s sushi and coffee

  • bichondaddy

    Well…I have several vintage watches that look similar to this one…but they have a seconds hand…which I prefer.  At 38mm this one is just to small for me….and even the 42mm is a tad small for my liking.  I happen to be quite a bit taller and larger than most people are…and at 6’6″ and having 23cm wrist…that small of a watch isn’t something that looks good on me.  Just from the pictures in your review…a 47mm watch looks the same on my wrist as the 38mm looks on yours.  Most of my friends are quite surprised when they see my watches on their wrist, telling me it didn’t look so large when it was on my wrist.  But then again…they are not nearly as big as I am.

  • gleam

    I’ve owned this watch since September (38mm silver, on bracelet), and it’s really a fantastic watch. I think the thickness is more like 7mm, although it may rise higher with the domed crystal. It’s very slender and it slides easily under a tight cuff. The bracelet is solid, but lightweight and well balanced against the weight of the head.

    I do agree that the lack of a second hand is the big weakness. It definitely makes it a more authentic dress watch, but it is missed. I’ve even looked into adding a second hand, but I think it would, ultimately, hurt the aesthetic. 

    Timekeeping has been excellent, gaining about 5 seconds per day (although, again, the lack of a second hand makes it difficult to be precise). It’s a superb watch for the money.

  • Ulysses31

    Classic good looks, but nothing special.  So many manufacturers have dabbled with this design over the years that the customer is spoiled for choice.  Might as well pick up a vintage Omega that looks exactly like this off eBay.  If you want something larger with the vintage vibe, Marvin has you covered.    Two failings of this watch (which is a shame because it is lovely) are the smallish size options and no sweep seconds.  One of the problems I have with vintage watches in general is the size, otherwise I would own/wear a lot more of them.

  • bichondaddy

    Too small for my 23cm wrist…and no second hand.  I have several vintage pieces that have a similar look to them, but they all have second hands, which I prefer.  I might consider one if it were a bit larger…as I need at least a 45mm watch for it not to look too small on my wrist.  I don’t wear my vintage pieces that often because of their size, but I do wear them around the house just to keep them functional.  I might be more interested in one if they made a 45mm version.

  • nateb123

    What is with people’s second hand fascination on a time and date only watch?  The only people I know who are using watches for their second hands regularly are medical professionals.  It’s otherwise pointless, like the water resistance rating on a watch you never take swimming.  Sounds like the very dull moaning of very dull people.

  • HawaiianHorology

    I like the look of the watch a lot.  However, since they removed the seconds hand, it makes me think they wanted to do the “dressier” side of watches.  If that’s the case, a date complication is a little odd (You need to set the date every time you dress up?).   They should have either gone all one way or the other.  A dressier type watch with applied hour markers, no seconds hands and no date.  Or included the seconds hands if they wanted a date window.

  • arthurdavis

    I agree with the other gentlemen. Part of the major appeal of an automatic watch is watching the large sweep second hand. I don’t even like small seconds that much. If I was to buy a chrono I would prefer a watch with a small seconds timer and and a central regular seconds hand. I know you give up legibility that way. After owning so many quartz watches in my lifetime I really appreciate the sweep of the automatic, seems more natural.

  • ZL

    Took you guys long enough to review this! Been wanting this watch for a while now, it’s just overpriced here in Shanghai. I’m thinking of the one with the gold case though.

  • tcurtius

    I don’t understand an automatic watch with no seconds hand. Otherwise, this watch looks perfect. I love watching the smooth sweep and being able to gauge the timekeeping. How can you possibly know if this watch is keeping good time? And what’s the point of having a nice movement?
    That being said, if I could get this watch for under $500 then I’d buy it in a heartbeat. It looks damn nice.

  • Simple style watch and good looking.

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