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.
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.
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.
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.
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’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.
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.
>Model: Intra-matic (H38455751)
>Price: $870 USD
>Size: 38 x 10mm (44mm lug to lug)
>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