When Hamilton introduced the new three-hand Hamilton Pan Europ watch collection for 2014, they made a point to ensure we paid attention to the NATO-style watch straps they developed for the set. “We are really proud of our NATO watch straps,” was the message I got in advance of seeing them. I mean, while differences exist, NATO is NATO, right? Well, yes and no. As you may be aware, NATO-style watch straps are really “in” right now. The watch industry always needs some type of trend to rally behind, and the NATO strap trend is one they particularly like because they feel as though they didn’t need to pull it out of a hat.
Yes, the NATO strap thing – whether you love the concept or not – is a true bona fide natural phenomenon, and the watch industry is doing its best to cater to what they feel your needs are. The irony, of course, is that one of the major reasons NATO-style straps became popular is for their colorful looks, simplicity, ability to make vintage dress watches looks sort of modern and causal, as well as their dirt cheap prices. In regard to the latter consideration it is amusing to see how the luxury industry has dealt with the fact that most NATO-strap are about $10 – $20 each, and that the industry is used to selling straps that cost $100 – $500 each.
To lets get back to the Hamilton Pan Europ and these new versions that are available with NATO-style straps. The Hamilton Pan Europ started as a limited edition chronograph a few years ago, became the non-limited edition Hamilton Pan Europ Chronograph, and has now for 2014 added a three-hand version that I quite like.
Based on a vintage Hamilton watch from the 1970s, the Hamilton Pan Europ has a cool 42mm wide steel tonneau-shaped (barrel-shaped) case with an admirably sporty look and comfortable fit on the wrist. I am personally a fan of tonneau-style cases that have round dials and rotating diver’s bezels. Unfortunately, the Hamilton Pan Europ is a dive-style, but not diver’s watch, with its 50 meters of water resistance. The case finishing is quite nice, with a mixture of polished and brushed surfaces.
Hamilton has two versions of the three-hand Hamilton Pan Europ with either a metallic blue or gray dial. Over the dial is an AR-coated sapphire crystal, and the dials are both legible and attractive, with their block-style hands and sloped flange rings. One slight concern, as these are sport watches, is the relatively limited amount of luminant painted in the applied hour markers, but we haven’t tested the Hamilton Pan Europ in the dark.
Inside the Hamilton Pan Europ watches is the Swiss ETA-produced caliber H-30 movement that they say is exclusive to Hamilton. This movement takes a base ETA movement (I believe a 2836) and decreased the frequency from 4Hz to 3Hz, but increases the power reserve from about 40 hours to 80 hours. You can see the automatic movement through the caseback window on the rear of the watch, but it will be covered up for the most part if used with the NATO strap – not that big of a deal.