December 27, 2019 - Authored By: Dale E. Malick
Much has been written about the Hamilton Intra-Matic Auto Chrono. The first version came in a 42mm case size with a reverse panda dial. It was limited to only 1,968 examples and was known as the Hamilton Intra-Matic 68 Auto Chrono.
Before we review the Hamilton Intra-Matic Auto Chrono, let's briefly discuss its predecessor, the Hamilton Intra-Matic 68 Auto Chrono, Reference Number H38716731.
The Hamilton 68 Auto Chrono was inspired by the Chronograph B of 1968 (thus the limited examples of 1,968). The Chronograph B of 1968 was also available in a traditional panda dial, known as the Hamilton 1968 Chronograph A. Both variants were introduced in the year 1968. The Chronograph B was made until 1971 and the “A” model was only available until the year 1969. Both models came with a stainless steel bracelet and the case size was a modest 36mm.
Like its modern day counterparts, there are two sub-dials. The sub-dial at the 3 o'clock position is a 30 minute counter and the sub-dial at the 9 o'clock position is an active seconds counter. Conspicuously missing is the date window at the 6 o'clock position. Both models featured Hamilton's 17 Jewel, 643 caliber manual movement. Caliber 643 was based on the Valjoux 7730 manual winding chronograph movement.
As previously mentioned, the Hamilton 68 Auto Chrono case size is quite large at 42mm. It is powered by Hamilton’s H-31 automatic movement; based on the ETA Valjoux caliber 7753 automatic movement. It has a robust power reserve of 60 hours. One of the most interesting features of the H-31 movement is the “H” pattern design on the oscillating bridge.
The particularly large stainless steel case size is complemented by a smooth polished bezel, a large screw-down signed crown, pronounced chronograph pushers and a date actuator at the 10 o'clock position. The reverse panda dial is protected by a sapphire crystal and the watch's design flows handsomely with the leather calf perforated vintage inspired strap. Surprisingly, the 68 Auto Chrono is water resistant up to 100 meters.
Now that we know the foundation as well as the vintage inspiration of the Intra-Matic 68 Auto Chrono, let's now focus our attention to the second edition; the Hamilton Intra-Matic Auto Chrono, Reference Number H38416711.
The Hamilton Intra-Matic Auto Chrono, like its older brother, features the same H-1 automatic movement with a power reserve of 60 hours. The water resistance is the same and both watches are quite thick in case size. Respectively, the Intra-Matic Auto Chrono is slightly smaller; coming in at 14.45mm compared to the 14.7mm on the Hamilton 68 Auto Chrono.
The Intra-Matic Auto Chrono comes with a traditional leather calf strap and unlike its predecessor’s 22mm lug width, the Intra-Matic Auto Chrono’s lug width is 20mm. Both watches use a standard pin buckle closure.
The obvious difference between the two versions is the dial. The Hamilton Intra-Matic Auto Chrono features a panda dial. At first glance, the dial color appears to be a true white. However, the dial color is actually an off-white, soft beige. It does feature the same smooth polish bezel, signed screw-down crown, flared-out chronograph pushers and a date actuator at the 10 o'clock position. However, probably the biggest difference is the case size. It comes with a much more livable 40mm case diameter. I find the case size to be acceptable, but the 49.5mm lug to lug width is a little excessive.
I would have preferred a 38mm case size with either shorter lugs or even, shorter and curved lugs. Although, from my perspective, the watch does wear well on my 6.75" wrist.
Like many contemporary watches, I find the case thickness to be towering, but unlike my Breitling Transocean 38 Chronograph, it is proportionate to the case size and lug width.
The date window is symmetrically placed and is bordered nicely at the 6 o'clock position. The white insert window with the black font is very legible, but interestingly, the white date insert window is noticeably different from the off-white dial color. To be critical (and why not) I would have preferred a date window similar to the iconic Chrono-Matic, Reference Number 11002-3 (a black window insert with a white font). The aesthetic opposite of the panda dial would add better contrast and really make the dial pop!
The no thrill leather strap is very soft and supple. It has a crowd-pleasing 20mm lug width and the strap is non-tapered. Personally, I prefer a tapered strap since it creates a visual start to finish continuity. Nevertheless, it is much more suitable than the 22mm lug width on the Intra-Matic 68 Auto. All things considered, I really like the strap, but I would have preferred a tapered strap or better yet, a stainless steel bracelet like the original Hamilton 1968 Chronograph A.
The watch retails on Hamilton's website for $2,195. This does represent an exceptional value compared to other well known brands and models, such as the Tag Heuer Carrera, Reference Number CV211E.
Although I believe it makes sense to either purchase the watch from a gray market dealer, or find a nice pre-owned version. I bought mine from a seller on eBay for $1,350. It came with both boxes, papers and the International Warranty Card. Either way, you can save a considerable amount of money.
Taking everything into consideration, I really love the watch. Although if I could have my cake and eat it too, I would have preferred a smaller case diameter and lug width. Nevertheless, the watch does have an impressive wrist presence and truly is reminiscent of its vintage counterparts. In the end, or to use one of today’s more overused cliches...“At the End of the Day,'' (BTW - the only thing that happens “At the End of the Day” is Night-Time), the Hamilton Intra-Matic Auto Chrono is a solid 8.
Article Written By: Dale E. Malick Founder & CEO of Watch2Wear
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