Friday, 13 September 2013

Nostalgia in a 45 - Hamilton Pan Europ Auto Chrono

Hmmm... Are them designers experiencing mental block or really dry on ideas? The market seems to be flooded with retro-inspired offerings. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. However, over-hyping these pieces on their history, rich or otherwise, doesn't tug my purse strings. The watch, in my opinion, has to appeal to you, and its history, only does so much. for example, so what if it's the first watch to break the sound barrier if it looks like a dud on my wrist? I wasn't involved in the record breaking feat, so it does absolutely zilch for me. I get the watch for one simple reason - because I like it.

Then again, I must admit, I have a soft spot for retro-inspired pieces. Especially if they are given a modern update, particularly in size and aesthetics. Truth be told, Hamilton's offerings had never been on my radar. Their products have never really stirred any emotion... Until 2 evil fiends brought the Pan Europ to my attention.

The Pan Europ comes in three guises - two regular production models (black and silver dials) and a limited production in blue dial. I wasn't able to get my hands on the limited edition piece as I only knew of the Pan Europ this year (the limited production was released some years prior). I've picked the silver dial over the black as I find the former more unique. All variants have the same Valjoux 7753 imlpant (Christianed as the H-31 by Hamilton) but tweaked to produce 60-hours of power reserve. However, I've done only one test to date and it stopped ticking at the 55-hour mark. 5 Hours short of manufacturer's specs.

The silver dial is finished with a simple yet subtly stunning sunburst effect. There are two sub-dials (3 and 9 o'clock positions), both are finished with sunburst effect as well. The date window is positioned at 6 o'clock. A tachymeter scale surrounds the chapter ring. The overall layout and design of the dial is simple, functional and easily readable. The bezel, for me, seals the entire package as a yesteryear-inspired racing theme watch. the Arabic numerals on the bezel is reminiscent of the numbers on the speedometer of a vintage road car. However, my first peeve can is also found on this handsome bezel. It's a bitch to use! It is muscle-crampingly tight, and despite the grooved circumference, it is almost impossible to find a grip to turn it.

Flanking the day side of the case (the right side of the case) are the crown at 3 o'clock, piston-styled pushers at the 2 and 4 o'clock positions. The spartan "H" logo is emblazoned on the screw-in crown. And the crown is the source of my second gripe. I'm not sure if it's a technical issue or fault, but whenever I try to set the time with the first pull of the crown, the gears seem to disengage after a few turns. I need to push the crown in and pull out a second time before it can be used to turn without the gears dislodging.

No this is not a dive watch and no that's not a HEV at the 10 o'clock side of the case. that is actually the quick-set date pusher. Hamilton provides a little tool to facilitate this, but I reckon a simple cocktail toothpick should suffice.

From the side the Pan Europ looks like a thinner version of the Aquadive Bathyscape series. I've compared it with my BS 300 and the similarities are there except that the Pan Europ is not as chunky a monkey as the BS 300.

The chunky, monobloc case construction is really a throwback to the watchmaking style of the 70's. It give s very solid feel. The thick lugs, which is essentially incorporated into monobloc case, completes this 70's era package. The finishing of the case is top notch. I reckon it is comparable to that of my IWC 3717. The standard variants are fitted with croc straps while the limited edition is fitted with rally style croc straps. As the lug size is of the common 22mm variety, I've shod mine with a pair of regular Rios rally strap. The spring bars earned the Pan Europ some precious brownie points in my examination. They are bent/ curved, contours to the case to the extent that it's almost airtight.

My third dissatisfaction with the watch is the case back. The excessively thick border is rather pointless, in my opinion. Especially when the font of the regular inscription is so insignificantly small. The movement is also only lightly decorated. The case back window should be at least 10% larger to show more of the movement. One needs to squint (with a monocle) to notice the light decoration on the movement. I can't help but feel that the boffins at Hamilton HQ actually paid more attention to every other aspect of the watch and realized that they had totally forgotten about designing the case back mere hours prior to Basel.

The curved case design, combined with the short integrated lugs ensure that the watch wraps around the wrist neatly. The case height provides further wrist presence.

The lume does not score well with night vision freaks, though. They look more like tiny strands of radioactive twigs on economy mode.

Although it might seem like I have about a ton of dissatisfactions with this little number, I can assure you, I have no regrets getting this. The power reserve is 5 hours short of manufacturer's claims but does it really bother me? No, because if I wear it everyday, it's not noticeable. The issue with the crown might not bode well with some but I'm sure it's not something the service centre can't fix, if it is indeed a fault, moreover, it's still under warranty. The bezel is a nightmare but it's not something I need to use much, anyway.  The case back is is far from nice? well, I look at the dial 99% of the time while my blind wrist has to endure the sight, so I'm fine with that. The lume sucks, but hey! With a watch this good looking, do you really want to keep it in the dark?

Case Size : 45mm.
Lug Width : 22mm.
Movement : Hamilton H-31(Valjoux 7753 base).
Case Material : Stainless Steel.
Water Resistance : 100m.
Crystal : Sapphire.
Power Reserve : +/- 60 Hours.

- A good reproduction and update on an old model.
- A stunning handsome looking hunk.
- No overhyping much on past heritage.
- Clearly legible dial that facilitates quick glances.
- Solid construction and expensive looking finish.
- A helluva bargain. Very good value for money.
- Very nice sunburst dial.

- Possible issue with crown.
- Difficult to turn an exceptionally tight bezel.
- Negligible lume.
- Ugly case back.
- Power reserve 5 hours short of manufacturer's claim.

1 comment:

  1. nice review. i have the same wach too. i put it on mesh strap. i believe that this is an iconic design for the hammy. worth keeping though i was thinking to sell mine. lol