Hands-On: The Hamilton Intra-Matic 68, A Neo-Retro Take On A 1960s Reverse Panda Dial Chronograph

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This is the best new Hamilton watch of the year, hands-down. It’s not even close, really. A reverse panda dial chronograph was always going to be a fan favorite, and this one has a well-balanced layout with just enough of its own personality that it stands out from similar chronographs. All of that makes for a very interesting watch.

Black and white dials are hot right now, whether they are panda (primarily white with black sub-dials) or reverse panda (the opposite). Several companies are turning to that dial combination, which recalls some of the great Daytona and Autavia chronographs of the 1960s– and their recent reissues.

Hamilton Intra-Matic 68 Autochrono

Of course, Rolex and Heuer were not the only ones making watches that fit this description. Hamilton, among others, also had a few panda chronographs in its line-up. The new Intra-Matic 68 Autochrono honors those watches and reconnects Hamilton with an important part of its history, when reliable and accurate chronographs were its main focus. It also happens to be where vintage enthusiasts are converging at the moment, so the timing couldn’t be better. This one in particular is based on the Chronograph B, a watch Hamilton launched in 1968 (hence the name of the new model), but it also draws on the Chrono-matic which had the same date placement and was also automatic.

Hamilton Intra-Matic 68 Autochrono reverse panda dial

The basic layout of the dial is the same as on that original chronograph, with a running seconds counter at nine o’clock and the 30-minutes totalizer at three o’clock. There is however the addition of a date at six o’clock – luckily the date disc is black with white printing and it doesn’t stand out too much.  The revised tachymeter scale is displayed on a silvered ring on the outer edge of the dial (not a rehaut though), and the color perfectly matches the sub-dials.

Hamilton Intra-Matic 68 Autochrono

The watch is in stainless steel and measures 42mm, which is a size that had many concerned, but on the wrist it didn’t feel problematic at all. If however, you’d prefer a smaller version, vintage is still the way to go, as those pieces are still relatively affordable, despite the growing interesting in vintage Hamilton. Would this piece have been better at 38mm or even 40mm? Yes. But like I said, at 42mm this is still a winner and I suggest you try it on before making a final judgement.

Hamilton Intra-Matic 68 Autochrono wristshot

The watch is powered by Calibre H-31, an automatic chronograph movement with a 60-hour power reserve. It’s based on the ETA 7753 but with the power reserve bumped up for this Hamilton-exclusive execution (the 7753 has a 42-hour reserve). It’s not visible in this particular model because of a closed back, which is how all chronographs from the 1960s and 1970s would have been made. Kudos to Hamilton for resisting the very real urge to add a revealing sapphire back.

Hamilton Intra-Matic 68 Autochrono

The Hamilton Intramatic 68 Autochrono is a budget-friendly reverse panda dial chronograph, with features that are both original to the brand, such as the dial layout and mushroom pushers, and a hit with new customers. Only 1,968 pieces will be made, in honor of the launch year of the Chronograph B, and these will be offered on the company’s e-shop and at retailers for $2,195.

For more information, visit Hamilton online.

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