Hamilton have taken sporty chic to a whole new level with the introduction this month of its new Jazzmaster Performer Chronograph. The Jazzmaster line, which has been a staple for Hamilton, offers a broad range of contemporary timepieces from open hearts to skeleton dials to thinline quartz. It even has several preexisting series of chronographs in the Auto Chrono, the Chrono Quartz, and the crafty Face to Face. And while all models in the Jazzmaster Collection tread the blurry line between sports watches and dress watches, none embraces the adrenaline-laced world of motorsports with as much gusto as the Performer Chronograph.
Outside the Jazzmaster Collection, Hamilton is no stranger to chronographs, either. Beyond the aviation offerings in the brand’s Khaki Collection, one could be forgiven for mistaking the Performer Chrono as an extension of the American Classic Collection, alongside the shared automotive DNA of the Chrono-Matic 50 and the Intra-Matic Series. Indeed, this new chronograph reaches back to the brand’s American roots, channeling track and oval icons of the past with its unmistakable nod to the Daytona.
The Performer Chrono is available in three references–two in 316L stainless steel, differing in bezel and dial colour only (featured here), and a third in PVD Rose Gold. All measure 42mm in diameter and are 15.22mm thick. The watch has a lovely contoured swoop down to a lug width of 22mm, and on bracelet, this taper continues to a 20mm clasp. The finish is circular brushing with finely polished chamfers and rectangular pushers. The knurled push crown is also polished and nicely sized for easy operation. Both bezels–whether steel or matte black PVD–are inscribed with a tachymetre scale.
Through the exhibition, screw down case back, you can see the H31 movement which powers the watch. The rotor is partially skeletonized and decorated with a laser cut out of the Hamilton logo. The bridge is also inscribed with the telltale “H”. The calibre is a variation of the ETA 7753 and features a Nivachron balance spring with a 60-hour power reserve. The watch is rated to a solid 100m of water resistance.
Beneath the sapphire crystal, the chronograph sports a classic, recessed sub-dial layout at 3, 6 and 9. The interior of each sub-register is finished in a lovely azurage and ringed in a variation of stark reverse panda counters. The outside edge of the dial repeats the motif with a matching minute track. In addition to the central chronograph hand, there is a running seconds, a 12-hour totalizer, and 30-minute indicator. The hour indices are applied and treated with Super-LumiNova–as are the dauphine hands. A relatively subtle, colour-matched date window appears at 4:30.
In all, the timepiece has a classy, iconic balance that is clean and visually powerful–particularly the black dial reference with its stark matte bezel which just seems to focus the eye. Case finishing is also impressive at this range with the rectangular pushers offering just a touch of contemporary flair in what is essentially a retro aesthetic.
All three dial variants are available on a leather rally strap; whereas, the black colourway is also offered on a stainless steel bracelet. It is a standard three-link variety and is largely brushed with butterfly clasp.
|Case||316L Stainless Steel (or PVD Rose Gold)|
22mm Lug Width
Screw Down Display Case Back
100m Water Resistance
|Dial & Crystal||Sapphire Crystal|
/w Double-Coated AR
|Movement||H31 (ETA 7753)|
60-Hour Power Reserve
|Strap||Stainless Steel Bracelet|
or Leather Rally Strap
Hamilton Jazzmaster Performer Chronograph
Hamilton makes a lot of watches. It also makes a lot of chronographs. However, with the exception of the Chrono-Matic and Intra-Matic, most of the brands iconic chronographs are seeded in an aviation background. The Khaki X-Winds and Pilots are the brand’s bread and butter and offer complex precision means for navigation in conjunction with their timekeeping capabilities. In some respect, the Jazzmaster Performer Chrono fills a hole in the watchmaker’s catalogue–even if no one realized it was there. Despite its 70s styling, the Performer Chrono does not come from the brand’s back catalogue. It is an entirely new addition. And a welcome one.
While the bracelet on the black dialed variant is nicely finished, and I like the continuity offered by the butterfly clasp, it does use male end links. This artificially extends the lug to lug measurement. Those with smaller wrists might find this to be an issue.
I first encountered the Hamilton Jazzmaster Performer Chrono at a novelties release party in Toronto earlier this month. Among the numerous impressive designs destined for ADs this year, the chronograph stood out for me. The archetypal reverse panda dial and the matte black bezel, in particular, is a compelling expression. Yes, there are echoes of Daytona. For that matter, doesn’t every chronograph, in some way, look like a Speedmaster? Hamilton are not reinventing the wheel, here. They are iterating on a familiar aesthetic. Riffing, as it were. Let’s not forget, though, that before Paul Newman came along, the Daytona was a tough sell. I suspect the Jazzmaster won’t have that struggle. As much as it harkens back to the aforementioned racing icons, it also does an admirable job of being its own watch. The rectangular pushers and the unprotected crown, for me, are perfect. The azurage within the sub-registers is a step up in class. The baton-style markers and the polarized chapter ring are inspired choices. And while dauphine hands do not immediately spring to mind when conjuring up the platonic chronograph, those too just seem to elevate the composition. In the end, the Jazzmaster Performer Chrono is a sleek customer.
The chronograph starts at $2195USD on a leather rally and $2245 on the bracelet. For more information, please visit the brand website.
About the author
Brent Robillard is a writer, educator, craftsman, and watch enthusiast. He is the author of four novels. You can follow him on Instagram.
Off The Cuff articles are full-length, hands-on reviews of the watch in question and represent the opinion of the author only. All photos are original, unless specified otherwise. If you would like to have your watch reviewed on this site, contact us here.
Please understand that using any links to products on this site might result in us making money.