While Rolex and Omega were selected to accompany 007 on his most daring and dangerous adventures, equally interesting characters have been seen sporting Hamilton watches, commonly in Christopher Nolan movies: from the “Murph” and Khaki Aviation Day Date in Interstellar to the Khaki Navy BeLOWZERO in Tenet. Nolan’s latest movie, Oppenheimer, invited us to discover vintage Hamilton models that most of us were probably unaware of. A total of six models from the 1920s to 1940s were featured in the movie, seen on the wrists of Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, and Matt Damon. One of these models — and the one that caught my attention the most — is the Lexington, a 28mm monochromatic time-only watch that deserves a deep dive.
What We Know About the Hamilton Lexington
Leading up to World War II, Hamilton began manufacturing watches for the U.S. and British military, like most American watch manufacturers. This led to the creation of several models based on the military specifications delineated by each country’s war office. In other words, the A-11 was allocated to U.S. soldiers and the A.T.P. (Army Trade Pattern) to British soldiers. In parallel, Hamilton was still manufacturing watches for civilians, at least until 1942. What makes the Lexington special is the fact that it was the brand’s first stainless steel model which they started producing in 1940 or 1941. Unfortunately, the Lexington was only produced for one to two years, and today only a few examples remain. Fun fact: Cillian Murphy wore a legitimate vintage model for the movie.
Design and Specifications
Besides being Hamilton’s first watch coming with a stainless steel case — before which brands would use plated zinc or chrome for their military models — the Lexington comes with a unique design which truly and instantly fascinated me. In one way, it looks like many other mil-spec field watches having a full stack of Arabic numerals and a small seconds register at the 6 o’clock. On the other hand, it looks elegant and even avant-garde, thanks to the Art Deco numerals and the slim case profile: complete with a small recessed crown and dual-finish case (indeed, the case had polished and brushed accents).
In terms of specifications, the Lexington measures 28mm wide and 36mm long and is equipped with a 17 jewel Hamilton 980 caliber. The caliber is actually square, not round, perhaps something that can be attributed to the unusual nature of this model. Although it was branded as being “For Military Use” (see ad below) the Lexington was not sold or worn by soldiers, but on some occasions by officers. The case-back did not bear the typical military spec-sheet which would have indicated military use, nor did it use the mil-spec calibers 987A and F series of the time.
I came across the Hamilton Lexington thanks to Oppenheimer, a 3-hour long picture that blew my mind — something that happens whenever I watch or re-watch one of Christopher Nolan’s recent creations. And although it was neat to see Hamilton make the Khaki “Murph” for the movie’s fans, I couldn’t care less for it. Just like I didn’t entertain the idea — not even for a second — of acquiring one of the 888 Khaki Navy BeLOWZERO the brand made after Tenet. I either found these watches to be too big, too military-esque, or too expensive. However, I would instantly jump at the opportunity to acquire a modern recreation of the Lexington. Alas, and as far as I know, Hamilton does not plan to re-create any of the six vintage Hamilton’s featured in Oppenheimer.Header image source: vintagehamilton.com