If you can judge a man by his shoes, then you can judge a gent by his watch. With mobile phones and Mp3 players, many guys have abandoned traditional timepieces, but does a tuxedo ever look complete without a dashing silver wristwatch?

Or does an Eighties high-top trainers and slogan t-shirt combo ever look right without a lump of gold plastic on your wrist? George Walker takes a look at some of the most iconic watch designs from times past.

At home this Easter weekend I went to see my grandparents who live on the edge of the Pennines in Yorkshire. My grandad has an impressive collection of pocket-watches, bought dirt-cheap from market stalls and car boot sales. Restored to their original finery (and sometimes pieced together into entirely new, and slightly bizarre creations) my granddad’s small collection is a relic of a past tradition.

This got me thinking. Last week I left my wristwatch at home while I was in London for a week. I had to rely on my mobile phone to tell the time for an entire seven days. And do you know what? It just didn’t feel right. When a woman asked me the time on Carnaby Street I looked at my empty wrist and mournfully mumbled to the woman “I don’t have my watch.” (Looking back on it, this may have appeared both creepy and disturbing. Apologies, lady on Carnaby Street.)

Men’s jewellery can be a treacherous area for the style-conscious vintage man, but the watch is a time-honoured accessory for the dapper man that just makes an outfit complete. Like a woman who has lost her ring, to go watch-less can make a gent feel that little less gentlemanly.hamiltonelectric4

The history of the watch as a man’s sign of sophistication and style goes back all the way from pocket watches to James Bond’s gadget-laden Rolexs.

Rather than dream about the £30,000 Omega in a glossy magazine, I’m much more likely to be lusting after a vintage style that a vintage star made into a iconic timepiece- I mean, just look how suave Elvis looks with his prized Hamilton Ventura wristwatch (pictured above).

The true King of Vintage loved all things shiny, so it’s no suprise that the slick and modern design of the Fifties Hamilton Ventura became his staple timepiece. Appearing in many of his films and music videos, the watch is a style now firmly rooted in watch history.

Over at the official Elvis site they say: “Elvis’ love of jewellery is well known and his Hamilton Ventura watches were among his favorite items. In his lifetime, he owned three and a Ventura watch can be seen on Elvis in ‘Blue Hawaii’ and in many casual photos from the 1960s.”

The Hamilton Ventura was also brought back for the Men in Black films with Will Smith donning the futuristic design to fight off aliens in style.

If this first vintage timepiece gets your passion for stylish time-keeping going, then you can get the recent replica versions to commemorate what would have been Elvis’ 75th birthday from Hamilton, who are still going strong. Or, if you fancy the true Fifties ones, I’ve found a few out there, like one from Losttimes.com going for $2,099. Not cheap, but this is a pretty collectible style!


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2 Responses

  1. kevie

    What a wonderful article! I have to admit, I don’t pay that much attention to the details of men’s vintage looks. Thanks for letting this old Elvis fan know a thing or two about the King’s favorite wrist watch.

  2. Liza D.

    Picked up a vintage (50s) men’s watch at an estate sale on the off chance that my husband would like it. His reaction, “Can you find me more of these?” Stylish, built to last, and with a wind-up mechanism, one less battery to worry about. : )