Created by a former GM designer, the original Hamilton Ventura debuted in 1957. The public was amazed not only by its novel battery-powered electric movement, but also of course by the stylish triangular shape. The Ventura gained everlasting fame when Elvis sported one in the 1961 blockbuster “Blue Hawaii,” hence the “Elvis” nickname affixed to several Ventura models to this day. The 80 at the end of the name, by the way, appears to be in honor of Elvis’ 80th birthday in 2015, when this line of watches made their debut.
Here at the Watch Review Blog, we find the Elvis80 Quartz model in this review to be the cleanest, most timeless design in the current Ventura lineup. With that iconic shape, all Venturas are extraordinary to look at compared to most watches, however, we find some of the designs to be overly busy or avant-garde in their presentation. The Elvis80 quartz, however, uses a nice clean layout that just seems to work best with the angular case shape. This dress watch should complement your most stylish outfits, even your “blue suede shoes.”
The Ventura is marketed as a unisex watch, but with a nearly 43-millimeter-wide case, I would guess the that the majority of buyers are of men (not that women can’t pull off large watches, they just tend to buy smaller designs than men). The highly-polished case is probably the first thing people notice about this watch, with its decidedly irregular shape. Starting on the left side, where the case comes to a blunt point, notice how the edges being to bulge out as you work your way to the right. I imagine the designers of the watch use this feature to balance out the size discrepancy between the two sides of the watch. These bulges, top and bottom, quickly taper down at the halfway point of the watch as the dial widens.
Here is another fun little design detail: on the right side of the case the bezel recedes compared to the other sides. The sapphire crystal actually slopes down to meet the recessed bezel on this side, with one small bit around the crown jutting out. With such a specialized design, I imagine replacements for these crystals are super-duper expensive, so I would advise taking extra care with it, or else it will be “heartbreak hotel” for you. Also, note that the watch is rated as water resistant to 50 meters, so no prolonged submersions.
The back of the case has a nice chevron pattern engraved into it, with “Ventura” written right across the middle. Four exposed screws hold the case together, making for easy access to replace the battery when that time comes.
Even though it evokes some midcentury modern vibes, this watch still achieves a highly contemporary feel, thanks mostly to the posh dial design. A white date window replaces the 3 o’clock hour marker, right where the crystal makes its exaggerated slope. This curvature in the crystal can make the date somewhat distorted, making me wonder if it wouldn’t have been better to place the date in a different spot.
The bright orange from the second hand is picked up by the first 15 chunky minute markers that ring the outside of the dial. After 15, these markers turn a much subtler gray color that nearly blends in with the background of the dial in certain lights. The hour markers are all angular and jutted, mirroring the design of the case.
Resembling smooth ripples in a pond, the stainless-steel bracelet’s arching link design is just unique enough to pull off its juxtaposition with the case and dial.
A double push button-release opens the fold-over clasp to reveal some nice exposed screws on the inside; this would not be a difficult watch to work on yourself, which is something I really appreciate.
H24551131 ETA Movement
The ETA F06.111 quartz movement used in the Ventura appears by all accounts to be a great Swiss quartz movement, as you would expect from ETA. With nice slim design that incorporates 3 jewels (you know, for stability in case the watch gets “all shook up”) and an end-of-life feature that has the second hand move in 2-second intervals when the battery is low.
A watch with such an unusual appearance is certainly not for everyone: you have to realize that you will almost certainly be discussing this timepiece with people if you wear it out. The glimmer of the case will catch their eye, and the bold design will draw them in. You probably won’t mind, however, as any admirer “can’t help falling in love” with such a debonair watch.
Hamilton suggests a retail price of $1095, a substantial $400 less than its automatic sibling. I know that automatic movements have a special appeal, but that’s a hefty premium over the quartz, so that right there makes the Elvis80 Quartz a decent value.