MOVIES THAT MADE US WATCH: A Crown for A King
It takes a lot of skill and practice to become a master at one’s craft. If good enough, the people may even deem this master a “king”. This is exactly the path that the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley, took during his career. Around the same time that Hamilton was working on the Ventura, Presley was working on breaking into the music industry. In March of 1956, he released his debut album, too much excitement and commercial success. The album did so well that it became the first rock and roll album to top the charts, peaking at number 1 for 10 weeks. Now what does a music career have to do with an electric powered watch? Well, when the most famous rock and roll artist of the time becomes a fan of the quirky and unique look of the Ventura, everything. Presley became what you could call one of the first watch influencers when he decided to don the Ventura for himself in the film “Blue Hawaii”.
Elvis with his Ventura on set of Blue Hawaii (Hamilton)
Released in 1961, the film follows a recently discharged Chadwick Gates (Elvis Presley) as he ventures home to Hawaii to let loose a bit and make his own path through life. As mentioned earlier, Presley chose to wear his Ventura throughout the film. The watch can be seen as the perfect analogy to the character of Chadwick. When thinking about the military, the words structure, order, and discipline come to mind. One of the hallmarks of each of these traits is being on time, so it would make sense to wear a timepiece. However, Chadwick’s character is also a bit of a rebel, not wanting to fit into the life that his father wants for him. He wants to go and surf the Hawaiian waves and make his own path. This is exactly where the Ventura fits in. The watch’s philosophy of having a more accurate movement and pushing the boundaries of the technology at the time is the order and discipline that Chadwick experienced in the Army. However, the structure and design of the watch, being so unique, new, and rebellious are the same as Chadwick and who he wants to be. He does not want to fit into the life that people want for him, just as Hamilton did not want to make a watch that fit in and blended into the crowd of other watches. With the popularity of the movie, and Presley, the watch became more and more known across the world, leading to it being known as the “Elvis Watch”, a name Hamilton would lean into when they designed the Ventura Elvis 80 Auto (Which can be seen on the wrist of another “King of Cool”, Robert Downey Jr. in Spiderman: Homecoming) and other special edition Elvis Ventura watch. The Ventura Presely wore was originally produced from 1957-1963 before the model was discontinued. In fact, with the growing popularity of high accuracy quartz watches in the late 60’s, Hamilton stopped production of all of their electrical watches until the release of the Pulsar in 1970.
25 years after production ceased, Hamilton decided it was time to revive their style icon. The new Ventura featured a Swiss made quartz movement instead of the electronic movement that the original models had. The change positioned the timepiece to compete against other popular watches of the time, such as Swatch. It wasn’t until about a decade later that the Ventura was back in the pop culture spotlight.