Interstellar is a sci-fi weepie. Other than Joseph Cooper’s attempt to save humanity from extinction, the movie’s about the astronaut’s separation anxiety. Before Coop hits the interstellar highway, our protagonist gifts his beloved daughter a watch – the Hamilton “Murph” – promising to compare it to his Hamilton Pilot Day Date Auto upon return. And what does Murphy do with it? . . .
She tosses it across the room like it’s a cheap SWATCH. Ungrateful little whelp! Then again, maybe Murphy realized that her Hamilton wasn’t a perpetual calendar. Comparing watches decades later would prove sweet FA.
The Hamilton Murph lands on the wooden floor with a big old clunk – and doesn’t break. So there is that.
Movie magic aside, what is the non-Hollywood Hamilton Murph? A one-to-one recreation of the watch bandied about in Interstellar – with the sole exception of “Eureka” lacquered onto the second hand in morse code (as not seen in the movie).
That’s a problem. With the watch’s size I mean. Forty-two millimeters is a great size for a movie prop watch – if not ideal for a ten-year-old actress (who didn’t wear it in the movie). Nor is the Hamilton Murph suitable for anyone with a wrist smaller than 7″ – as seen in these photos.
Some of that’s down to the polished bezel circumnavigating the dial like SPACE ANALOGY HERE. The Murph’s brushed stainless steel lugs, which extend a full 52mm, don’t do anything to help matters, and a lot to hurt them. Thickness is another issue – the 11.2mm Hamilton’s case perches on your wrist like a upside down Frisbee on a kitchen counter.
Well, at least a 42mm minimalist three-hander is a paragon of legibility, right? If only. While the Murph’s simple indices and elegantly segmented needlepoint hands are God’s gift to retro-style time-telling, the XXL timepiece has an enormous flaw: reflections.
Don’t be fooled by PR pics or the snaps I somehow managed to take. Here’s a real-world photo of what the watch looks like in the wild.
For reasons I can’t possibly fathom, Hamilton didn’t bless the Murph’s domed crystal with anti-reflective coating. There are only two situations where you can see the Murph’s deep dark dial: direct sunlight and aiming it at a black background. And there I was thinking the watch was introduced in a darkened room for mood.
It bears repeating: 80 percent of the time, the Hamilton Murph is either a gray dial watch or a mirror. Which is not to say it’s a bad grey dial watch or mirror. Trading on the brand’s American heritage, the Swiss watchmaker has proven themselves perfectly capable of creating a reliable automatic wristwatch. The Murph is no exception.
It’s powered by Hamilton’s H-10 movement – a modified ETA 2824-2. The horologists slowed ETA’s time-tested engine from eight to six beats per second. The mod increased the power reserve from 38 to 80 hours – sacrificing second hand smoothness on the altar of marketing flex.
Hamilton doesn’t make any accuracy claims for its watches. Owners reports that the H-10’s good for +/-15 seconds-per-day. With hacking seconds, it’s easy enough to keep track (our model ran five seconds fast). Better yet, the Murph is hand-windable. The jumbo crown is a joy to twist, the watch makes a lovely sandpapery sound as you do, and you can watch the action through the clear caseback.
The Hamilton Murph’s white-stitched black leather wristband errs strongly on the side of unobjectability. Until you wear it. Given the Murph’s jumbo-sized case and lugs, you have to lash it down tight. Unfortunately, the strap is a tough old bird with a central spine – that may or may not soften by the time humans establish a colony on Edmunds’ planet.
On the positive side, the Hamilton Murph is wondrously luminous. Hit it with a strong flashlight for 30 seconds and you couldn’t ask for more pleasing nighttime timepiece. Which is just as well. Lest we forget, space is really dark. Well, my bedroom is.
Released six years ago, Interstellar has a dedicated fan base. Movie fans snapped up the first 2,555 Murphs with the “tesseract” striped box containing a watch without the Eureka morse code. And why not? The Hamilton Murph is a cinematic hero.
The Murph is also popular because it’s a sensible Swiss automatic – for weak-eyed buyers with a weakness for uncomplicated retro style and a habit of checking their look in the mirror.
There’s nothing quite like the Murph in Hamilton’s catalogue, nothing as simple and unassuming. If only the watch always looked as good as it does in the sun . . .
Model: Hamilton Khaki Field Murph Watch
Case: brushed stainless steel
Movement: Hamilton H-10
Power Reserve: 80 hours
Water resistance: 100m (328 ft)
Weight: 2.8 ozs.
RATINGS (out of five stars):
Design * *
Magnificently modest vintage dial with a beautiful deep, rich black dial – ruined by the lack of anti-reflective coating.
Legibility * * *
Ideal, except for the reflections.
Comfort * *
Right watch, wrong band.
Overall * * * *
If you loved Interstellar, don’t hate Panerai-sized watches and don’t mind the reflections, it’s a well-made Swiss watch with a perfectly judged retro feel.