The 2017 Broadway Day Date Automatic (refs. H43515735 & H43515135), Hamilton’s recent attempt at grabbing their share of the growing “affordable dress watch” market, offers a nice blend of the interesting exterior, good build quality, and one of the best “long-play” mass-produced automatic movements that you can get in the sub-$1k price range. Unexpectedly elegant and amazingly refined, right now this may be one of the best choices for the money.
Hamilton is often associated with military and adventure-inspired watches. Still, the formerly American and now Swiss-based brand wants to make a serious move into a niche that is currently dominated by brands like Tissot, Certina, and perhaps a bit more expensive Longines.
Last year, their gorgeous Khaki Navy Frogman automatic “diver” brilliantly combined original styling with a water resistance of 300 meters (I still hope that Hamilton’s local PR representative will be generous enough to lend me one of these beauties for a hands-on review.) For the upcoming season, they’ve introduced the Broadway.
The collection is available in two shapes: a three-hander with an extended calendar (the one reviewed in this article) and a more aggressive-looking chronograph. The Broadway offers an exterior design that nicely combines generic -if you don’t mind the adjective- cases with original dials that are inspired by Art-Deco, an interwar arts movement that still forms the architectural face of the New York City.
An ETA-sourced movement that successfully aggregates such highly sought-after qualities as reliability, accuracy, and generous power reserve in just the right proportions, too, helps a great deal to make this Broadway Day-Date collection even more attractive. At least, more attractive for a person who always preferred an old-school mechanical movement to a modern quartz movement. The “electric” one may be more accurate, more reliable, and, to top it all, may give you years of hassle-free experience compared to an automatic or hand-wound caliber, but it severely lacks in the soul department. And the mystical ‘soul’ (or maybe less metaphorical ‘attitude’) is something that the Broadway collection will give you in spades.
As a net result, with the Hamilton Broadway, you get yourself an ultimate dress watch for a price of a 128GB iPad Pro. Unlike Apple’s gadget, it will stay relevant for decades if you take good care of it and don’t try to save on scheduled change of oil and some basic regulation. In other words, I can’t recommend this collection strong enough given you can afford one.
Case, Bezel & Strap
When it comes to the stainless steel case, it is not especially distinctive. Its shape is generic, but the finish is good and the way the machine-brushed surfaces of the body are accented by a mirror-polished fixed bezel is nothing but elegant.
Yes, the shape is standard and dull, but that also means that it has an average person in mind. I mean, an overwhelming share of potential customers will find this slightly oversized 42-millimeter case deliciously comfortable for their normal wrists.
The crown, too, is standard and, too, is easy to operate and that’s all you probably need from it. It is nicely finished with the same “stylized H” logo engraved on it and, from the point of view of ergonomics, looks almost impeccable.
The leather strap that comes with the ref. H43515735 by default features a rather unusual “central line” motif, as well as high-contrast, well-executed stitching on both sides.
The finish makes the strap look more interesting, but the overall texture of the material looks inexpensive and somewhat ‘plastic’. As always, this doesn’t seem to be a real problem. There are dozens, if not hundreds of gorgeous aftermarket leather straps out there that would fit the timekeeper’s exterior with no problem.
As far as the bracelet is concerned (it comes with the model that is offered under reference number H43515135,) it is a more or less standard job, nothing is particularly interesting here safe for Hamilton’s signature H-shaped fold-over, push-button release clasp.
Perhaps, the only thing that disappoints me a little is a fairly mediocre water resistance rating of just 50 meters (5 BAR) that significantly limits the Broadway Day Date’s versatility. I understand the reasoning behind the choice of water-tightness: this is primarily a dress watch that isn’t supposed to be taken for hunting expeditions or into a swimming pool.
On the other hand, I am fairly positive that the Broadway Day Date will be often worn not with formal attire, but with a lot more casual dress and this often implies activities that are outright dangerous for a piece with such an unimpressive WR. You may find solace in the fact that there is a number of a lot more rugged-looking timepieces (yes, I am looking at you, Breitling) that offer the same water resistance at a far higher price.
Dial & Legibility
This may be subjective, but, in my opinion, these refs. H43515735 & H43515135 are one of the most beautiful “day of week” watches that are currently available on the market in this price range.
The vertical lines not only make the dial look soberer, but are also good at matching the Bauhaus-style typeface. The font is used for both calendar wheels that are visible through square-shaped apertures stacked vertically atop each other at six o’clock and beautifully counterbalanced by a logo box at 12. While arc-shaped “day” apertures already look banal and boring, this one makes a good impression blending organically into the overall “lines and angles” style of the Broadway’s face.
On a side note, I must admit that I was extremely relieved to see that the Hamilton design team decided to opt-out of the omnipresent Broadway typeface and its numerous derivatives. I guess we are all extremely tired of the font family used in just every place that is even passingly related to Art-Deco era that is often associated with the famous street.
The hands, the applied hour-markers, as well as the single Arabic numeral at 12 o’clock perfectly match each other in terms of styling (something that you don’t see that often in sub-$1000 USD price range) and reinforce the same “vertical decor” styling of the rest of the face.
The hour and minute hands, and the beautifully sculpted central seconds hand, too, feature just enough Superluminova compound to glow brightly in all conditions.
Regrettably, this isn’t the case with the indices.
There is a place for strips of lume here, too, but for some unknown reason, Hamilton decided against using the luminous substance.
They probably feared that the dial would look not as dressy with all the extra patches of Superluminova. Whatever reasons there were, the nighttime legibility suffered from this decision. Take into account that this -otherwise absolutely beautiful wristwatch- is not dressy enough to be worn exclusively during office hours and that it will probably be used as a more casual accessory that implies a lot wider range of lighting scenarios, and here is the mediocre score of just three points out of five in the respective part of the verdict.
Yet, overall legibility is still respectful 4.5 points out of 5.
The Caliber H30 is based on the relatively fresh ETA C07.111 “Powermatic 80” self-winding movement with a “day of the week” module slapped atop of it. Being an iteration of the good old caliber ETA 2824-2, the contraption offers the same outstanding level of reliability and ease of use while delivering a power reserve of whole eighty hours, which means that you can leave the watch in your drawer for more than three days without any negative effect on its ability to keep good time (you probably already know that, as the mainspring gradually unwinds, the balance wheel starts to oscillate at a slower speed and at some point the watch starts to lose time).
So, if you prefer to get their watches off their wrists on Friday night only to put them back on Monday morning, you are probably golden.
If you are into this sort of engines that offer extended power reserve at a limited price, you have probably already seen a number of watches made by the Swatch Group that feature the same caliber in slightly different styling (we have already reviewed the gorgeous Tissot Luxury Chronograph T086.408.16.051.00 and the nice Certina DS Powermatic 80 that also happen to be the Broadway‘s direct competitors.)
To increase the mechanism’s power reserve from less than two days to a lot more respectable 80 hours, ETA has -if memory serves well- equipped the movement with a different mainspring, as well as slowed it down from 28,800 vph to a more archaic 21,600 semi-oscillations per hour.
Now, there is a widespread belief that a faster movement usually means better accuracy, but that’s not necessarily true. As one commenter has put it (I am sorry, it’s been a long time and I forget the source and have to sort of quote the guy in my own words, so, if you are reading this, please excuse me for no credit given), a faster mechanism increases accuracy by compensating external factors. However, it makes even more important that all inner parts are made with greater precision since even a small error in regulation may be greatly amplified by a higher frequency of the balance wheel and this requires more precise tools and more thorough initial regulation that inevitably increases the cost of the blank caliber.
Anyway, I have read nothing but good reviews of the mechanism with most users reporting accuracy well within the specified range just out of the proverbial box. The only thing that you may not like is that, due to the lower frequency of the movement, the central seconds hand moves across the chapter ring in a slightly -but visibly- jerkier fashion, something that may become a source of irritation if you are already accustomed to watches that are powered by engines beating at a faster pace.
As far as finish goes, the movement looks better than a stock mechanism, but still gives you an idea where the Swiss brand cut a corner or two to make the price so low. Still, I can’t call the finish ‘poor’ — it looks way better than similar calibers from ETA or Sellita that are installed in similarly priced products.
Pricing & Availability
At the time of posting this review, the Hamilton Broadway Day Date Automatic on leather strap (ref. H43515735) was officially offered at $995 in the United States and CHF 945 here in Europe. However, some online stores were already selling the timekeeper at just $630 (that was the lowest price that I was able to find, but that doesn’t mean that there wouldn’t be shops selling the Broadway at even more competitive prices after all rebates, promo codes and all the usual stuff,) which, in my opinion, makes the gadget an interesting proposition from a “real” brand. A version on the steel bracelet will be a bit more expensive, but that won’t make it any less interesting.
Yes, you can find even more affordable watches from independents, but in this particular instance, you get yourself a device that is powered by a robust movement, features traditionally good build quality, and will be a lot easier to sell when the time finally comes to let this beautiful device go. Your mileage may vary, but, from my perspective, this is one of the best gifts that you can make for the only person you’ll love till death does you part: your precious self.
Build Quality: 5/5
Overall Legibility: 4.5/5
Nighttime Legibility: 3/5
Value for Money: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4/5
Hamilton Broadway Day Date (refs. H43515735 & H43515135) specification
Price: $995 (MSRP) / CHF 945
Movement: Caliber Hamilton H30 (base ETA C07.111), Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 25
Movement frequency: 21,600
Power reserve: 80 hours
Movement decoration: Skeletonized oscillating weight with Hamilton logo, circular-graining finish on bridges, and the balance cock
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, day
Case: Stainless steel
Size: 42.00 mm
Dial: Black, decorated with vertical lines
Numerals: Arabic 12
Hour markers: Stainless steel, applied, Skyscraper-style
Water resistance: 50 meters
Strap: Black leather strap with central line motif, contrasting stitching, stainless steel folding clasp / Stainless steel bracelet
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective