In The Shop – HODINKEE Shop Exclusive: The Hamilton Intra-Matic 38mm ‘Champagne’ Dress Watch

The new Intra-Matic Automatic 38mm “Champagne” is the latest watch to result from the HODINKEE Shop’s close relationship with Hamilton. For over two years, we’ve worked with the American-born, Swiss-based watchmaker to bring you a curated selection of the brand’s classic models (such as the Khaki Field Mechanical), compelling new variants of those much-loved designs, and even a watchor two – inspired by the blockbuster films in which Hamilton has recently appeared. However, nothing has made us more excited than today’s release. 

We worked closely with Hamilton to refine the design of one of its essential watches, the versatile and dressy Intra-Matic Automatic 38mm. We’ve long been a fan of this model for how it rests comfortably in between the worlds of vintage and modern watchmaking, with pared-down proportions and a less-is-more approach to design. Our creative collaboration fine-tunes this classic, resulting in a beautifully crafted dress watch that stands out with its subtle champagne dial with sunken hour markers, a slim 38mm × 10mm steel case, and an attractive price tag of $ 845. We think it’s one of the best dress watch options anywhere for under $ 1,000 – and the HODINKEE Shop is the first place where you can purchase it. 

The Hamilton Intra-Matic Automatic 38mm ‘Champagne’

Hamilton has excelled, in recent years, at interpreting the essential elements of its classic watches in an attractive and approachable manner that appeals directly to enthusiast sensibilities. It’s clear that Hamilton has not forgotten about its vintage catalog; rather, it’s an intrinsic part of the company’s identity that remains at the ready for contemporary adaptation. The new Hamilton Intra-Matic Automatic 38mm does exactly that, reviving one of the company’s mid-century dress watches with a new, ebullient design in the customary affordable and wearable package.

The Hamilton Intra-Matic Automatic, like today’s example, references the wristwatches produced during the company’s final years in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. In 1965, Hamilton purchased Buren, a Swiss manufacturer which had developed and patented a unique automatic movement with a micro-rotor that permitted exceptional thinness. In its current form, the Intra-Matic rejoined the Hamilton catalog in 2012 as part of the company’s American Classics series. It has largely remained the same, with slight aesthetic enhancements over the past eight years. Today, it receives its most significant update yet.

The new Hamilton Intra-Matic Automatic features a radiant dial with a rich champagne sheen and incised markers that punctuate the dial every hour, providing dimension and character. The engraving is slightly thicker at the four poles, giving the dial a natural balance and an attractive immediacy. The color of the dial is the clear highlight here; there was much debate among the HODINKEE Shop team about how best to describe it. You won’t find the reddish tones seen on the “salmon”-colored dials that are so popular today. It’s also not quite tan, nor beige, nor honey; instead, it has the glint of gold, with a slight, warm sparkle that catches the light – similar to the effervescent, pale glow of a crisp glass of bubbly. That’s how we settled on “champagne” for the name, and like the beverage that inspired it, the new Hamilton Intra-Matic is both light in tone and weight, but immediately impactful in all other ways – to put it simply, this is a small, slim watch with a big and bright personality.

The rest of the dial features printed branding in black, notably including Hamilton’s stylized vintage logo underneath 12 o’clock. The tapered, baton-style hour and minute hands indicate the time cleanly with their pointed, triangular tips. The minute hand even curves downward to match both the sloping of the dial at its periphery and the domed shape of the sapphire crystal. In classic dress-watch form, there is no hurried rush of a seconds hand, but less conventionally, there is a date window. Here, it takes the form of a subtly beveled aperture at six o’clock, with no effect on dial symmetry, and is surrounded by a neat black frame. It’s a functional nod toward its intended daily use in today’s smart-casual business environment; you might not always need to be on time to the exact second, but you had better know what date it is. 

The 38mm stainless steel case comprises clean lines with angular lugs that slope downward to meet a supple brown leather strap. The strap is straightforward, with a grained texture, zero visible stitching, and a slight taper to the steel pin buckle. Its simplicity, however, belies its overall quality; this is one of the softest and most comfortable straps we’ve found on any watch under $ 1,000. The light, warm color of the dial and convenient 20mm lug width also means this watch will look great with any number of strap options. Try shell cordovan or crocodile leather if you want to kick the look up a notch over the upcoming holiday season. It would even go well with a leather NATO, just in case you want to relax your watch’s appearance during warm-weather months. 

The case measures 10mm in height, but wears even slimmer due to the domed sapphire crystal.

Every part of the case, from the rounded caseband to the barely-there bezel, is fully polished, giving it a refined character. The crown is signed with the Hamilton “H” logo and is easy to grip with its coin-edge finish. Overall, the Hamilton Intra-Matic Automatic wears a touch larger than its 38mm diameter indicates, thanks to the minimal bezel, the large dial expanse and long handset, and the trapezoidal lugs. Interestingly, at the same time, the watch wears even slimmer than its stated 10mm. The domed sapphire crystal adds an extra millimeter or two to the total measurement, resulting in a remarkably low-profile wrist presence that will seamlessly slide underneath any shirt sleeve or jacket cuff. It’s an excellent mid-size case design fit for modern wrists, regardless of gender or age.

Visible through the exhibition caseback is the reliable and robust ETA 2892A2, a workhorse automatic caliber that has been used by Hamilton and a number of other prestigious Swiss watchmaking firms, at all price points, over the past two decades. It features an attractive Hamilton-branded oscillating weight that helps the watch efficiently attain up to 42 hours of running autonomy. The Intra-Matic Automatic can be hand-wound and features quick-set functionality for the date.

Although the Hamilton Intra-Matic has the form of a quintessential dress watch, we think it can be dressed up and down with ease to match any sort of outfit. It’s the definition of a daily driver, with a versatile style that looks just as nice with a sweater and jeans as with a blazer. It can quickly translate from formal to casual wear, thanks to its simple, warm design that won’t attract undue attention. However, we’ll warn you now: Once the new Intra-Matic Automatic 38mm hits your wrist, it’s a hard watch to take off.

Discover Your New Favorite Dress Watch In The HODINKEE Shop

Every day, we’re faced with many choices, but choosing a quality dress watch this fall and winter shouldn’t be one of them. Whether you’re a dyed-in-the-wool fan of sport watches, have never owned a dress watch before, or are looking for a less precious – but just as nice-looking – alternative to the dress watches you already own, the new Hamilton Intra-Matic Automatic 38mm “Champagne” fits the bill. And if you’re already the owner of a Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical, we think the new Intra-Matic Automatic makes the perfect complement to its toolish charm; in fact, they might be the only pair of watches you ever need.

A new contender for the ultimate affordable “two-watch collection”? 

You can learn more and purchase the new Hamilton Intra-Matic Automatic 38mm “Champagne” for $ 845 right here.


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