The (retro) future is NOW.
For one of their newest reissues, Hamilton has dug into their back catalogue, a little closer to the surface this time than for current re-visitations such as the beloved Khaki Field Mechanical (a.k.a. the “Hamilton Hack”), the mechanical Khaki Pilot Pioneer, and the Khaki Pilot Pioneer Chrono Quartz.
While the original, military-issue versions of these watches existed primarily during the Vietnam era, Hamilton’s newest nostalgic offering harkens back to the bold, gold 1970’s. Pivoting from the field-ready, mostly three-hander tool watches of the above-mentioned releases, Hamilton has resurrected a watch that’s more glam than grunt.
The Hamilton PSR is a faithful reimagining of the original Hamilton Pulsar P2 2900 LED watch. The original release of the P1 in 1970 was quite a big event. While LED technology had been developed and used by scientists for decades prior, it was an expensive technology to produce, particularly for a consumer product. The P1 was released in 18k gold and sold for $2,100 (think about that with inflation!). The P2 came later in 1973 and, while made in the more affordable stainless steel, carried a price of $395 which was more than the cost of a Submariner.
People sure do love shiny things and pretty lights.
The PSR takes its design cues from the latter watch, replicating it’s (now retro) futuristic aesthetic on a nearly one-to-one ratio. The case size and styling, somewhere between a UFO and a spoon, are almost identical, as is the dial, a black window with bright, laser-red numerals that give me serious Cylon vibes. The difference is in the tech. While LEDs were effective at lighting up, they were also a drain on the watch’s battery.
Plus, you could only see the time when you pressed a button on the case to make the numbers light up. This time around, Hamilton uses an LCD/OLED hybrid display which is visible in daylight (faintly) and the lack of a needed backlight makes telling the time use up less power. What’s missing is the P2’s “secret” magnetic bar (hidden under the bracelet) used to set the time. That would have been neat.
Overall, the PSR (so-named because “Pulsar” has been since trademarked by Seiko) is a marked change from Hamilton’s recent blasts from its past. Oh, and did I mention the original P2 was a Bond watch (See: Roger Moore, Live and Let Die)? The price tag is quite hefty for a digital watch ($745 for stainless steel and $995 for the yellow gold PVD version, limited to 1,970 pieces) but you could get at least two and half Submariners for that in the 70’s so that’s something. It’s on the pricey side for me, personally, but I’ve heard at least one of our TBWS contributors buzzing about it and you can’t deny the funk.
• Crystal: Sapphire, anti-reflective coating
• Dial: LCD and OLED hybrid display (reflective in daylight/red illuminated text)
• Bracelet: Stainless steel or yellow gold PVD coated stainless steel
• Movement: Digital quartz
• Price: $745 (stainless steel) / $995 (yellow gold PVD coated stainless steel)
• Additional Information: Yellow gold PVD coated version limited to 1,970 pieces
Henry is a scholarly watch nerd based out of northern New Jersey. He works as a professor of composition and creative writing by day and a fiction writer by night. Both his academic and creative work have given him insight on design and rhetoric and his fiction writing background influences his humorous, narrative take on watch reviews. His watch collecting habits tend to lean toward vintage, but he never shies away from unique and interesting new pieces. Henry is also an avid musician, record collector, whiskey aficionado, serial hobbyist, and all-around enthusiast.