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Rover Haven is a maker of custom shell cordovan watch straps. 

Fun Affordable Watches, Part 2: Hamilton Thin-O-Matic 38 mm ref H38415581

The Rover Haven Blog

Light hearted writing about watches, life, and the intersection of watches and life.  

Fun Affordable Watches, Part 2: Hamilton Thin-O-Matic 38 mm ref H38415581

Myron Erickson

Fun Affordable Watches Part 2. Hamilton Thin-O-Matic Auto 38 mm, Reference H38415581

I thought I was safe, for one weekend anyway, having scratched the Affordable Watch Itch with the Victorinox Swiss Army AirBoss Mechanical.  But darned if someone didn't make a look-at-my-new-shiny-thing! post on a Hamilton forum somewhere, and the new shiny thing was the 38 mm white-dialed Thin-O-Matic.  The poster suggested that his had been difficult to find new, at least compared to its 42 mm sibling, which jibed with my own sense of the Thin-O-Matic's availability. 

You see, I owned this watch once for a couple years, and I really liked it.  But I had bought mine second hand and it was something of a beater.  Although it was running fine, I knew it was getting close to needing a service and didn't want to make the investment in it, so one year during a collection purge I sold it.

 The Hamilton Thin-O-Matic 38 mm.  A modern classic.  And cheap too.  

The Hamilton Thin-O-Matic 38 mm.  A modern classic.  And cheap too.  

But after seeing it again on that  look-at-my-new-shiny-thing! post, I took a look online and of course I turned one up with relative ease on one of the bigger gray market reseller sites.  Their standard price of $450 was already 47% off of the $845 theoretical retail price, which seemed like a pretty good buy to me.  Still, it wasn't quite good enough to hook me and make me violate the No Repeats Rule.  But dash it all if they weren't having a 20% off sale on top of that.  My already weak resistance to this watch completely crumbled, and I bought-it-now for the all-in price of $359.  No Repeats Rule, I damn thee.  

There have been a million reviews of this watch, including on that really big, really successful, really famous watch blog that starts with an H and rhymes with no other word in the English language. And the truth is there isn't much to tell that isn't immediately obvious by inspection, so it's not like I'm going to reveal its secret charms to you.  With this watch, you either just get it or you don't. 

 The Thin-O-Matic on a Horween Natural shell cordovan strap.  

The Thin-O-Matic on a Horween Natural shell cordovan strap.  

Regular readers will know I love the Jet Age HAMILTON and stylized H logos.  And the Art Deco numeral font is just plain cool and nicely executed here. The 38 mm case size is perfect for a watch of this style, and the quality of the dial, case, and overall construction simply punch above their weight class for a watch that costs this little.  One could niggle that it would be better off without a date window at all, and I wouldn't disagree, but it doesn't bother me on the 38 mm watch, unlike its 42 mm sibling, where the words sore thumb come to mind.  

 In 38 mm size, the Thin-O-Matic's date window is subtle enough.  

In 38 mm size, the Thin-O-Matic's date window is subtle enough.  

To celebrate the second coming of this watch into the Rover Haven flock, I put it on a very special Arts & Crafts strap.  I had just gotten some new prinking irons for strap making from KS Blade Punch, and I felt that along with a couple other watches I own, this Hamilton would wear particularly well on a strap made with the KS Blade tools.  

What makes these tools different than the CS Osborne irons I usually use is the closeness and slight offset of the holes they produce.  It results in a strap that's just a little dressier than my normal Arts & Crafts vibe.  I have a circa-early-1960's Omega that I'll be doing the same thing with, actually.  So stay tuned for a future blog post about that watch.  

 Wearing the Thin-O-Matic 38 feels like wearing your grandfather's watch.  Except it fits you better. And it keeps better time.  

Wearing the Thin-O-Matic 38 feels like wearing your grandfather's watch.  Except it fits you better. And it keeps better time.  

In 40 years of watch hoarding, I have broken my No Repeats Rule four times, and for all but one of these excursions the second experience with the watch in question proved that I should never have parted with the original watch in the first place.  I can confidently say this charming little Hamilton has found a permanent home in my collection.  In case you're wondering what the other three No Repeats Rule breaches were:  

  • Heuer 1550 SG Bundeswehr.  See my review of this watch in a post a few below this one.
  • Seiko SARG011.  These watches have become super-collectible.
  • Hamilton Pilot Pioneer Auto Chrono.  A deeply flawed watch I wanted so badly to love.  Still, I might even have to try again with this watch some day...
 A trio of happy Hamiltons. 

A trio of happy Hamiltons. 

Concluding this little review of the Hamilton Thin-O-Matic 38 mm, I asked myself what is it about this watch that I find so compelling?  What would I say to a friend to convince him to buy one?  The sexy movement?  Hardly.  Haute horology?  Definitely not.  Worn by a famous actor or former astronaut?  No.  Solid build quality, classy wrist presence, and a sense of just really nailing a modern reissue of a heritage design?  Yes, yes, and yes.  If you are in the market for a dressy-casual or casual-dressy watch, can afford three or four hundred bucks, and want a timeless design that would be in good taste in any circumstance, I strongly encourage you to check out this watch.  But you better hurry before they're all gone.  

 The Thin-O-Matic 38 mm, ref H384150.

The Thin-O-Matic 38 mm, ref H384150.

I hope you enjoyed this post on the Thin-O-Matic.  As always, I welcome your comments or corrections and love hearing from other enthusiasts.  Thanks for reading my blog!