Wristwatch restoration, servicing and repair

Hamilton Odyssee 2001 (Hamilton Cal. 694)…

A Hamilton this time and one with something of a back story as I’m sure that the Odyssee 2001 name hasn’t gone unnoticed by any film buffs out there.

(Click pictures to enlarge)

In 1966, before filming of 2001: A Space Odyssey began, Stanley Kubrick (who incidentally always wore two watches, one on each wrist) approached Hamilton to produce a futuristic wristwatch to be worn by the astronauts in the movie. Designs were submitted and approved and when released to the press, potential customers were clamouring to buy the space-aged wonder.

As a result of the interest, Hamilton planned to release an identical model to the market in conjunction with the film release in 1968, but it quickly became apparent that it wouldn’t be cost effective, so the watch in this post was produced instead.

The name ‘Odyssee 2001’ was apparently chosen by Hamilton to avoid any potential copyright issues. It also transpired that although the prop watch was produced, delivered and used in promotional events, it never actually appeared in the movie.

Although nothing like the original design, the Odyssee 2001 had a futuristic appearance for the time with its circular, well… everything, and triangular hands. What isn’t apparent from the face-on shot is the shape of the case which has a ‘wedged’ profile and could well have been the inspiration for the 1970’s Camy Superautomatic Airport which I wrote about on the blog a few years ago (that post here).

The watch in this post was the first model, introduced in 1968, and a more reserved model followed with the same case but more mainstream dial markers and hands.

The watches also fit nicely into Hamilton’s quirky Fontainebleau range which were on sale at the time. Although not pictured here, the caseback on the Odyssee 2001 also bears the Fontainebleau name.

The fun began pretty early on with this one as due to the case design, it case proved very difficult to open. I’m sure Hamilton will have produced a specific case holder for the watch and I certainly could have used one here! Being completely round, having no external lugs and one hidden lug being higher than the other, it didn’t fit any of my case openers. Add the fact that it was rusted together too made it a real tough nut to crack.

I eventually got it open, and without damaging anything too which was a relief. Here’s a picture of the complete case and I’ll offer a little advice to anyone else attempting to open one of these.

Although the securing ring looks like a regular screwback, it isn’t. The ring has two tabs on the sides which slot into a lip in the upper case holding it all together. When the ring is turned anti-clockwise 90 degress (so that the tabs are in the lugs), the upper case, crystal and gaskets can be lifted off, leaving the watch in the inner mono-bloc case. The split stem is then separated like a traditional one-piece case and the watch can finally be removed.

Once inside, things didn’t look too bad. The movement is a Hamilton cal. 694, which is essentially just a rebranded ETA cal. 2472. It obviously hadn’t been serviced for quite some time, as evidenced by the amount of rust on the case too I guess.

A full movement service was all that was needed to get it back up and running so with all the rust removed and the case thoroughly cleaned, the watch could be rebuilt.

The watch still had its original Hamilton signed mesh bracelet too which is always nice to see.

All in all, an interesting and rare watch that you won’t see too often.

To round off this post it may be of interest to know that Hamilton did release a version of the original prop watch in 2006 as a 40 year anniversary model, the ODC X-01. The main watch is powered by a mechanical ETA cal. 2824-2 and each subdial is driven by a quartz movement. The watch was limited (somewhat predictably!) to 2001 pieces.


** Many thanks to Justin Swale for letting me feature his watch on the blog. **

3 Responses to “Hamilton Odyssee 2001 (Hamilton Cal. 694)…”

  1. Louis Juarez Says:

    I just acquired one of these Odyssee 2001 watches . They really do have a striking appearance. I got the 2nd version , the one you are calling a reserved model . The hands and buckle on the bracelet have matching serrated lines through them and the bracelet is a different design than the first model .
    I saw one in a book at the library and it grabbed me ,…I had to have one . Luck was in my corner because I came home and did a search and found one .
    I did another search to see what info I could gather on this watch and came across your blog featuring this watch , and I’m glad I did because I wanted to do a service on it . Your explanation of how to remove the movement saved the day , and as you said , this watch is just round and hard to hold it in place to remove the ring in the back .

    I managed by leaving the bracelet on so it wouldn’t spin , but I also found out that because the case is slanted and deep on one side , I couldn’t keep my Jaxa wrench in the slots and had to be very careful that I didn’t slip and leave a scratch on the back .

    The service was straight forward on the ETA 2472 , and after cleaning the case I had no trouble assembling it back together .

  2. Jeremy C. Says:

    I believe that the Hamilton-designed prop as shown in your lede photo was actually used in the film. It’s in prominent view on Gary Lockwood’s right wrist for about 20 seconds starting at 1:10:32 in the movie.

    I just watched the film earlier this evening and Gary Lockwood/Frank Poole’s watch really jumped out at me, which led me to search it out on the web and landed me here at your blog! The production version is very intriguing and I very much enjoyed your article.

  3. Rich Says:

    Thanks for the correction Jeremy, duly noted!