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. **