With Baz Luhrmann’s much-hyped Elvis biopic hitting theaters this week, the King—helped alongside by Austin Butler and a wardrobe co-designed by Miuccia Prada—is ready to reclaim his rightful place on the moodboard throne. Elvis’s modern-day stylistic legacy could be all sequined jumpsuits and large gold shades, however there was extra to his wardrobe than these kitschy standbys. Together with high-waisted pants and Hawaiian shirts, he additionally collected watches, with a penchant for diamond-studded Omegas and the Rolex King Midas—in different phrases, fashions value emptying the royal coffers for. However there’s one Elvis-approved timepiece that doesn’t demand a king’s ransom: the Hamilton Ventura.
Dreamed up within the late ‘50s by American automotive designer and sci-fi journal illustrator Richard Arbib, the Ventura was the world’s first electrical watch, and its angular case was as groundbreaking and futuristic as its interior workings. Impressed by—and rooted in—the design hallmarks of the tailfin period, it mixed the smooth industrial traces of a googie diner with the atomic kookiness of a George Nelson clock. The Ventura wasn’t an immediate hit, however when Elvis wore it in 1961’s Blue Hawaii it turned as synonymous with the singer as blue suede loafers, and remained inextricably tied to him ever since.
The Ventura stayed on the forefront of watch know-how for only a few years, however the 2022 model retains all of the sci-fi optimism of the unique. Hamilton has riffed endlessly on the mannequin’s legendary design within the interim, incorporating chronographs, skeleton dials, and outsized circumstances (even trotting out a wild denim-on-denim model)—however the unapologetic midcentury cool of the OG nonetheless shines the brightest.
Thankfully, the model additionally sells a mannequin that’s about as near the unique because it will get, right down to the gold-plated case, fake crocodile strap, and sub-$1,000 value. That makes the Ventura one of the crucial fashionable—and traditionally vital—watches you should buy at retail, and the quickest method to channel Elvis’ hip-swinging heyday with out monitoring down a Vegas-ready jumpsuit.