The Interstellar Watch: Hamilton Watches Through Space and Time

Aug 17, 2020
The Interstellar Watch: Hamilton Watches Through Space and Time

You might be wondering, “is the Interstellar watch a real watch that is out of this world?” Well, technically, yes, and no. The Interstellar watch that we are referring to is the Hamilton watch used in the popular motion picture, Interstellar. In this epic sci-fi space drama, the director and co-writer Christopher Nolan not only uses the elements of space to tell a unique story but also employs the bizarre concept of time. And part of telling this story involves the use of a key element: the Interstellar watch.

1 | Cooper and his daughter Murph outside their home

About the Movie

For the Interstellar film, the Swiss watch company Hamilton provided two particular watches, and they both serve as important plot devices since time is a crucial element in the story. One of the watches, though, plays a more crucial role in the film. This Interstellar watch is the Murph Watch, which Hamilton actually made specifically for the film. Now, to understand the importance of this watch, we need to focus on the film first. From this point onwards, we have to emphasise that there will be spoilers in this article. So to those who haven’t watched the movie yet, beware.

 

Backstory

Interstellar is another cinematic masterpiece from the brilliant director Christopher Nolan. The film takes place in a bleak future where human civilisation is struggling to survive on Earth. In this timeline, blight — a plant disease — has ravaged the world, killing crops everywhere and making it difficult to grow more. This led to an extreme worldwide food crisis which then forced humanity back into an agriculture-focused society just to get by. At the time of the film, corn had become the last farmable crop, since most of the other crops became increasingly difficult to harvest.

2 | Cooper and Murph with the Hamilton Interstellar Watch

Plot

Cooper, the protagonist of the film played by Matthew McConaughey, was a former NASA pilot who now runs a farm with his two kids and his father-in-law. His daughter, Murph, talks about a ghost in her room whom she believes is trying to communicate with her via ‘Morse Code’. After a dust storm hits the farm and the dust enters Murph’s open window, Cooper notices something strange and states that Murph’s “ghost” was actually a gravitational anomaly. This gravitational anomaly forms a pattern on Murph’s bedroom floor using the sand, and Cooper notices that this was binary code for coordinates.

Cooper decides to go to these coordinates alone, but Murph secretly stows away in his truck for the adventure. The coordinates lead them to a highly secured building that is revealed to be NASA. There, Cooper sees his former mentor from NASA, Professor Brand. He then explains to Cooper that after NASA was publicly shut down, the government later revived it in secret in order to avoid public outrage since investing huge amounts of money into unnecessary programs especially during a food crisis is quite irrational. He also reveals that they’ve been noticing gravitational anomalies for years and there’s even a wormhole that appeared near Saturn. 

The professor further divulges the plan they’ve mustered in order to save humankind. Plan A involves solving Professor Brand’s gravitational equation which will allow for the remaining people on Earth to evacuate the dying planet. Conversely, Plan B allows the possibility of locating other habitable planets from across the universe, and that they’ve already sent at least 12 astronauts into the wormhole to further explore these possibilities. Also, a second expedition is on its way where fertilised human eggs will be taken to these prospect planets in order to give humanity a chance to restart and survive. Luckily, Professor Brand manages to convince Cooper to head back to space and pilot this decisive mission.

Hamilton Watch’s Role in Interstellar

As we’ve mentioned earlier, Hamilton not only provided one of their watches for Matthew McConaughey’s character, but they also made another special watch for the film. This Interstellar watch is also, in a way, a crucial component of the film.

One for You and One for Me

We first had a glimpse at the Interstellar watches after Cooper and Murphy went home after their trip to NASA. Murph locks herself up in her room, very much upset. She doesn’t want her dad to leave and even points out that the Morse Code from her ‘bookshelf ghost’ actually spells out the word ‘STAY.’ When Cooper holds a crying Murph, the Cooper Hamilton Watch is fully featured in the scene. This shot was no accident since it serves as a transition to the next scene.

The two Interstellar Watches from Hamilton
3 | The two Interstellar Watches from Hamilton

Cooper decides to give another Hamilton watch to Murph, saying “one for you and one for me”. He mentions that time will be different for him when he’s in space. It’ll move slower. He further tells Murph that they will compare the time difference in their watches once he gets back, as a sort of assurance that he will come back for her. 

However, he lightly jokes that by the time he gets back, they might even be the same age. This only upsets Murph further, since she realizes that he doesn’t even know when he’s coming back. In a fit of rage, she throws her watch across the room. Seeing how upset she is, Cooper simply tells her he loves her and makes a promise to come back. This is the last time Murph sees her dad for a long time. 

The Eureka Moment

Many years later, Murph is now an adult and works as a scientist at NASA. A dying Professor Brand confesses to her that the gravitational equation he’s been trying to solve for years is impossible to solve without data from within the wormhole. She goes back to her childhood bedroom and notices the watch her father gave her. 

On the ‘flip side’ of the bookshelf, Cooper ends up in the tesseract after passing through the event horizon of the black hole, Gargantua. There, he figures out that he’s been Murph’s ‘bookshelf ghost’ all along and is the one who sent to the child Murph the Morse Code ‘STAY’ to try and prevent himself from leaving. This is done out of grief but at that very moment, Cooper was made aware of what needs to be done. He asks the robot TARS to relay to him the Morse Code for the quantum data he gathered from within the black hole. He then manipulates the second hand on Murph’s watch to tick in Morse Code. 

5 | Hamilton Murph Interstellar Watch

Surprisingly, Murph notices the strange ticking and figures that it’s actually a Morse Code. She believes this is her father trying to communicate with her and immediately puts the pieces together and tries to solve the gravitational equation. When she finally unravels the answer to the seemingly unsolvable equation, she runs across NASA with the papers in hand and throws them in the air, screaming “Eureka!”

The Cooper Watch: Hamilton Khaki Aviation Pilot Day Date Auto

The watch used by Cooper in the film is actually part of the  Hamilton brand’s collection. For years, Hamilton already carries a good reputation in Hollywood, having many of its watches featured in different films. So, it was no surprise that Hamilton once again appeared in the sci-fi film Interstellar. The Cooper Watch is a Hamilton Khaki Aviation Pilot Watch and was specifically chosen since it fit the character design for Cooper.

Hamilton Cooper Watch
6 | Hamilton Cooper Watch

Case

The case is your standard stainless steel with a diameter of 42mm. For men’s watches, the average size ranges from 38mm to 42mm. Watches with these sizes are best suited for those who have wrists that are 6 to 7 inches in circumference. In contrast, those cases that come greater than 42mm are more appropriate for wrists that have a circumference of 7.5 to 8 inches.

Now, let’s talk about the lug width. The watch lugs are basically where you attach the strap. So, the lug width of a watch would indicate the size of the strap that you are able to attach to the watch. For the Hamilton Khaki Aviation Pilot, the lug width is 20mm. If you ever decide to swap the strap with another one, you’ll have to choose one with that same lug width.

Dial

The dial is a classic black with white accents. However, the design isn’t the typical one. On the outermost part of the dial, you will see white markers, with the hour markers slightly larger than the minute ones. Moving inwards, the next part will show large Arabic numerals for the minutes in five-minute intervals, excluding 55, 60, and 5. These numbers are missing because, in their place, there is a large day of the week window. 

Again, moving inwards, you will next see the Arabic numerals for the 12-hour setup, but in a much smaller font. At the 6 o’clock position, instead of a number six, there is a small date window. And finally, in the centre are the three watch hands. For the hour hand, it is filled up to the point where it meets the innermost circle and then hollow from that point up to the tip. Meanwhile, it’s inverted for the minute hand with the pointed end being the filled part. And for the second hand, it’s just a thin line with an arrowhead at the end.

Crystal

This watch has a sapphire crystal. Among the different types of watch crystals, sapphire glass is probably the best option. In fact, sapphire glass scores a 9 on the Mohs Scale of Mineral Hardness, a qualitative ordinal scale that describes the scratch resistance of a material through its ability to scratch other materials. 

For context, the highest possible score on the scale is 10. So, the most scratch-resistant material, according to the scale, is a diamond, which scores a perfect 10. However, it should be noted that the scale doesn’t just use integers. There are certain materials that bear a score between 9 and 10.

Regardless, there are only a few materials that can scratch a sapphire crystal. But still, as unlikely as it may seem, a sapphire crystal isn’t completely impervious to scratches. If you have diamond jewelry, it’s best to store them separately from your sapphire crystal watch. Being mindful of this can really help you maintain your sapphire crystal.

Strap

The Hamilton Khaki Aviation Pilot comes with the classic stainless steel bracelet. As previously mentioned in the case section, this watch’s strap is 20mm wide and is best suited for those who have wrists that are 6 to 7 inches in diameter. Lastly, the stainless steel bracelet has a folding clasp buckle.

Movement

Now, let’s talk about what powers this watch: the movement. The Hamilton Khaki Aviation Pilot runs on the automatic H-40 calibre movement. Since it’s an automatic or self-winding watch, it basically gets its power from the movements you make with your wrist when wearing it. But what about when it’s not on your wrist? Well, thankfully, it has an extended power reserve that can last up to 80 hours. This is definitely a plus when it comes to automatic watches since the market standard is almost half of this. So, if you take off your watch and not wear it for three days, you’ll still find it ticking by the time you get back to it. 

Other Features

Apart from the basic watch elements such as hands and indices, we’ve also mentioned that this watch has calendar windows. It has both a date window and a day of the week window that is easily visible on the dial.

Moreover, the watch boasts an impressive water-resistance of 100 metres. What does this entail? Well, it means that this watch is pretty much safe when subjected to normal water exposure such as splashing, rain, and handwashing. On top of that, with 100 metres water-resistance, you are not only able to shower with this watch on, but you can also take it with you on recreational swims — whether in a pool or in the sea. But of course, this water-resistance also has its limitations. This is definitely not the watch you can use when you are deep-sea diving. It won’t be able to handle water pressure beyond 100 metres. 

Just remember that even if you’re swimming just above the surface, it’s best not to twist the crown since it’ll allow water to get in. It’s also best to wash your watch with clean and fresh water after getting out of saltwater. And once you get home from the beach, make sure to clean it further with soapy warm water and a gentle brush.

The Murph Watch: Hamilton Khaki Field Murph Auto

When talking about the Interstellar watch, most people are probably curious about the specific watch used by Murph to solve the equation. This Interstellar watch was custom-made for the movie and involved very extensive requirements that the people behind the film submitted to Hamilton. With the help of the prop master, they were able to achieve the unique Morse Code ticking that you will witness in the film. At the time, only 10 pieces of this watch model were made for the film and they were all eventually returned to Hamilton. Luckily, due to the massive popularity of the watch, Hamilton finally decided to make the Murph Watch available — sadly, minus the unique ticking.

Hamilton Murph Watch
7 | Hamilton Murph Watch

Case

Similar to the Cooper Watch, the Murph Watch has a classic stainless steel case. This case carries a nice brushed finish and is 42mm in diameter. As previously mentioned in the Cooper Watch section, 42mm is in the average range when it comes to men’s watches. This case size is most appropriate for wrists that are 6 to 7 inches in diameter. Lastly, the Murph Watch has a lug width of 22mm, basically the same as the Cooper Watch.

Dial

For those fans of the film, there’s a special easter egg on the dial, in reference to an important moment in Interstellar. We’ll get to that in a while. But first, let’s cover the basics.

The Murph Watch has a pretty neat dial design. It carries a black dial with brownish cream accents. There are also small, thin line indeces that go around the outermost part of the dial. You can also see the Arabic numerals in 5-minute intervals, but in a much smaller font compared to the hour ones. 

The Murph Watch boasts beautifully designed watch hands that are easily visible against its black background. Its hour and minute hands are thick and even bears some intricate details within it. At first glance, the second-hand looks simple with its thin silver-tone line. However, we’ve teased earlier on about an Interstellar easter egg on this watch, and it’s actually found on the second hand. 

Crystal

Similar to the Cooper Watch, the Murph Watch also has a sapphire crystal. As we’ve mentioned earlier in this article, sapphire crystal is the strongest and most scratch-resistant among the watch crystals. However, as it is not completely impervious to scratches, you’d still need to be mindful of avoiding contact with diamonds.

Strap

The Hamilton Khaki Field Murph Watch is basically a leather watch. To be precise, the strap is made of black calf leather with neat, white stitching. This strap is 20mm wide and has a pin buckle closure.  

Movement

The Murph Watch runs on the automatic H-10 calibre movement. Unlike the usual watches, this watch doesn’t get its power from batteries but through the movements your wrist makes while wearing it. It also has an amazing power reserve of 80 hours, way above the industry standard. What does having this much power reserve mean? Well, if you happen to wear your watch just on the weekdays, you can set it down and leave it over the weekend. And by Monday, you’ll find your watch still running smoothly. 

Other Features

This Interstellar watch boasts a water-resistance of 100 metres. Basically, this means that aside from the usual water exposure like rain, handwashing, and splashing, this watch can also withstand showers and swimming. It’s not a dive watch, per se, since it can only handle water pressures of 100 metres and below. Any deeper would result in damage. However, if you just plan to take a recreational swim or go scuba diving, then this watch will do just fine.

Final Thoughts 

Most of the time, moviegoers would pour their attention over the characters, locations, and plot of the film. It’s pretty rare that they would even notice some other elements. So, when a prop is given much attention in a scene, it’s almost positive that it will play a pivotal role later on. For the sci-fi movie Interstellar, this unique plot device is indeed the Interstellar watch. This special watch was placed there not just for mere aesthetics — it served a unique and important purpose in the whole film’s chronology. No wonder a lot of the movie’s avid fans want to get their hands on these epic Interstellar watches. 

 

For more watch reviews, check out our guide to the Sinn 356 Pilot Chronograph.

 

Photo credits: 1 | 2 | 3 |4 | 5| 6

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