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The Hamilton Pan-Europ Auto

Hamilton introduced the modern incarnation of its famous Pan-Europ fake watch at the 2011 Baselworld fair. It was a design based on an original, which debuted in 1971, and it's done well enough to merit the release of a less-complicated variant, which we saw at last year's Basel. It's still got the retro good looks and practical price point, but does it capture the charm of the original from the '70s? We spent a week with the Pan-Europ Auto to find out.


The Pan-Europ label dates back to the early '60s, first appearing on Hamilton dress replica watches and eventually sports replica watches (including a ladies' diver) on up to and through the mid '70s. Of course, Hamilton itself dates all the back to the late 19th century, and has a rich heritage of creating tool replica watches throughout the 20th. The Pan-Europ 703 of 1971 carries with it the distinction of housing the famous caliber 11, among the first automatic chronograph movements brought to market thanks to a partnership with Breitling, Heuer, and Buren (the others coming out of Zenith and Seiko). The Pan-Europ Chronomatic was Hamilton's bid in a competitive field of sports chronographs that ultimately brought us replica watches like the Monaco and Autavia, El Primero, and the Seiko 6139.

It is in this vein that the original Pan-Europ 701 as well as Pan-Europ 704 took root within Hamilton's expanded line, post-Swatch Group acquisition in 1971. Hamilton, not content with conventional case designs, seemed intent on exploring the limits of cushion cases. The rotund cases gained the nickname of "Fedora?thanks to their volume and depth, sharing a profile with the often maligned hat. The cushion case is a feature we've seen make a rampant return to market in recent years with the rise in popularity of re-releases and re-issues of all kinds.

ADVERTISEMENT The Modern Pan-Europ

The newest iteration of the Pan-Europ is a faithful rendition of the original first seen in the early '70s ?at a glance, that is. The case-to-bezel ratio, the notch-y hour markers, and thick-cut cushion case are all present, and lend to the retro personality of the new Pan-Europ, but upon closer inspection, a few details emerge that place this firmly in modern territory. In many ways this is a good thing, providing value, practicality, and build quality that you may find suspiciously absent in many 40-year-old-plus watches. In a few ways, these modern details disappoint, but are they enough to overcome the value proposition?

Let's take a closer look at the details that we think Hamilton got right with the new Pan-Europ. The most prominent feature of this fake watch is its case. The soft fusion shape is accentuated by a polished lip separating the brushed wall and lug shoulders. It cuts the contrast between the two surfaces and serves to give a more rounded appearance to the case overall. At 42 mm, the Pan-Europ Auto falls into the large-but-wearable crowd, and thanks to the sloped lugs wears a touch smaller than its size would suggest.

The bezel extends right out to the edge of the case with a notched and polished lip that protrudes beyond the bezel ring. While the notches do provide some grip, the polishing of that lip make rotating the bezel a challenge. The bezel ring itself is thin in profile, adding to that retro personality meant to invoke its heritage. A large white chapter ring angles towards the dial, with notches cut out for the applied hour indices. Additional markings on the chapter ring allow reading down to every 5th of a second, with the markers between 12 and 3 o'clock appearing in red.

The dial itself features a sunburst texture emanating from the center. This means the dial catches light from many different angles, resulting in viewing situations that range from optimal to near impossible. It's a nice touch, and looks good up close, but the grey dialed variant of our tester likely presented more problems than the optional blue dial. Unlike the original Pan-Europ watches, the modern take has moved to thinner, more delicate hour and minute hands. They are nicely designed hands, and feature a healthy amount of lume along their length, but we'd prefer a set of chunkier hands more akin to the original.

The dial is signed with "Hamilon Automatic?at 12 o'clock, and "Pan-Europ?at 6 o'clock. It's all the info we need and it's presented in a clean fashion, though our preference would be the old-school "H?as we've seen on the modern Intra-Matic. One of the larger departures from the original is the day and date placement at 3 o'clock. Original variants simply feature a small date aperture at 6 o'clock as to remain symmetrical. We suspect this was done in order to make use of a day-of-the-week window, as well to give a nod to practicality. While legibility of the day and date is optimal, we can't help but pine for a single date window at the bottom of the dial.


The new Pan-Europ Auto wears comfortably thanks to its reasonable dimensions and the two amazing straps that come with the watch. Out of the box, the Pan-Europ sports a thick, black leather strap with three holes cut out of it on either side. The walls of the cuts are painted red, and add a sporty touch to the overall look of the fake watch as worn, but the real reason we love it is its supple flexibility and soft texture on the wrist. There is no break-in period required with this strap ?it'll be ready for all-day duty straight away. The large recesses from the holes mean a weight savings as well, so there is no bulkiness present.

The second strap is a woven NATO tricolor option with leather reinforced holes, and a metal link at the free end to prevent wear. The keepers are brushed and squared away, and feel miles nicer than what you'd find on your average NATO strap (barring those offered in the HODINKEE Shop). The fabric itself is very soft and again, feels already broken in. Either option is exceptionally comfortable; I forgot the fake watch was on my wrist on multiple occasions.

My biggest gripe with the straps was changing between them. While Hamilton provides a strap changing tool as part of the package, the spring bars are curved to the shape of the case, and are not easily removed and replaced. because of this (and the metal end), the NATO strap cannot simply be inserted between already in-place lug bars. The bars must be removed, the NATO put into place, and the spring bars put back into place. The NATO it comes with is very comfortable, but part of the appeal of the NATO is easy interchangeability, and this case and spring bar design defeat that benefit.

The case is sized appropriately enough for most wrists, especially against the average modern sport watch. The original "Fedora?cases featured a more tapered case, coming to a thinner profile further out on the wrist. I'm not sure if I'd prefer that treatment with the modern Pan-Europ, as it might gain a millimeter on either side, but it's worth noting that Hamilton moved away from such a design to create a broader appeal for the watch.

As mentioned, the grey dial did present some problems with legibility. The combination of thin hands with a textured dial and no contrasting numerals of any kind can make getting a read on the time more work than you're accustomed to. I think a thicker set of hands would do the trick, but since that isn't an option here, be sure to take a look at the blue dial if you're considering purchasing a new Pan-Europ.

ADVERTISEMENT A Familiar (But Different) Movement

Inside the new Hamilton Pan-Europ beats the H 30 automatic with day/date complication, not entirely unlike what you'd find in ETA's 2824. It's not exotic by any stretch, but it is unique to Hamilton and is visible through a rear exhibition sapphire. It has been developed with ETA (also owned by Swatch Group), and differs from your average 2824 in that it features a more refined kinematic chain from the barrel to the escapement, as well as a suppressed escarpment regulator giving way to greater precision and reliability. The mainspring has also been improved to increase power reserve to 80 hours.

Winding is smooth and efficient through the "H?signed crown. The seconds hand does hack with a pull of the crown, allowing for precise time setting and keeping. Pulling the crown to its first stop allows for quick changes to the day and date, clockwise for the date and counter for the day. Surprisingly, the crown does not screw in, and will wind flush with the case. This makes it convenient for day-to-day wear, but not so much for deep water activity.


The Hamilton Pan-Europ's biggest strength is perhaps its starting price point, which is $1,095. For that you'll just get the fabric NATO strap, but it still represents a great value, even in a crowded segment. You're unlikely to find a unique movement, relatively high build quality, and honest heritage in this price range, but here are a couple of other tempting options.

Tissot Heritage PR 516

You'll need just about $800 to get into this Tissot, and it offers much of the retro personality you'll find in the Hamilton. It has the automatic movement, vintage-inspired design with the heritage to back it up (including chunky hands). It has day and date complications at 3 o'clock as well as well a retro steel bracelet. I cannot vouch for the build quality, but for $800 it should at least meet expectations. The Hamilton will provide a better movement, and likely a more robust case for the extra money. Check out the Tissot right here.

Image from Halios

Halios Tropik SS

Halios may not be a mainstream brand like Hamilton, but they offer well built, original sport replica watches at prices under $1,000. The Tropik SS features a cushion(ish) case, classic design cues, a 41 mm steel case, and a date placement at 6 o'clock on the dial. It does house a Japan-made Miyota 9015 automatic movement, but the price starts at just $720. For that you'll get a true sport watch, and will stand out in a crowd of more common watches. Learn more about this Halios right here.


The modern Hamilton Pan-Europ Auto brings a proven design into a modern marketplace with contemporary amenities and quality. Is it a perfect re-issue of the original? Nope. But taken on its own merits, outside the context of its heritage, the Pan-Europ is a well built, handsome sport fake watch that will look and feel great on the wrist. The straps and case design are impeccable, and when coupled with the ETA/Hamilton movement, make this fake watch a true standout in the $1,000 segment.

The Pan-Europ Auto is currently available at authorized retailers or through their very own online shop. Learn more about the fake watch right here.

Hamilton A-week-on-the-wrist