by Contributing Writer, Andrew Cara
According to Hamilton Stories 2, a magazine-like catalogue full of current Hamilton achievements (which you can get at any AD along with the first edition), The Murph was commissioned by Interstellar’s director Christopher Nolan and production designer Nathan Crowley. They wanted to create the perfect prop that would reflect the movie’s concept of time travel and space exploration. The one-off for the movie was given to the character Murph Cooper (played by Mackenzie Foy) by her father Coop (played by Mathew McConaughey) before he takes off to discover other livable planets for the human race to occupy in response to Earth’s depleting air supply.
The piece is not just a parting gift, but a promise that Copper will return, and to see if there are any fluctuations in time while he is away. Without giving too much away, Cooper finds himself on a planet where one hour equals 7 years on earth (or 2,555 days). As an extension of the movie plot, the limited-edition Tesseract box is also a plot device which is used by Cooper to communicate with Murph within time and space.
How did he communicate, you may ask? If you haven’t seen the movie it may not be obvious but it makes complete sense when you look at the unique feature of the Murph. Cooper uses the Tesseract to project messages in Morse code onto the seconds hand of the watch he gave Murph. As you read on, you will see a lot of recurring themes and cues from the movie that are cleverly reflected in the Murph’s design; some are obvious, and some are subtle, but all make this Hammy unique!
The Murph isn’t much different than Hamilton’s run-of-the-mill Khaki Auto featuring the same 42mm brushed case, H-10 movement, and signed crown. The case measures 42mm in diameter with 22mm lug width, 52mm lug tip to lug distance, and 12mm thickness. This is the quintessential modern Khaki in both the 42mm and 38mm automatics.
The movement is also the same standard H-10 found in many pieces produced by Hamilton. The modified ETA 2824-2 boasts an 80-hour power reserve but is modified to remove the date function (which means no ghost date change click at midnight). This entire package is topped with the same 10-bar pressure rating and signed non-screw-down crown. Hamilton didn’t need to make the piece completely from scratch, with any special specs to differentiate it from the rest of their product lineup.
Within the watch community there has been quite a stir about how large the Murph fits on-wrist. On my 7.5” wrist, the piece fits extremely comfortably; the slim, light case with its curved lugs hug my wrist exceptionally well. I will say this though, for the ladies and gents with smaller wrists, I could see how the Murph would wear large. This is a gap in the watch market that brands are slowly realizing that they need to fill, and both the Khaki Auto 38mm and the manual wind “Hack Watch” help fill that void. A 38mm Murph would have been a nice addition to that smaller lineup of pieces, really bringing forward the piece’s sporty vintage aesthetics.
Dial, Bezel, & Hands
The Murph shares many design characteristics with the Khaki Field Pioneer Auto (H60515533) in regard to its colouring, hands, and dial layout. Each piece has its own place in Hamilton’s catalogue, with no overlap due to their many differences.
The dial on the Murph is glossy black with toasty fauxtina C3 Super-LumiNova luminescent numeral markers that sometimes make the dial appear deep chocolate brown. Along with the dial’s vintage flair, the Murph’s dial acts like a mirror, which is fantastic for flecto shots, but can be difficult for regular wrist shots.
The bezel is the same polished bezel you would see on your standard Khaki Auto, but the handset throws conventionality out the window. Using traditional matte steel cathedral (or as Hamilton calls them, pilot-style) hands, and the same lume application as the numerals, the hour and minute hands have an elaborately romantic charm that is absent in any other piece Hamilton produces.
Contrasting back to the Khaki Field Pioneer Auto, the Murph is an amalgamation between a field watch, pilot’s watch, and a larger dress watch, depending on your strap choices and preferences. On the OEM croco-calf strap, there is definitely a vintage pilot vibe, whereas on a rubber or NATO strap, Murph’s field watch DNA shines to the forefront. The refined dial and slim case could also be paired with a bracelet or leather strap to take a dressier approach as well; there really isn’t much the Murph can’t do.
One of the piece’s key features and biggest deviance from the original movie prop is the Morse code on the seconds hand. As a key player in the plot of Interstellar, it was a given that there had to be Morse code on the seconds hand. It was appropriately chosen that the word eureka would be used to symbolize a key moment in the movie.
There were many messages transmitted to Murph by Cooper in the movie but the production design team, in conjunction with Hamilton, chose the most significant word in the entire film; EUREKA! It’s a subtle nod to the movie as the lacquered code can’t really be seen in most lighting with the naked eye, but of course the watch nuts among us will either have a loupe or hold the piece close enough to their faces to be able to see it. It’s a quirky little detail that brings out the obsession with details in watch enthusiasts. Little details like these make or break a watch. If executed incorrectly, a design team can really kill a piece especially if it’s a piece watch fans have been clamouring for.
What Hamilton has done with the Murph’s packaging is very interesting in many senses of the word. The Tesseract box was only made in 2,555 examples to reflect the time anomaly Cooper experienced while in the fifth dimension, where he found and learned to use the Tesseract to communicate with his daughter. As mentioned before, one hour for Cooper was seven years for Murph; in seven years there are 2,555 days which is not a coincidence for why there is this specific number of boxes globally.
Each box is uniquely handcrafted, presenting a different pattern of colours fused together for a beautiful display of random repetition. A common misconception about the Murph is that it’s limited to 2,555 pieces, which is not so. The Tesseract box itself is a limited edition, however; the Murph is a standard production model that now comes in customary Khaki packaging.
Watch enthusiasts gush over how a dial or handset plays with light, but this may be the first time ever that someone says the same thing about a watch box. The sandwiched plexi is semi-transparent, lighting up the box in a vibrant display of colour, making the packaging just as interesting as what sits inside. With the use of plexi, the box is quite hefty for its size, but it is ultimately a display piece, whether you set the Murph inside or not.
The factory strap that comes with the Murph is difficult to break in. The stiffness of this croco-calf strap is not even comparable to the other fantastic straps Hamilton makes. It has a slim profile with padding near the case but needs to be broken in before it can conform to your wrist. This may just be personal preference, but I wish Hamilton made the strap to be more supple to make it wearable from day one. I haven’t worn the strap much because the summers in Toronto get too humid to wear a leather strap, so once leather weather rolls around, this opinion may change.
I question why they did not use lume instead of lacquer? It’s a conservative piece, but the significance and ties to a science fiction movie are too great to not add that extra bit of flair in dim and dark situations.
Like the rest of the Khaki Field line, the Murph lacks a screw-down crown. The fact is that the case is tested to 10 bar (or 100m), but it brings some hesitation when water is involved. The Murph can do almost anything except take a plunge in the ocean or lake without having second thoughts about water intrusion. I’d be comfortable taking a casual swim in a pool or at the beach, but not in unpredictable situations like a wavy beach or lake where the crown could accidentally pop open. The Murph would be a much more versatile watch with a screw-down crown.
The Murph’s ties to Hollywood and science fiction (which may be closer to reality than we’d like to think in Interstellar) emphasize the fact that this Khaki Field Auto has a lot of vintage military flair. Many of us consider that to be sporty or dressy depending on what strap you put on it that morning (or swap into throughout the day).
Although the Murph is very much its own piece, Hamilton did well fusing their DNA with what Christopher Nolan and Nathan Crowley had dreamed about designing for their blockbuster. In conjunction with its design, the Murph’s versatility allows it to fit most situations. Even though a lot of the military field watch markings can be found on other Khaki Field models, they are omitted from the Murph. It is still a well-balanced field watch that can be played off to be dressier than its more utilitarian siblings. I’d highly recommend the Murph to anyone looking for a vintage-inspired automatic field watch with ties to Hollywood and simple enough for everyday use.
Hamilton Murph Specs
More Images of the Hamilton Murph
Check out the Hamilton website