The Hamilton Watch Company isn’t just your regular watch brand.
While other watch companies currently fight over which athletes and celebrities to represent their brand, Hamilton watches are being used in Hollywood blockbusters – big-budget, mainstream movies.
We could say it all started with Elvis Presley wearing a Hamilton Ventura in the movie, Blue Hawaii.
And it was all downhill from there, as they say.
Global hits like Interstellar and A Good Day To Die Hard, as well as more recent winners such as Men In Black 3, have used the Hamilton brand, too.
And it’s not just the movies themselves, it’s also the actors, actresses, and even the movie producers themselves.
Hamilton’s reputation has far exceeded most of the other watch brands in the world.
But it wasn’t a quick rise to the top.
If you were to make a guess, you would say that Hamilton watches are American because of the way they’re used in the movies, as previously mentioned.
You would be half-right.
Their logo says “American Spirit, Swiss Precision” so there would be an American element, for sure.
However, the Hamilton Watch Company is actually a Swiss company.
Its current main headquarters are located in Bienne, Switzerland.
It would not be a surprise if people actually think that Hamilton is American because from 1892 until 1969, it was technically still a US brand.
The Hamilton Watch Company was birthed in 1892 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA.
It was actually formed because it had acquired Keystone Standard Watch Company which had gone bankrupt.
Its initial location was in a compound 13 acres in size, but it had bigger things in mind.
Soon after, that very same year, it acquired the Aurora Watch Company of Illinois through a merger.
The name Hamilton wasn’t the original choice for the company name.
It was supposed to be called “Columbian” but another watch company, Waterbury, already had a trademark for that name so the stockholders of the company needed to get together as soon as they can to find a name – they need to do this before anything else can be done.
Andrew Hamilton, a lawyer from Scotland who founded Lancaster, was the previous owner of the area where the watch company was going to be established.
So to stay true to their roots, they named the company after his son, James Hamilton. And the rest is history.
Original Aurora Watch Factory
Hamilton’s initial target was not the common people.
They were in fact, the railroads. Yup, the ones that carry the trains.
An interesting thing to note is the first Hamilton watches were not wristwatches but rather pocket watches.
Hamilton had a monopoly on the railroad watch industry as they held 56% of the market at that time.
Oh, and all of Hamilton’s watches were purchased by the railroads.
Yes, you read that right, ALL.
Meaning that every time a Hamilton watch came out, it was already sold. How’s that for cornering the market?
The reason for this is because Hamilton watches were very well known for their accuracy (important for coordinating cargo and promptness) and durability (this would be self-explanatory for the type of work the watch needs to undergo).
Hamilton RailRoad Watch, Model 992
During the first fifteen years, Hamilton manufactured movements in only two sizes – the 16- and the 18-size.
In fact, the very first watch to carry the name Hamilton was an 18-size pocket watch that had 17 jewels – it was released in 1893.
Because of the popularity of the Hamilton pocket watches, the company decided to create a whole line of pocket watches called the Broadway Limited.
It was famously known as “The Watch of Railroad Accuracy” and the fame immediately spread as Hamilton became known as the watch that made the perfect railroad watches.
Early Hamilton Watch Ad “The Railroad Timekeeper of America”
Next Stop, Hamilton Wristwatches
Eventually, Hamilton had to expand the market.
They got a huge break when they won a contract with the US Armed Forces to supply the servicemen with field watches.
So began the rise of the Hamilton wristwatch.
It also marked a significant move from the focus of the company from the pocket watches of the old times to the current need for wristwatches.
The first wristwatch to come from Hamilton came in 1917 and was specifically constructed to appeal to the outgoing servicemen who were about to enter World War I.
Interestingly enough, the design was taken from the pendant watches for women.
It was 983 movement 0-size 17-jewel movement symbol of accuracy and durability – the perfect combination for the armed forces.
A modern version of the Hamilton Khaki Field watch
Hamilton Aviation Watches
In 1918, Hamilton watches reached new heights, both figuratively and literally.
That was the year the Hamilton watches began getting involved in the aviation gear conversation.
Here are a few of their high-flying (pun intended) pioneering exploits:
– The first American airmail delivery traveled from Washington to New York and a Hamilton aeronautical watch was the official timekeeper.
– Admiral Richard R. Byrd was wearing a Hamilton watch when he became the first aviator to reach the North Pole. He celebrated the milestone by basically doing “air donuts” for 13 minutes before going back to his airbase.
– During the first east-to-west coast flight service, the official timekeeper was Hamilton.
– In 1927, the first flight from California to Hawaii was an overwhelming success. The pilots of the aircraft were wearing precision Hamilton watches during the whole journey. Accuracy was very critical during this trip as a few degrees of inconsistency in the readings meant the pilots would miss the islands altogether.
From that time on, Hamilton watches became known for their precise and accurate movements.
In fact, by the 1930s, four major US commercial airline companies had Hamilton as their official timepiece.
Hamilton Watch used in 2001 Space Odyssey
The next step in the Hamilton evolution was in 1932.
A movie entitled, Shanghai Express, featured not one, but two Hamilton watches – a Flintridge and a Boulton.
Famous Hamilton Boulton Quartz
The movie featured the usefulness of the watches and this was Hamilton’s first dip into the movie industry.
Another movie that further catapulted Hamilton watches into the stratosphere was The Frogmen.
It released in 1951 and showed new military Hamilton designs.
It also showed how Hamilton military watches were very efficient and useful in the field.
To add icing on the cake, The Frogmen got nomination nods for two Oscars and further expanded Hamilton’s influence in the movie world.
To be fair, other watches have been onscreen before.
Hamilton watches have played a key role in the role of watches in the movies.
Hamilton Jazzmaster Gent Quartz H32411555 Worn by Liam Neeson in The Commuter
Hamilton Electrical Watches
If it seems like Hamilton’s visionary ideas never stop, here’s one more. Richard Arbib, a very famous industrial designer, was tasked by Hamilton to do something never been done before – create the world’s first electrical battery-operated watch.
And in 1957, Hamilton released the Ventura.
It looked like nothing anyone has seen before.
It seemed like it was brought from the future.
It even had a triangle-shaped body. It was a smash hit, to say the least.
Hamilton Ventura Elvis80
The King himself, Elvis Presley, had a hand in making the Ventura a household name.
The superstar rock-and-roll icon featured the Ventura watch in his musical “Blue Hawaii”.
The watch was actually picked for the movie because it matched the personality of the legendary artist.
The Ventura, however, wasn’t the last one.
Richard Arbib continued to improve and enhance his designs and inventions; and, of course, Hamilton was there to manufacture and produce it.
The uniqueness of Arbib’s designs is that they all had asymmetric designs.
The Altair was one that Hamilton produced on a limited basis.
The company only made 1,600 pieces of the model and therefore making it almost a sense of pride for anyone who owns an Altair.
You may have a few chances to own an Altair as there are a few on sale on eBay.
The famous producer/director Stanley Kubrick asked Hamilton to design a line of watches for his upcoming futuristic movie, “2001: A Space Odyssey”.
The design team of Hamilton took on the challenge and produced the watches that would ultimately become almost synonymous with the classic movie.
Not long after, Hamilton produced another first in the world of watches – the Pulsar, the world’s first digital electronic watch.
To make it more appealing, Hamilton only made 400 of these so the public was fighting over who gets to own one.
The Pulsars were sold for $2,100 per piece.
If that doesn’t sound too expensive to you, note that this price was higher than the price of most cars at that time.
Now that’s a collector’s item.
Unfortunately, the Pulsar lost some of its glamour and can now be bought on eBay at a much lesser price.
Hamilton Ladies Boulton
A new era in the global watch industry was entered on May 16, 1974.
The Swatch Group, which was known as SSIH at the time, acquired Hamilton watches.
Initially, Hamilton stayed in the mainland USA and still was known as creating high-quality precision timekeepers.
In the 1980s, after many years of pioneering and creating “out of the box” designs, Hamilton went back to producing classic watches.
It went throwback time and reminded the people of their designs from the 1920s through the 1960s.
Among those that were resurrected were the Wilshire, Ardmore, Boulton, and of course, with the Ventura leading the pack.
The 1990s was a golden decade for Hamilton watches in the cinema business.
Major characters from major movies like Lethal Weapon 4, Independence Day, Men In Black, Die Hard, The Talented Mr. Ripley, and a few other blockbusters wore Hamilton watches.
It was a time when wearing a Hamilton watch on your wrist made you feel like you are also a celebrity.
The Hamilton headquarters and manufacturing plant moved to Biel, Switzerland.
This made it possible for Hamilton to put a label on all their newly produced watches as “Swiss Made”.
This was to make sure it was on the right side of the Swiss 60% Rule.
Hamilton resumed its groundbreaking watch designs by producing the personalized automatic calibers, H-21 and H-31.
Hamilton Caliber H-31
This was soon followed a few years later by the H-10, H-30, and the latest, the H-40.
The latest models all boast of excellent power, even up to 80 hours in reserve.
Hamilton Khaki BelowZero
Recent Movie Exploits
Hamilton didn’t exactly get away from the big screen experiences.
Another futuristic movie, Interstellar, was released in 2014 and the main character was wearing, what else, a Hamilton.
In 2015, just the following year, yet another fictional space movie directed by world-renowned director Ridley Scott, The Martian, featured a Hamilton on the wrist of the lead actor.
More specifically, the Khaki BelowZero.
The movie specifically chose the watch for the actor as it portrayed the courage and commitment of the main character, much like Hamilton itself.
One more: the Khaki X-Wind was a partner in the fictional exploits of the lead character in the science fiction smash hit, Independence Day: Resurgence.
Men’s Khaki X Wind Watch
Hamilton celebrated the 60th Anniversary of the classic Ventura watch in 2017 – the Ventura was one of the main reasons that catapulted Hamilton to the elite level of watches.
That’s what happens when Elvis Presley endorses a product.
It was a big year for Hamilton as it also became the official timepiece of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship.
This competition features the world’s best and most daring aerobatic pilots.
It is both dangerous and exhilarating as they do their thing through eight different countries.
The very next year, in 2018, Hamilton also celebrated its 100th year of providing precise and accurate aviation measurements and logistics.
In fact, if you ask any avid aviator or professional flyer, the only choice they need to make when it comes to watches is choosing what color to pick for the Hamilton model they’re using.
Hamilton Classic Pan Europ With H-30 automatic movement
Where Do They Make Hamilton Watches?
As mentioned before, Hamilton was producing its watches from its original home base in America from 1893 to 1969.
After a series of company purchases and mergers, Hamilton became a part of the biggest watch group in the world, eventually to be formally named The Swatch Group.
The conglomerate also owns such high-end watches as Omega, Longines, Blancpain, Glashütte Orginal, and Breguet.
Some of Hamilton’s parts and components are actually made in the Swatch Group factories located in Asia, most probably China or Thailand.
Although Hamilton still meets the 60% Rule for Swiss watches.
Hamilton may never beat Omega in the finish and the overall quality but make no mistake, Hamilton watches are still top of the line.
Watch Industry Reputation
Although a very dependable and fashionable watch, Hamilton’s brand is still widely considered to be a medium-priced line.
It is one of the better watches that sport the “Swiss-made” guarantee with many of the models in their lineup can be bought for less than $500.
Hamilton’s history and forward designs have made it a very respected brand in the world of watches.
It evokes memories by perfecting the classic watches from the 20s until the 40s, at the time when American movements were still a strong contender for best in the world.
Although not considered a royalty brand, it’s not even called a premium watch by most, Hamilton gets rave reviews because it combines amazing precision with some cool designs for both traditional and new-gen customers.
Plus now that it’s supported by The Swatch Group, Hamilton now also has the Swiss ETA automatic movements in its arsenal.
Although Hamilton watches don’t appreciate in value like an Omega or a Rolex, no one would argue that the brand is still manufacturing high-quality products that have the respect of the global watch industry.
To prove a point, Hamilton was in the prestigious list of the 10 Swiss watches that are setting the standards in the watch industry.
Not a bad group.
Hamilton watches also have a reputation for being a great mid-range watch for dresses or for casual events.
Hamilton watches are as versatile as they come.
How is the Quality today?
Khaki Field Day Date Automatic Men’s Watch worn by John Krasinski in Jack Ryan
Whether you ask a former serviceman in the 1940s, a professional airline pilot, a hardcore watch aficionado, or even if you just read through the forums that discuss the best watches, there are 99% good reports and reviews.
The Hamilton Khaki King is on the list of the best pilot watches under $500.
Meanwhile, the original Hamilton Khaki is still one of the top field watches at its price level.
Even though it would be unfair to compare a Hamilton to a high premium watch like Rolex, for example. There are those who say that the quality is almost equal and the difference is negligible.
For the price scale that Hamilton watches are in ($250-$500), they are one of the top, if not the ultimate, watches that you can get.
When you take into consideration the movement, the advance thinking design, and the durability, Hamilton watches are right up there.
Not a few people would even consider Hamilton watches as undervalued for its quality.
The iconic Hamilton Khaki watch
Hamilton International Warranty
When you purchase a Hamilton watch, it automatically comes with a two-year limited warranty.
The warranty document must be authenticated and stamped by an authorized Hamilton store or dealer.
If not stamped, it is without value.
The warranty includes repairs and replacement of parts if found that they are caused by factory defects.
With the worst-case scenario being the company replacing your watch with an identical or a similarly-priced Hamilton model.
However, there are certain conditions to the limited warranty:
– battery life;
– any damage due to abusive use (dents, scratches), accidents, negligence by the purchaser, using the watch for another purpose other than the intended use, and non-observance of the Hamilton manual that was included in the purchase;
– regular wear and tear of the watch (change of strap color, deteriorating straps);
– if the watch was serviced by anyone other than an authorized and licensed Hamilton service person (i.e. to replace the battery or any small defects)/
Pilot Day Date Automatic Black Dial Men’s Watch worn by Matthew Mcconaughey in Interstellar
Where Can I Buy Hamilton Watches?
You can look for great deals on online stores such as Amazon who carry hundreds of Hamilton models, usually for less than the manufacturer direct.
Jomashop.com is our favorite place to shop for watches because they ship worldwide and have the best prices! They also have the best selections.
If you are more of an “I need to really feel it” kind of person, then you need to find the closest store or service center that carries the Hamilton brand.
Macy’s carries some but your best selection will be online and most online retailers offer free returns.
If you want to get a watch that has been proven to be accurate, durable, and overall cool, then finding the right Hamilton watch is what you need to do.
Tested by time and proven by the harshest and most critical of critics, you can’t make a wrong choice.
Hamilton watches start from around $300.
The higher and more popular models could go to as high as $6,000.
Whatever your budget is, there will be a perfect Hamilton watch waiting for you.
Hamilton watches has one of the most diverse and colorful lines of watches in the world.
All you need to do is start browsing through the models and you’ll definitely find one that you can say was definitely designed specifically for you.
In conclusion, click here to watch this video and see why Hamilton is a top brand!