Hamilton – Lights, camera, watches
Like all good watches, Hamilton is based in the postcard setting of Switzerland. Bienne, to be exact. That said, it wasn’t always this way. The Hamilton Watch Company began life across the pond, the fourth of a long line of watch outfits to find a home in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Not quite the Jura, but not a locale to be sniffed at either. 1892 – the year in which the Hamilton Watch Company was officially established – was the golden age of American manufacturing, and like cars, aeroplanes and pharmaceuticals, watches were seen as another emblem of solid, midwestern craftsmanship.
During its formative years, the group also enveloped the Aurora Watch Company, another label based in Illinois. From the off, Hamilton was set to be a sizeable offering, and took its name from Andrew Hamilton, a Scottish lawyer that founded the good town of Lancaster. That’s the heritage box ticked off, then.
As America began to develop its rail networks, Hamilton reaped the benefits, maintaining over 56% of the watch market as workers and execs enjoyed Hamilton fare in equal measure. By producing pieces that specifically catered to the railroad, the label found its niche, and was able to acquire the Illinois Watch Company for a figure totalling $5 million to build Hamilton further as a serious horological contender.
Then, as appetites switched from pocket watches to wristwatches, the label changed tack again – and its fortunes were just as handsome. During the second World War, Hamilton redesigned several models to suit military needs, and sidelined watches for the everyman altogether. The war effort, and all that.
Since then, Hamilton became a respected brand in its own right, the label offered sheer practicality from its production complex in Lancaster. From its very first pocket watch – a 17-jewel beauty produced in 1893 – Hamilton branched out into several leading families including the Rectangular, the Oval, and the Coronado.
But it seemed the American Dream wasn’t so steady. Prior to the iconic release of Elvis Presley’s preferred watch, the Ventura, Hamilton was already under attack from a hostile takeover by Benrus – a Romanian-American watch company. Fast forward to the next decade, and the brand had acquiesced to the Buren Watch Company of Switzerland, before then switching to SSIH that later became known as Swatch Group. Hamilton’s days as a great American manufacturer were over.
It’s links stateside however, were not. Hamilton had always dipped a toe into Tinseltown, appearing in flicks as early as 1951. It wasn’t till the turn of the century however, when Hamilton really amped up the cameos, with various models seen in The Talented Mr Ripley, Men In Black, Ocean’s 11 and the Spiderman series to name but four. Fast forward a few more years, and Hamilton’s clocked up a filmography that would even cast a shadow on De Niro himself: 239 movies across 65 years in the industry.
Hamilton American Classic
The Hamilton American Classic very much lives up to the name. Harking back to the label’s midwestern railroad roots, this noted piece is available in multiple styles that all channel stateside appeal for both men and women. That’s where the star-spangled mechanics end, though. Crack the American Classic open, and it’s Swiss precision to the very last cog.
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Inspired by the Big Apple itself, Hamilton’s Broadway collection encapsulates everything good and great about the namesake neighbourhood: it’s robust, versatile and unashamedly American in design. Factor in the three different designs – classic, sporty and casual – and you’re left with a line that deserves it’s own chorus. Encore, indeed.
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If jazz is considered a genre for the musical maestros, consider the Jazzmaster the perfect accompaniment. Finely-tuned and technically impeccable, this classic collection is a high note in modern horology – and that’s just how it looks. The Jazzmaster, like all things Hamilton, is a harmonious masterpiece on the inside, too.
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Hamilton Pan Europ
Though Hamilton proudly champions stateside design, turns out it does European finesse just as well. The Pan Europ takes the brand’s signature transatlantic, embedding a bold aesthetic within classic Italian racing watches. Granted, you may never see the inside of a cockpit, but that doesn’t mean you can’t dress the part thanks to Hamilton.
Never forget your roots: an adage Hamilton knows all too well. The Railroad collection, arguably the watch that shot the brand to fame in 1892, is just as exemplary in the 21st century. Though thanks to increased precision, improved craftsmanship and a design fit for the modern day, the Railroad is even better this time round.
If you thought Hamilton was all stateside modernity and bold statements, think again. The Hamilton Timeless collection gives the horological greats a run for their money, imbuing exemplary mechanics within a design that’ll look just as good in this century as it will the next.