Founded in 1870, the Illinois Watch Company was primarily known for its pocket watches favored by American railroad workers. The Hamilton Watch Company arrived on the scene almost a quarter century later, but by 1900, more than half of all U.S. railroad conductors, engineers, and workers made sure their trains ran on time with the help of a Hamilton. In 1928, Illinois was purchased by Hamilton.
During the 1920s, most men’s Illinois wristwatches were sold to jewelers, who would put their own cases on them. Of the Illinois watches that were cased at the factory, models included the Square, Canby, Cushion, Champion, Special, and Atlantic.
The late 1920s were Illinois’s prime period. Instead of plain and generic names, these new models were called the Picadilly, Marquis, Ritz, New Yorker, Beau Royale, and the top-of-the-line 14-karat gold Consul, which some collectors consider the finest American wristwatch ever made. These were designed in high Art Deco, with silver pinstripe dials, tiny second hands, and cases of two-tone gold.
After the sale to Hamilton, Illinois watches from the 1930s embraced the Streamline Moderne design. Their names leaned to the preppy (Chesterfield, Wentworth, Andover, Rockliffe) and were almost identical to Hamilton watches of this era, which were named after famous explorers (Stanley, Livingstone, Byrd). These antique Hamiltons are quite collectible today precisely because their movements were made by Illinois.
Of course Hamilton has its own history of wristwatch making. It got into the field because of World War I, when it produced wristwatches for servicemen entering the military. In the 1920s it launched a line of modest, Art Deco masterpieces, with names that evoked the Americas—Piping Rock, Langley, Coronado, Spur. Many of these watches feature white-gold cases with enamel inlays.
In the 1936, Hamilton offered the twin-dial Seckron and in 1938, it introduced its own version of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso, which Hamilton called the Otis. Other collectible antique Hamiltons from the 1930s include the Mount Vernon, Andres, and Oakmont...
The 1940s were largely devoted to making wristwatches for the U.S. military—one rectangular, twin-dial steel watch from this period was even known as the Bomb Timer. Then, in the 1950s, Hamilton proceeded to make a slew of conservatively styled watches named, seemingly, after archetypal American dads—Ryan, Craig, Grover, Brent, Carlton, and Alan, to name but a few.
For Hamilton, the 1950s were only in part about tradition. In 1957, it introduced the world’s first electric watches. Designed by Richard Arbib, whose previous credits had included the fins of both World War II bombs and 1950s automobiles, these new late 1950s-1960s watches had space-age, asymmetrical shapes, with equally space-age names like Ventura, Spectra, Altair, Polaris, and Gemini.
By 1971, Hamilton had embraced the electric revolution so completely that its Pulsar would have no moving parts at all, but that would be the last gasp for the once-proud American watch maker, which was sold that year to the company that is today known as the Swatch Group.
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Matt Damon's 'Martian' Movie Watch: A Hamilton Khaki BeLOWZERO Goes to MarsForbes, September 24th
The movie is a story of subsistence, bravery and adventure—concepts that meld with Hamilton Watch—a pioneering brand in America back in the 1800s and now a Swiss brand that embarks on watchmaking quests to devise new materials and new methods ...Read more
Hamels, Beltre lead way, put hurt on MarinersFort Worth Star Telegram, September 19th
Texas Rangers' Josh Hamilton watch from the bench during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners, Saturday, September 19, 2015, at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas. Jim Cowsert Speical. Texas Rangers' Chris Gimenez (38) runs ...Read more
Betty Jane LeFever Gibson, 93, of OaktonPatch.com, September 15th
Due to her math acumen, she worked for the U.S. Navy testing chronometers at the Hamilton Watch Factory while also attending Millersville University, Penn., during World War II. She graduated from Penn State University in 1944 with a degree in...Read more
Florida Gulf Coast University art festival gives students 24 hours to attain ...Naples Daily News, September 12th
Florida Gulf Coast University students Jake Eveker, left to right, Megan Shindler, Melissa Cardenas, Nuniez Philor, and Sara Hamilton watch as FGCU alumnus Adrian Serrano drops from the floor above as the group works on the staging of a short play in a ...Read more
George Hamilton Records in the Studio With Ashley Hamilton—Watch the Stewarts ...E! Online, September 6th
Ashley Hamilton is making music again! In an exclusive preview from Sunday's new episode of Stewarts & Hamiltons, the musician returns to the studio to finish his record. Although it's an exciting moment, Ashley describes the process as "scary." "Last...Read more
The GATE's Interview Lounge at TIFF 2015 | Hamilton WatchThe GATE (blog), September 4th
Featured in over 450 films, Hamilton Watch has a long tradition on the silver screen, and will be showcasing their latest timepieces at The GATE's Interview Lounge, including the Khaki BeLOWZERO Auto 2826 in stainless steel, black PVD, which was worn...Read more
CU volleyball: Buffs vs. Illinois watch party at FATELongmont Times-Call, September 3rd
Buffs fans ready to cheer on some Top 25 volleyball action on Saturday officially have a place to congregate. FATE Brewing Company, located at the corner of 38th and Arapahoe, will host a watch party for No. 21-ranked CU's battle Saturday afternoon...Read more
Then and Now: Hamilton Watch CompanyLancasterOnline, July 30th
The former home of Hamilton Watch Company anchors the corner of Columbia Avenue and West End Avenue in Lancaster, as seen in this aerial photo taken earlier this week. Hamilton Watch Co. postcard. Buy Now. JENNIFER KOPF | Staff. A vintage ...Read more