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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Recent News: Hamilton and Illinois Wristwatches
Source: Google News
Duval, Hamilton enjoy the journeyChampaign/Urbana News-Gazette, November 19th
The Rockets are in the playoffs for the 22nd consecutive season, all under Hamilton's watch, and Hamilton takes a 212-51 record into Saturday's game. Of the 263 games Hamilton has coached with the Rockets, 22 have come against Duval and his Spartans...Read more
Flames Continue Home Cooking With Win Over DevilsHockeybuzz.com (blog), November 18th
5) Dougie Hamilton's watch: two scoring chances, three shots, six shot attempts, two hits, 22:43 time on ice. Prior to Tuesday night Hamilton had logged below 20 minutes in 14 consecutive games so this is big. I've mentioned several times of late that...Read more
VIDEO: HAMILTON's Leslie Odom Jr. Visits LATE NIGHT & Shares Liza Minnelli is ...Broadway World, November 17th
Later, Odom discusses his favorite part of HAMILTON. Watch clips from the appearance below! From the creative team behind the Tony Award-winning In The Heights comes a wildly inventive new musical about the scrappy young immigrant who forever ...Read more
North Dakota State receiver channels Tyree, scores spectacular TDFOXSports.com, November 7th
And that's exactly what North Dakota State's Zach Vraa did in a 59-7 victory over Western Illinois. Watch it -- and then watch it again, just to appreciate the remarkable catch and the similarly remarkable effort by Vraa to stay on his feet and take it...Read more
Secret Life of the Quartz WatchGeekDad (blog), November 7th
This final piece of the puzzle fell into place with the debut in 1956/57 by the Hamilton Watch Company of the first all-electric wrist watch, the Ventura. The same company a few years later introduced the Pulsar, the first watch to feature the now...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
Then and Now: Hamilton Watch CompanyLancasterOnline, July 30th
Buy Now. KEITH SCHWEIGERT | Staff. 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...Read more