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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Music inspired watchesTelegraph.co.uk, July 4th
To celebrate what would have been Presley's 80th birthday, Hamilton has released the Ventura Elvis in cool rock'n'roll black brightened with flashes of orange – a comeback special of which the King would surely have approved. £1,140, Hamilton Watch...Read more
Whoa! Watch this eight month pregnant lady dancing with daughter!Daily Bhaskar (press release) (blog), July 1st
International Desk: While eight months pregnant, this mom had an epic living room dance with her daughter and the video is getting viral. In just four days, the video is seen by more than 2 crores 25 lakh people. In the video, Nikki Talor, from...Read more
What Joseph Schooling & I have in commonAsiaOne, June 29th
At 40, I didn't get a promotion but received a Hamilton watch instead from the SAF and was told to go away. I was finally done with NS. Although I'm relieved to no longer have to pass my IPPT, I sometimes miss those days because they represent a bygone...Read more
Biking part of Elgin's long historyChicago Tribune, June 26th
The Elgin Cycle Co. was related to the Illinois Watch Case Co. on Dundee Avenue. The C.H. Woodruff Co. later evolved into the Woodruff & Edwards iron foundry, in what is now Foundry Park on North State Street. The Elgin Sewing Machine & Bicycle Co...Read more
Rangers' revamped lineup backs Gallardo in win over DodgersFort Worth Star Telegram, June 15th
Yovani Gallardo allowed only four singles in seven scoreless innings Monday night against the Dodgers. | LM Otero AP. The Dodgers' Jimmy Rollins is caught stealing second base by Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus. | LM Otero AP. By Jeff Wilson...Read more
FDR's D-Day prayer is one for the agesLancasterOnline, June 5th
Lancaster countians awoke at 5 a.m. to whistles from the Hamilton Watch Co. and Armstrong Cork Co. announcing the invasion. In keeping with prearranged plans, many residents went to their churches. At Franklin & Marshall College, naval trainees...Read more
Illini, Terps show Big Ten rise no flukeLincoln Journal Star, June 4th
Watch Illinois. Watch Maryland. The Illini and Terrapins play excellent baseball. You see players with speed. Players with power. Players with a knack for the game. You see position players make difficult defensive plays look easy. You see excellent...Read more
Hamilton Watch Plays Pivotal Role In Oscar Contender 'Interstellar'Forbes, November 27th
I am the editor-in-chief and co-founder of QuillandPad.com. Beyond that, I contribute my horological expertise to a variety of magazines, websites and publications all over the world. With more than two decades' experience covering the watch industry...Read more