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
Motor racing-The head says Hamilton but watch out for the FinnsDaily Mail, July 22nd
BUDAPEST, July 22 (Reuters) - The head says Lewis Hamilton but those willing to take a more adventurous punt might fancy the chances of Valtteri Bottas or Kimi Raikkonen as Formula One regroups in Hungary with a heavy heart this weekend. Hamilton ...Read more
10 cool things to do in the Chicago-area with your kids that are freeChicagoNow (blog), July 21st
Watch trains pass day and night at one of the busiest train intersections in Illinois. Watch them free. There is also a viewing area in Homewood and Park Forest. http://www.rochellerailroadpark.org/index.php; Nature Centers. Search for nature centers...Read more
Man in Canada admitted to stealing much of local author's book 'Chickenhawk'Ocala, July 18th
Mason's grandparents had given him a Hamilton wristwatch, not a Gruen. The attack was real, but nothing went black. The bullets stopped after a gunship took out the source of the tracers. Mason survived to write a memoir about his time as a helicopter...Read more
Sikorski's Attic 7/19/15: Hamilton wristwatch is beloved family heirloomCitrus County Chronicle, July 17th
Dear John: I enjoy your weekly articles in the Citrus County Chronicle and also your radio show on Saturday. Some time ago, you helped me by providing some interesting history on our family electric mantle clock, circa 1938...Read more
The King gets a new watchWorld Tempus, July 6th
The history of Hamilton Watch and Elvis Presley goes all the way back to 1961, when the King of Rock'n'Roll wore the ground-breaking Ventura in the movie “Blue Hawaii.” Elvis wore his own Ventura throughout his life and the Ventura became known as “the ...Read more
Grant: Nothing goes right for Rangers vs. lefties; Angels trounce Texas 13-0Dallas Morning News, July 4th
Texas Rangers players and their families, including outfielder Josh Hamilton, watch the post game Fourth of July fireworks show at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Saturday, July 4, 2015. The Rangers played and lost earlier to his former team the Los...Read more
Music inspired watchesTelegraph.co.uk, July 4th
When Elvis Presley was given a Hamilton Ventura watch to wear in his 1961 film Blue Hawaii, he couldn't help falling in love with the avant-garde triangular timepiece – so shook up was he that he took to wearing it constantly off the set, too. To...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