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Brief history of the Hamilton watch company

Although the Hamilton Watch Company opened in December of 1892, they spent over a year "gearing up" without producing a watch. Their start of production was March of 1894. The only watches they produced were pocket watches, most notably their reliable railroad watches.

In 1908, they started making ladies pendant watches which were much smaller than the large pocket watches produced until then. Ladies wristwatches were introduced after World War I. They were a re styling of the pendant watches, and had cloth or ribbon straps.

Men's wristwatches were considered effeminent prior to the 1920's. Hamilton introduced their first men's "strap watch" on November 11, 1922. They had to not only market the watch, but they had to market the "idea" of a strap or wrist watch. Finally, their use in hot summers when vests were not worn, the association with the war, explorers, and rugged outdoor activities all helped the wristwatch gain acceptance. Hamilton was out in front selling the idea, and aimed much of their promotional materials at merchants--how to sell the "idea."

In the late twenties, they introduced some stylish watches like the "Cushion," "Square," and the "Tonneau." Their art deco designs of the 1930's were accompanied with the practice of naming all of the watches. Many people think the 1930's designs were the golden age of Hamilton's design and production.

World War II saw the halt of consumer production to concentrate on military watches. Following the war, they sold pre-war designs. Hamilton had introduced new designs in the early 1950's. By the mid 50's, their styling failed to capture the American public.

In 1957, they introduced the world's first electric watch--the Ventura. With a radical asymmetric design to accompany the radical technology, it became Hamilton's best ever selling gold watch. Many think that the superb manual movements of the 1930's through the 1950's, and the innovative electric watch, make Hamilton the most influential watch company of the century.


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