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The Swiss brand of Hamilton that strongly oozes American legacy, provides very appealing wristwear for all kinds of tastes. Often compared to highly reputable watchmakers, the brand seems to precisely possess the standard that a sophisticated watch buyer would expect.
But to what extent are Hamilton watches good? Do they suit for anyone, or just to those with average expectations? The following Hamilton watches review examines various aspects to find the truth.
We’ll also cover the collections Hamilton has available, and peek into some of the best-selling Hamilton watches.
- Hamilton Watch History
- Where Are Hamilton Watches Made?
- Hamilton Watches Quality & Movements
- Hamilton Watch Reputation
- How Much Do Hamilton Watches Cost?
- Are Hamilton Watches Any Good?
- Hamilton Watch Collections Reviewed
- Hamilton Watches Warranty Policy
- Conclusion: Hamilton Watches Review
In the following paragraphs, we’ll dive into the analysis of Hamilton watches review.
For those, who prefer a quick glance instead, we’ve conducted an easily readable overview of the study in the following infographic. Not everything is possible to showcase in an image, so make sure to keep reading if you’re interested in thorough research.
Hamilton Watch History
The Hamilton Watch Company was established in 1892 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The first years in the business brought instant success when Hamilton watches became to be known as of high quality and very accurate.
At the time of ever-growing networks of U.S railroads, inaccurate timekeeping was causing numerous accidents that, in many cases, resulted in people getting killed. Hamilton, renowned for its accurate pocket watches, was eventually contracted to provide railwaymen with precise pieces. Not long after, the brand became synonymous with railroad scheduling and received the title: The Watch of Railroad Accuracy.
During World War I, the influx of wristwatches took off when soldiers required handy timekeeping options. Hamilton was no exception, providing the Armed Forces with reliable watches. It was during the war when the brand’s first wristwatch was introduced – in 1917.
In 1918, a Hamilton aeronautical watch accompanied the first U.S Airmail service between Washington D.C and New York City. Since then, the company is widely regarded as one of the best providers of aviation watches.
When the first war brought the Hamilton brand to the wristwatches era, then World War II determined its position as the powerhouse of the U.S watchmaking.
Over one million watches were produced, with the most recognized of them being the chronometers for marines. The military highly appreciated the quality and accuracy that Hamilton watches possessed.
A Celebrity Brand
The post-war period shaped the course of the brand when several Hamilton watches featured in major Hollywood movies. One of the most notable wearers of the brand was Elvis Presley that especially admired the apparel of the electric watch of Ventura.
In fact, Hamilton became the first brand to introduce an electric watch in 1957. It was available in a variety of non-traditional asymmetrical case styles, including that same Hamilton Ventura that the King of Rock N Roll was so amazed of. Shaped as a triangular shield, it is still available in Hamilton’s collections.
After acquiring the Buren Watch Company of Switzerland in 1966, Hamilton gradually shifted towards the Swiss. The cooperation resulted in the first patented automatic watch movement to eliminate the external oscillating weight. The Hamilton-Buren Micro-rotor utilized a much smaller weight that was entirely integrated into the movement.
In 1969, Hamilton ended its American production, moving all of its manufacturing to Switzerland. The new Hamilton-Buren products manufactured in Europe did not take up interest, resulting in the cooperation’s termination in 1972.
However, before the termination happened, Hamilton was able to present the world’s first digital watch in 1970 – the Pulsar. Two years later, the one-of-a-kind watch was marketed to the public, featuring a push-button for the time to be displayed.
In 1974, Hamilton was sold to SSIH, the predecessor of the Swatch Group. Regardless of the acquisition, Hamilton remained in the U.S, producing quality mechanical and quartz timepieces mainly for the Americans.
In the 1980s, the brand’s classic style was again revived, taking its variety of designs to a whole new level. Not only was the brand now known for futuristic and militaristic apparel, but vintage as well.
After the formation of the Swatch Group, Hamilton became a genuine Swiss brand with an American spirit. ETA-equipped Swiss movements were cased in the American style, showcasing the connection between the two industries. In 2003, the Swiss-made tag was finally possible to add to Hamilton’s wristwear when the headquarters and manufacturing facilities moved from the States to Biel, Switzerland.
Recent developments have seen Hamilton starting to employ personalized movements, with the calibers known under the H-series – H-10, H-30, H-40, etc.
Hamilton – “Movie watch”
Widely regarded as the “Movie watch,” the brand has assured its position as a celebrity watch brand through numerous appearances in major Hollywood blockbusters.
The first time a Hamilton watch appeared on the silver screen happened in 1932 in the film Shanghai Express. In 1951, the appearance in The Frogmen that received two Academy Award nominations became one of the defining movie moments for the brand.
An electric watch, the Ventura, featured on the wrist of Elvis Presley in a musical comedy Blue Hawaii in 1961. This futuristically shaped watch didn’t remain the last appearance for ultra-modern Hamilton wristwear when Stanley Kubrick ordered unique timepieces for his 2001: A Space Odyssey film.
The 1990s saw the relationship with the film industry intensify even more. The blockbusters Men in Black, Independence Day, and Die Hard, to name a few, featured a Hamilton on the lead characters’ wrists.
The most recent movies that have featured the brand’s timepieces include Interstellar, The Martian, and Tenet.
Taking a glance at all the films mentioned, it’s no wonder Hamilton carries the “Movie watch” tag.
Where Are Hamilton Watches Made?
Due to the fact of being a subsidiary of the Swatch Group, Hamilton watches carry Swiss-made tag. In other words, the movements have been assembled and inspected in Switzerland, and at least 60% of manufacturing costs are domestic.
Since a Swiss watch is required to be produced at least 60% domestically, it leaves the rest of 40% free of regulations. Simply put, we can expect up to 40% of watch parts to be of foreign origins, such as China and various South-East Asian countries that can offer lower production costs.
However, the movements are entirely Swiss made, thus guaranteeing the precision and quality we expect from the industry.
Hamilton Watches Quality & Movements
The Hamilton Watch Company is renowned for its quality timepieces and reliable movements.
Stainless steel is the prime material for watch casings. The upper-class watches are of titanium, an exceptionally lightweight material that is also durable and robust.
All the watches come with a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal. It is the most robust material after a diamond, thus perfect for high-end watches. Another widely employed quality material, ceramic, can be found from the bezels of Hamilton watches.
The straps include all the significant materials, such as stainless steel, rubber, and leather. Pierre Frolla, the four-time world record holder in freediving, has a particular appraisal for rubber bands in Hamilton’s Khaki Navy collection.
When talking about watch movements, then automatic calibers are, perhaps, the expertise of the brand.
Producing the first-ever micro-rotor movement in cooperation with the Buren Watch Company, which eventually set the groundwork for the introduction of the first automatic chronograph in 1969, is a clear indication of the brand’s approach towards manufacturing quality complications.
Since the quality of mechanical calibers is so high, we’ve selected several Hamilton watches to our list of the best automatic timepieces.
In collaboration with ETA, another renowned company under the Swatch Group, Hamilton has developed its own personalized automatic calibers. H-21 and H-31 are chronograph movements honoring the company’s achievement in this field. H-10, H-30, and H-40 calibers, however, feature extended power reserve of up to 80 hours.
You’ll also find hand-winding mechanical complications, as well as quality Swiss quartz movements.
Technology-wise, Hamilton employs Super-LumiNova innovation – a luminescent feature in watch hands, indices, and dials. The brand’s dive wristwear also comes with water resistance up to 1,000 meters (3,300 feet), closely following the standards of ISO 6425.
Hamilton Watch Reputation
As you would already expect, the appearances in more than 500 major Hollywood movies guarantee Hamilton an unflappable reputation worldwide. And if you thought that only the appearances earn the fame, you’re wrong.
Not every watch has the opportunity to feature in Hollywood – the brand had to earn it somehow. Through quality movements and durable and reliable watches that have served in the wars and national departments, Hamilton has achieved it.
Besides the film industry, the brand is well present in the aviation industry. For instance, Hamilton is the Official Timekeeper of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship. It also began working with top air squadrons from all over the world, securing its status as the favorite watch of pilots.
Overall, Hamilton is considered a mid-priced Swiss brand superior in quality and design compared to the counterparts in the same price range.
Hamilton is definitely not a luxury watch brand, as the attention to detail and sophistication of the wristwear is not on par with the likes of Omega or Tag Heuer. The brand has emphasized producing highly reliable watches for affordable prices to be available for a wide specter of customers.
Hamilton is often compared to Tissot, another famous watch manufacturer under the wing of the Swatch Group. Their quality levels are on par, as is their reputation. If you’re interested in the head-to-head comparison of the two, feel free to visit our dedicated post on Tissot vs Hamilton comparison.
How Much Do Hamilton Watches Cost?
Hamilton watches may not come as cheap as many other affordable Swiss watch companies, such as Swatch, Wenger, or Certina. Still, the majority of wristwear stays conveniently below $1,000.
Simple yet highly reliable models start from $300, while mid-range pieces cost between $400-$800. Automatic chronograph watches are with the highest valuation, costing more than $1,000.
Thus, a quality Hamilton watch is available for $300-$1,500.
Feel free to check out our list of the top affordable Swiss watches that also include several Hamilton timepieces.
Are Hamilton Watches Any Good?
The aim of this Hamilton watches review was to conclude whether the brand is good, and to what extent the good reaches.
So, are Hamilton watches good? Definitely, no doubt about it! Considering the prices these watches are sold, the brand provides more than we could expect from a Swiss watch company.
Reliable automatic calibers, durable and high-quality materials, and unflappable reputation in numerous walks of life are the perfect examples of Hamilton’s dedication to producing the best possible.
But are Hamilton watches good enough even for the most demanding segment of customers? It depends.
When a possible buyer is looking for luxury, then a Rolex or Blancpain would do better. Higher grade materials and movements, as well as rigid quality controls, determine their standards for being classified as luxury brands.
However, those who can not afford to pay at least $7,000-$10,000 for a wristwatch must settle with the highest possible price-quality ratio that is available. In this matter, Hamilton should be a decent choice in the affordable category. You can expect the watch to last for years to come, without worrying too much over the price paid.
Hamilton Watch Collections Reviewed
This Hamilton watches review would be incomplete without looking into the vast collections of watches that Hamilton offers. As follows, we’ll briefly cover all the seven available collections – Khaki Field, Khaki Aviation, Khaki Navy, Ventura, Jazzmaster, American Classic, and Broadway.
Hamilton Khaki Field
The Khaki Field collection includes classic army style watches that have been tried and tested over time. Vintage, as well as contemporary appearance timepieces, come with quartz, automatic, and manual mechanical movements.
Some of the watches are of titanium and feature automatic chronograph calibers. Though being classic in its appearance, the Khaki Field offers a more flashy look in its skeletonized dials where the clockworks of mechanical movement are clearly visible.
One of the most popular models includes Khaki Field King Auto, where the military time prominently features on the dial, underlining its military heritage. For rough conditions, specially designed protectors ensure the well-being of the crown at all times.
Powermatic 80 caliber in a 40mm stainless steel case shows that this model boasts not only excellent looks but also the convenience and utmost quality with its 80-hour power reserve.
Hamilton Khaki Aviation
As it is with the Khaki Field collection, the Aviation line as well includes classic army style wristwatches along with flashier chronograph-featured timepieces. Simple analog quartz watches are the most affordable, while automatic chronograph pieces cost the most.
Since aviator watches tend to be larger than typical wristwear, you’ll find the majority of them sized between 42-48mm in diameter. Inner and outer rings of the dial in contemporary watches often feature all the necessary numberings for various speed and distance measurements that a pilot could use.
One of the bestsellers is the aviation-inspired Khaki Aviation Pilot Day Date Auto, which runs on a H-30 automatic movement. 80-hour power reserve ensures enough energy storage for days without any additional winding, while the 46mm case size makes sure the watch will not go unnoticed.
Based on the design of cockpit instruments, and sporting white details against a dark dial, it’s a throwback to the early days of aviation.
Hamilton Khaki Navy
The Khaki Navy collection has a variety of styles catering to different tastes. Aimed mainly for water activities, the watches also suit perfectly for everyday occasions and come in cheerful color specter.
Mechanical, automatic, and quartz movements make the timepieces tick, while water resistance from 100m (330ft) to 1,000m (3,300ft) ensures reliability even in the deepest conditions. Unidirectional rotating bezel and underwater luminescence are also present in the Hamilton Navy collection.
Along with the Frogman and Belowzero models, the Khaki Navy Scuba Auto stands out for being classy and up to the occasion.
Though not for professional diving, the watch features water-resistance up to 100m, which is perfect for shallow diving, snorkeling, swimming, surfing, and other water sports.
The 40mm stainless steel case is with a unidirectional bezel, a black dial, and a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal. The stainless steel band is fitted with a fold-over clasp, while luminous hands enhance the visibility of numbers and indices in the dark.
We’ve actually listed a close model of the Khaki Navy Scuba among the best dive watches that is available for less than $500. So feel free to check it out!
Probably the most iconic, and, without a doubt, the most eye-catching collection from the Hamilton line-up is the Ventura line. The watch gained popularity for being unorthodox in its looks, as it’s designed as a shield in the shape of a triangle.
With vintage style and charm, as well as the enduring legacy of being the Elvis watch, this distinctive collection is the representation of pure Hamilton.
Various models are available, but one of the most interesting of them is the Ventura XXL Auto.
For being larger than the original Ventura, the XXL version inevitably catches an eye. Another impressive aesthetic feature is a see-through case back, where the H-10 automatic movement is clearly visible. Other features you’ll find from this watch include stainless steel case, sapphire crystal, and luminescent hands.
The Hamilton Jazzmaster offers contemporary and modern wristwear perfect for professional occasions. Quality craftsmanship is the characteristic of the collection, meaning the prices are somewhat heftier than in other collections.
Stopwatch function and the skeletonized dial or case back is often present, while metal and leather straps are prevalent. Solid Swiss automatic movements, as well as quartz and mechanical movements, provide the timekeeping, and various dial colors ensure everyone finds a suitable style.
An inherent model of the collection is the Jazzmaster Auto Chrono with an automatic stopwatch function.
Suitable for all kinds of activities, including swimming and snorkeling, this versatile 10 ATM timepiece is cased in stainless steel and covered with a sapphire crystal dial.
Hamilton American Classic
This collection represents the true classic line of Hamilton. It is versatile, represents the American heritage, and guarantees a model that suits everyone’s signature style.
The famous RailRoad watch, vintage Boulton timepiece, and other historic models find themselves revived.
The Hamilton Intra-Matic Auto is an excellent example of how classic design never goes out of fashion.
Monochromatic dial and yellow PVD coating add precisely the classic style you would expect from the Classic line. Reliable yet straightforward ETA automatic movement provides the timekeeping, while the goat leather band gives the timepiece its characteristic feature.
The most contemporary line of watches is Hamilton’s Broadway collection, which is aimed for style-conscious men strolling the streets of the cities.
Automatic and quartz watches from this collection feature color and texture-rich apparel and cases in above-average sizes.
The Broadway Day Date Quartz Chrono is a quartz watch with a vertically striped dial.
A silver-tone stainless steel case with a black leather band is the most straightforward style for a conscious urban man. There’s no need to worry if the street lights are off because the luminous hands provide convenient time tracking even in the dark.
Hamilton Watches Warranty Policy
Hamilton watches come with a 2-year limited warranty, effective from the date of purchase. The international warranty covers the material and manufacturing defects existing at the time of delivery.
If there’s a defect, your Hamilton watch will be repaired free of charge or replaced with another watch of identical or similar features.
What’s important though is that the warranty certificate must be dated, fully and correctly completed and stamped by an official Hamilton dealer. Otherwise, it is void.
Conclusion: Hamilton Watches Review
Hamilton is considered a mid-tear Swiss brand that boasts high-quality wristwatches at very reasonable prices. Hamilton watches are very good but those watch aficionados with superior quality expectations might find Hamilton below their standards. Nevertheless, the level that the Swiss watch manufacturing has set is astounding – even the cheapest Swiss watch provides the reliability that other industries find tough to match.
We hope this Hamilton watches review has given you a thorough insight into this magnificent Swiss-American brand.
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