Hamilton Wrist Watches by Stan Shelley

Posted on Friday, February 16th, 2018 at 7:21 pm by Shelley's Jewelry

In the first decade of the twentieth century Hamilton joined other watch firms in making a revolutionary new product, the wristwatch. A few had been made in the nineteenth century for military purposes, but for the general population this was a new thing. For decades Hamilton was at the forefront of innovative design for wristwatch styles.

Figure 1: Hamilton Wrist Watch

One of the most popular watches for collectors today is the Piping Rock model which came out in 1928 and was made for many years. To market the watch when it was introduced, Hamilton announced that all members of the team that won the World Series that year would be given one of these watches. The Yankees won so Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig were owners of this watch. The watch is still popular. I guess you could say it was a home run.

Hamilton Piping Rock Wrist Watch
Figure 2: Hamiliton Piping Rock

 In 1957 Hamilton introduced to the world the first electric watch, powered by a battery rather than mechanical winding. For about eleven years they produced these watches, most of which had modernistic, asymmetrical cases. Very few of these watches were solid gold so they seldom have intrinsic metal value, but they are popular with collectors, some of whom specialize in this category. One of the most desirable electric watches is the Altair shown below.

Hamilton Altair 
Figure 3: Hamilton Altair

In 1971 I was in college studying engineering and taking a course in product design. For a project we had to dream up a product and then design it. I decided upon a digital watch that would give the time in numbers rather than with hands, but the professor said it was ridiculous and made me change topics. I did not realize that the year before, Hamilton had introduced the world’s first digital watch. It was electronic (mine was mechanical) and one had to push a button to get the time, digitally, in red. The watch had absolutely no moving parts and was truly a marvel. Hamilton once again had been on the cutting edge of technology. The irritation of having to push a button to get the time made this watch short-lived and today it looks like a dinosaur, but collectors love them.

I have not mentioned ladies’ watches for good reason. While the market for men’s vintage watches is strong, the same is not true for their opposite gender. A lady’s 14K Hamilton watch with a black cord band from the thirties or forties has a classic look, but lesser value than gents watches. Absolutely beautiful are the ladies’ diamond watches of the fifties and sixties, like the one below. I see a lot of these in 14K gold or platinum and the vast majority of them are Hamiltons. 

 Lady's Hamilton Diamond Watch
Figure 4: Lady's Hamilton Diamond Watch

1974 proved to be a very pivotal year for the Hamilton Watch Company. Due to a slow turn in sales for Hamilton, Swatch Group (formerly SSIH) infused much needed revenue into the company. With new models like the X-Wind Series, Jazzmaster and others, Hamilton has once again become a strong contender in the competitive watch market.

Hamilton is also producing desirable chronographs and complicated watches which are popular in the resale world.  The Field Automatic Chronograph is shown below.

Hamilton Field Automatic Chronograph
Figure 5: Hamilton Field Automatic Chronograph

While many Hamilton watch styles are collectible, they are generally not extremely expensive, which broadens the base of collectors.

Click here to take a look at what Hamilton watches we currently have available. 

Collectible wrist watches turn over quickly in our inventory. We advise you to check our web site often, or, if you are looking for a particular watch, call Cass at Shelley’s Jewelry at 828-692-3615, and he will add you to a list of particular watches he is on the lookout for.