Hamilton Watches Review
If you’re a watch collector, you have almost certainly heard of Hamilton watches. The company was founded in the United States in the 1890s, and was, at one time, one of the largest watch manufacturers in the country. The company featured lots of innovation in both style and substance, and the company introduced the first electric watch to the marketplace in 1957.
Times caught up with the company, and for a while they were making inexpensive and unremarkable watches. In the early 1970s, Hamilton was purchased by a group that eventually became Swatch, and the company is now one of 20 or so watchmakers that are owned by the Swatch group.
Today, the brand offers an interesting selection of styles, complications, and movements, and offer them in a price range that should be agreeable to just about anyone’s budget.
Read on for the full Hamilton watches review.
The build quality is quite good. They offer cases in stainless steel as well as 18k gold. Water resistance is good, with most models rated at about 50 meters or so. They use sapphire crystal to protect the watch face, and many of their watches also have sapphire case backs. Straps are leather, gold or stainless, and the company offers a good selection of models for both men and women.
The brand covers the spectrum when it comes to watch movements. They offer watches with quartz movements, manually-wound mechanical movements and automatic mechanical movements. While most of their watches have analog displays, they do offer a few with digital displays, as well.
Hamilton watches have a long history of innovation. At one time, the company made watches exclusively for use by the railroads. During World War II, they changed production to produce models designed specifically for the U.S. military. In the late 1950s, they introduced the world’s first electric (though not quartz) watch, the Hamilton Electric 500.
The electric watch was available in a variety of styles, but perhaps the most interesting was the asymmetrical “Ventura” model, designed by forward-thinking designer Richard Arbib. This model was more or less triangular in shape, and a number of variations were produced over the years. Elvis Presley famously wore an electric Ventura watch in the film Blue Hawaii.
Today, the company has returned to making high quality watches with features and styling that will appeal to a broad range of buyers. And yes, you can still purchase a Ventura if you’d like, as they are again in production.
Styling of Hamilton watches is a bit all over the map. If you’re looking for a traditional, time-only watch that would be suitable for a day at the office, they’ve got that. If you like edgy, cutting-edge styling, they’ve got the old-school Ventura or newer, limited edition models such as the Face2Face Jazzmaster.
In between, they offer a nice selection of chronographs, fashion watches and aviation watches, with models for both men and women. While most models offer stainless steel cases, they do offer a few models with gold cases, if you’re so inclined.
A few models have an “open” or “skeleton” design, which allows you to see the inner workings of the movement. You’ll also find a few complications here and there in Hamilton watches, such as power reserve indicators, day/date displays, and chronographs.
Care and maintenance of Hamilton watches will vary, depending on which models you buy. Quartz models will require little maintenance, aside from the replacement of the battery every 3-5 years. Mechanical models should be serviced every few years by an authorized Hamilton service center in order to ensure that the watch is continuing to work properly and that the internal parts of the movement are not worn.
As with all watches, you should keep your watch away from extremes of temperature and strong magnetic fields. You should also be aware that many models have modest, but not extreme, water resistance and are not suited to deep immersion in water.
With proper care, your watch should run well for decades.
The warranty offered with the purchase is the industry standard of two years. This will cover defects in materials and craftsmanship. These watches are well tested at the factory, so genuine defects are likely quite rare.
The prices will vary quite a bit, depending on the model. They have a rather broad spectrum of pricing, with some models available for as little as $250 or so if you shop around. More elaborate models with additional features or gold cases will sell for quite a bit more, with a few models having prices in the $5000-$6000 range.
Most of the models we’ve seen for sale are priced in the hundreds, rather than the thousands, of dollars, and for the most part, we’d say that the company’s overall product line is pretty affordable.
You can buy at a variety of retailers, both online and in brick and mortar stores. The company does have a list of “authorized” retailers, though they do not restrict sales to company-owned boutiques. You may find that some online retailers are able to offer better pricing, though any single retailer may not have the complete product line for sale, as the company currently offers more than 100 different models.
Like a lot of companies that made mechanical watches, Hamilton went through a turbulent period during the 1970s. The company was once on the cutting edge of watch design, but as quartz watches took over, they began to stumble a bit in their product line and they lost focus as to what they were trying to do.
Today, under Swatch ownership, the company is enjoying a resurgence, and they’ve found a nice place in the middle ground between “commodity” watches and ultra-high-end models. With pricing in the $250-$6000 range, there are models that should appeal to everyone’s wallet.
With a nice selection of sizes, styles, colors and features, they should also appeal to just about anyone’s sense of taste, too. They’re high quality timepieces that are built and designed by people who obviously like watches a lot. We think you’ll like them, too.