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Hands-on with Hamilton
HOW-TO CHANGE YOUR NATO WATCH STRAP?
HOW-TO CHANGE YOUR LEATHER WATCH STRAP?
HOW-TO CALCULATE CONVERSIONS WITH YOUR PILOT WATCH?
WHAT IS A WATCH MOVEMENT?
In the watch world, a movement is the mechanism within a watchcase that powers a timepiece. The term originated with early clockwork machines made up of many moving parts. Movements, also known as calibers, vary widely by watch and can be mechanical, automatic or quartz. Just remember, regardless of the watch movement type, its core purpose is to tell accurate time.
WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF WATCH MOVEMENTS?
Watch movements fall into one of two categories: mechanical vs. quartz. As their names imply, mechanical movements are a series of interconnected parts that move together ‘mechanically,’ without electricity or battery usage. Quartz refers to the exact opposite, a watch movement powered with the use of a battery.
HOW DOES A MECHANICAL WATCH WORK?
There are two types of mechanical watches: manual and automatic. The first must be hand wound via the watch’s crown every few days. The second, invented at the end of the 18th century, is self-winding, meaning when worn consistently winding the watch by hand is unnecessary.
Both mechanical watch movements are comprised of a crown, mainspring, gear train, escapement and balance wheel. Very simply, the mainspring is the power storage, which stores energy and transfers it through gears and springs, regulating the release of energy and ultimately powering the watch.
The amount of energy stored varies by movement, and is described as power reserve. For example, a hand winding mechanical watch with an 80-hour power reserve must be rewound every 80 hours to continue running.
Automatic mechanical watches also have power reserves, but thanks to the addition of a metal weight called a rotor, energy transfers automatically with the natural movement of your wrist. What does this mean? If you have an automatic watch, it will continue to work unless the rotor isn’t activated sufficiently (e.g. you aren’t wearing the watch) for a period of time that exceeds the specified power reserve.
HOW DOES A QUARTZ WATCH WORK?
In 1957, Hamilton released the world’s first electric, battery-powered watch, the triangular-shaped Ventura. A favorite of Elvis Presley, the iconic timepiece changed the watch industry forever by using a battery to as its primary power source.
As technology progressed, a quartz-crystal resonator replaced the balance wheel creating an integrated circuit, which applies electricity from the batter to the quartz crystal in a consistently and continuously.
By 1970, Hamilton would once again transform the watch industry with the announcement of the Pulsar, the world’s first digital electronic watch – a futuristic timepiece with a bright red LED display and no moving parts. In 2020, we celebrated the 50th anniversary with our PSR Digital Quartz.
HOW CAN I TELL WHAT KIND OF MOVEMENT IS POWERING MY WATCH?
Mechanical or quartz movements can both power analog watches. However, it’s easy to tell the difference by watching the second hand move. If it smoothly glides from second to second with no sound, you’re looking at a mechanical watch; if it visually and audibly ‘ticks,’ it’s quartz.
On the other hand, all digital watches are battery powered, and today range from simple LCD time tellers to complex smart watches.
WHICH WATCH MOVEMENT IS RIGHT FOR ME?
While quartz watches are superior in terms of accuracy and reliability, watch enthusiasts and collectors often prefer mechanical watches thanks to their precise craftsmanship and rich heritage. If you want a watch that tells time and is full of character, a mechanical watch is the choice for you. In fact, check out the original soldier’s watch, our hand winding Khaki Field Mechanical for a watch with a story to tell.
AUTOMATIC VS. MECHANICAL VS. QUARTZ WATCH MOVEMENTS?
Mechanical is an umbrella term that can refer to hand wound or self-winding watch movements. However, mechanical is often used to designate a watch as manual vs. automatic. Manual mechanical movements must be wound; automatic mechanical movements self-wind as kinetic energy from the wearer’s wrist is transferred to the mechanism inside the watch. Quartz watch movements have few or no moving parts and are powered by a battery.
WHAT IS A CHRONOGRAPH WATCH?
A chronograph watch is a timepiece with a mechanism built into the movement that can measure elapsed time without disrupting its basic time-telling functionality. Equipped with an independent sweep second hand and sub dials, a chronograph watch can be started, stopped and returned to zero using pushers placed above and below the crown.
WHAT ARE SUB DIALS?
The most common sub dials are found on chronograph watches and are sometimes referred to as ‘registers.’ Traditional chronograph watches feature three, which separately display the seconds, minutes or hours that elapse from the time you activate the stopwatch to when you stop it.
Both functions are initiated by pressing on the top pusher, usually located at 2 o’clock: Press the top pusher once to start the timer, and again to stop the clock. Then, you can read and record the measured time, all without interfering with the watch’s basic display. Ready to use your chronograph watch again? Just reset the chronograph function by pressing the lower pusher, usually located at 4 o’clock, and the stopwatch will reset to zero.
WHAT IS THE POINT OF A CHRONOGRAPH WATCH?
Only used for astronomy-related measurements, the first modern chronograph was invented in 1816, and only a few years later, the function was adapted to time horse races in France. From there, chronograph watches would become a trusted tool for pilots, racing drivers, divers, soldiers and doctors. Special complications were tailored to specific audiences. For example, the flyback mechanism, which allows the wearer to pause and restart the timer, was designed for military aviators.
Throughout the 19th century, all chronograph watches were mechanical movements, requiring the wearer to hand-wind the watch every few days. In the late 1960’s, Hamilton collaborated with other watch brands to create the first automatic chronograph movement, the Caliber 11. Our Intra-Matic Automatic Chronograph celebrates the technology and design of this game changing invention with signature style, while our Intra-Matic Chronograph H takes things back to basics with an engaging mechanical movement.
WHAT ELSE CAN A CHRONOGRAPH WATCH DO?
Besides its basic stopwatch utility, many chronograph watches feature a tachymeter scale. Inscribed or printed on the bezel (the outer rim of an analog watch), the scale is used to convert elapsed time to rate. Essentially, giving you the ability to calculate speed and distance with a glance at the corresponding number. Watchmakers continue to innovate with new complication combinations and added functionality, creating true multi-tools appreciated for their practical utility and their careful design. Go hands-on with our video tutorials to learn more!
DO I NEED A CHRONOGRAPH WATCH?
Chronograph watches are popular for many reasons. Whether you enjoy the tactile manipulation of gears, the rich heritage or the general aesthetic, chronograph watches have much to offer as both a reliable tool and a stylish accessory.
Your Hamilton watch is a micromechanical high precision instrument, developed and manufactured in Switzerland. Whether you wear your watch every day or only occasionally, your timepiece requires constant care. The following information will help you to preserve its precision and authenticity.
Please note, as with any micromechanical precision instrument, Hamilton watches require regular maintenance to remain in perfect working order.
The frequency with which this maintenance work needs to be carried out depends on the model, as well as environmental conditions and the owner's care of the watch. While we cannot give a specific time interval for servicing, we generally recommend that a complete maintenance service be performed every three (3) to five (5) years.
To ensure that the service completed professionally and to Hamilton’s standards, you should only take your watch to an authorized Hamilton Service Center or official Hamilton retailer.
Please note that leather is a natural material subject to natural aging. Depending on your wearing habits, the strap should be replaced regularly for reasons of safety (security of the watch on your wrist), as well as aesthetic and hygiene reasons. In normal daily wearing conditions it has an average life of six to 12 months.
To keep your leather strap in good condition for as long as possible, Hamilton recommends the following:
• Protect your leather strap from prolonged exposure to sunlight to prevent discoloration
• Leather is permeable: Contact with oily substances and cosmetics can damage it
• To prevent loss of shape and fading of color, avoid contact with any kind of water
• Clean your leather strap with a soft dry cloth: Chemical substances can damage it
During the final quality control review, Hamilton watches are checked for water resistance as marked on the back of the case. However, the water resistance of a watch is not permanent and can be impaired by the natural aging process of the gaskets or accidental knocks to the watchcase.
Additionally, external influences like perspiration, chlorine or salt water, ultraviolet rays and cosmetic products can compromise the seal over time.
Therefore, always rinse your watch with fresh water after it has been in contact with chlorine or salt water, and ensure that the crown, according to the model, is pressed back into position 0, or screwed back carefully so that water cannot get into the mechanism. Do not use crown/push button functions in or under water.
We recommend a water resistance check once per year by an authorized Hamilton Service Center.
The water resistance of your watch is marked on the back of the case:
• 3 bar (30m) / 43 psi (98.4ft)
• 5 bar (50m) / 73 psi (164ft)
• 10 bar (100m) / 145 psi (328ft)
• 15 bar (150m) / 217 psi (492ft)
• 20 bar (200m) / 290 psi (656.1ft)
• 100 bar (1000m) / 1450 psi (3280.8ft)
Always rinse your watch with fresh water after use in, or contact with, chlorine or salt water.
Using your watch correctly is an important part of watch ownership and care. Hamilton’s general and model-specific instruction manuals include illustration keys, movement information and function guidance. Learn how to properly set the time, size a flex bracelet, convert units, calculate speed and more with our catalogue of written and video manuals. Available in several languages, these guides are designed to ensure you use your watch to the fullest every day. Discover more here.
All Hamilton watches can be cleaned with a soft, dry cloth periodically. Water-resistant watchcases, steel bracelets and rubber straps can be cleaned using a small brush (e.g. a toothbrush) and soapy water. Rinse with clear water afterwards and use a soft cloth to dry.
Watch batteries generally last between two and five years, depending on the movement type and the amount of energy used by the various functions. If the second hand begins to jump in four-second intervals, the battery needs to be replaced (end of life indicator).
We recommend that you take your watch to an authorized Hamilton Service Center or official Hamilton retailer as they have the necessary tools and testing equipment to carry out the work professionally based on Hamilton’s standards.
An empty battery must be changed as soon as possible to avoid the risk of leakage and resulting damage to the watch mechanism.
Direct contact with solvents, detergents, perfumes, cosmetic products etc. can damage your strap/bracelet and case. Such chemical liquids also impair the function of the gaskets that ensure the water resistance of your watch.
Hamilton recommends you do not expose your watch to extreme environmental changes (exposure to sunlight followed by immersion in cold water) or extreme temperatures over 60°C (140°F) or below 0°C (32°F).
Whenever possible keep your watch away from magnetic fields like speakers, electric devices, security gates at airports or other electromagnetic appliances. Such devices produce strong magnetic fields that may affect the functions of your watch, influence the accuracy of timekeeping or even completely stop it.
Some of our watches are now equipped with a non-magnetic compensating alloy called Nivachron™. The Nivachron™ balance spring offers a number of advantages. It allows a considerable reduction in the influence of the residual effect of a magnetic field on the running of a watch (a reduction by a factor of 10 to 20, depending on the caliber).
The Swiss-made balance spring, made of a titanium base, is very effective against temperature variations experienced in wearing conditions. In addition, it offers excellent shock resistance. Ultimately, all of these advantages result in a significant improvement in chronometric performance.
HOW OFTEN DOES MY WATCH NEED SERVICE FOR OPTIMAL PERFORMANCE?
We recommend a water resistance check each year and complete service every three to five years. Optimal frequency depends on the wearer’s use of the watch and their environment.
CAN I SEND MY WATCH DIRECTLY TO HAMILTON FOR SERVICE?
Yes, if we have local service centers in your country you can mail your watch directly with a pre-paid shipping label. Submit a request here . Alternatively find a service center near you with our service center locator here.
CAN HAMILTON DETERMINE THE VALUE OF MY VINTAGE WATCH?
While we are happy to provide historical information if available, we do not offer monetary value estimations for vintage Hamilton watches.
CAN HAMILTON SERVICE MY VINTAGE WATCH?
We are able to service select vintage timepieces with mechanical movements only. Please send inquiries with pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org.