Hamilton was founded in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and began producing pocket watches. From the very beginning, the focus was on quality and accuracy, and these principles have made Hamilton the internationally renowned watch brand it is today.
In the early days of American railroads, there was no common method of timing and accidents were frequent. The precision of Hamilton pocket watches helped solve this problem and our timepieces soon received the title: The Watch of Railroad Accuracy.
As an official supplier to the U.S. Armed Forces during WWI, Hamilton equipped hundreds of soldiers with the reliable timepieces so important during war. This prompted a shift in production from pocket watches to the more convenient wristwatch, a change that was here to stay.
More than a century ago, a Hamilton aeronautical watch accompanied the first US Airmail service between Washington, D.C., and New York City. This was the beginning of our long history producing technical timepieces for the flying community, and today we continue to fly on the wrists of pilots around the world.
Admiral Richard E. Byrd became the first aviator to reach the North Pole, circling it for 13 minutes before returning to base. He timed this pioneering 15 hour and 57 minute flight with a Hamilton watch.
Pilot watches do a lot more than tell time and our technical advancements helped early aviators arrive safely on the first flight from California to Hawaii. These early aviators relied on the precision of Hamilton to make critical calculations of time, distance and direction as they navigated over the Pacific Ocean.
Hamilton’s well-known Piping Rock watch made its debut in 1928 and specially engraved versions were presented to the New York Yankees in celebration of their World Series win that year. Members of the team included Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, some of baseball's most famous players.
By now renowned for accuracy in flight, Hamilton was the official watch of the four major American commercial airlines of the day. Hamilton was also selected as the official timekeeper for the very first coast-to-coast service from New York to San Francisco.
Two Hamilton watches – a Pipping Rock and a Flintridge – appeared in the film ‘Shanghai Express’ and were important devices that advanced the movie plot. This was the earliest appearance of our watches in a Hollywood movie.
Hamilton stopped producing watches for consumers to focus on the enormous task of supplying the U.S. Armed Forces during WWII. We produced over one million timepieces including wristwatches and marine chronometers, even earning an Army-Navy E award for excellence in manufacturing.
‘The Frogmen’ received two Academy Award nominations. Hamilton’s appearance in the film showed our robust and practical military watches in action on the big screen and became one of our defining movie moments.
Hamilton revolutionized the watch industry by producing the world's first electrical battery operated watch. The Ventura's unique and futuristic shield-shaped design, created by renowned industrial designer Richard Arbib, caused an instant sensation.
The Ventura's popularity reached new heights when it appeared on the wrist of megastar and figurehead of the Rock and Roll movement, Elvis Presley. The watch was chosen for the legendary performer's character in his musical comedy 'Blue Hawaii'.
Designer Richard Arbib went on to create other electrical watches for Hamilton after the initial success of the Ventura, each with an asymmetric design. Perhaps the most dramatic of these was the Altair, which was produced in a limited edition of 1,600 pieces.
Stanley Kubrick approached Hamilton in 1966 to create unique timepieces for his new, futuristic film, '2001: A Space Odyssey'. The Hamilton design team provided him with a wristwatch and a desk clock that proved almost as iconic as the film itself.
Hamilton played an integral role in the invention of the first automatic chronograph movement, the Caliber 11. Yet again, Hamilton was involved in one of the biggest breakthroughs in watchmaking history.
The invention of the world’s first digital wristwatch was announced May 6, 1970 on ‘The Tonight Show.’ Hamilton presented the Hamilton Pulsar Time Computer: with no moving parts, it was unlike anything anyone had ever seen.
The Pulsar, the world’s first digital watch, is launched to the public changing the way the we tell time forever. The display was created using LEDs activated by a button on the side of its solid gold case. Hamilton produced only 400 pieces, which sold for $2,100, more than the price of a car at the time.
On May 16, Hamilton was sold to SSIH, which is the previous name of what is now the Swatch Group. Although part of a new group, Hamilton was still located in the U.S. and retained our reputation for producing quality, precision timepieces.
After years of futuristic designs, the 1980s saw classic pieces return to the fore. Hamilton revived and reintroduced designs from the 20s to the 60s. Old favorites like the Boulton, Ardmore, Wilshire and Ventura led the trend for classic watches.
Hamilton's close relationship with Hollywood intensified in the 1990s with appearances on the wrists of characters in major movies including 'Men in Black', 'Lethal Weapon 4', 'Independence Day', 'The Talented Mr. Ripley' and 'Die Hard' to name a few.
Hamilton transferred both our headquarters and production facilities to the heart of watchmaking in Biel, Switzerland. The move allowed Hamilton to begin adding the ultimate quality mark 'Swiss made' to each watch produced in its new location.
Hamilton partnered with leading aerobatic pilot and official brand ambassador, Nicolas Ivanoff, and became heavily involved in the exhilarating worlds of air racing and aerobatics with the Red Bull Air Race and the Swiss Aerobatic Association.
Hamilton hosted the very first Hamilton Behind the Camera Awards in Hollywood to celebrate the heroes who work behind the scenes. Our recognition of off-screen talent was underlined by the presentation of the awards by top movie actors and directors.
In collaboration with movement specialist ETA, Hamilton developed its own personalized automatic calibers, H-21 and H-31. Three years later the H-10, H-30 and H-40 followed, each offering wearers an extended power reserve of up to 80 hours.
Hamilton worked closely with our new aviation partner, the famous rescue service Air Zermatt, to develop the Khaki Flight Timer. Hamilton also began working with top air squadrons from all over the world, securing our status as the favorite watch of pilots.
Hamilton continued its close association with the world of movies, collaborating with designers working on the smash-hit movie 'Interstellar', a film in which time plays a key role. Hamilton worked with designers to develop a unique piece for the lead character played by Jessica Chastain, which would become affectionately known as “The Murph” by fans.
Hamilton appeared on the big screen on the wrist of the main character in Ridley Scott's epic adventure, 'The Martian'. The Khaki BeLOWZERO underlined the strength and determination of the character Mark Watney, played by Matt Damon, who is left behind on a mission to Mars.
Hamilton celebrated the 60th anniversary of the iconic Ventura, the world's first-ever electric watch. The Ventura has gained a legion of fans since its launch in 1957, including superstar Elvis Presley.
Hamilton is proud to celebrate our first century of timing the skies. Since 1918, professional aviators have chosen Hamilton watches to accompany them in the cockpit thanks to our innovation, accuracy and precision.
We turn the spotlight on our close relationship with Hollywood and our work at the heart of cinema. With over 500 major movie appearances and a stunning catalogue of milestone moments on the silver screen, Hamilton is the movie makers' choice.
From synchronizing the first American railroads to inventing both the electric and the digital watch, Hamilton has been at the forefront of groundbreaking developments since 1892. At the start of a this new decade, we celebrate the game changing attitude and pioneering spirit that has guaranteed our place timing changes in the watchmaking industry and in the world.