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Swiss tradition paired with American spirit
The Pilot Watch Magazine
05 May 2024

American traditional brand with Swiss heart

Hamilton is a Swiss manufacturer of wristwatches based in Biel, the heart of the Swiss watch industry. The company is founded in 1892 in the American city of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and initially starts with the production of pocket watches. Today, Hamilton is part of the Swatch Group. Although the timepieces of the internationally respected watchmaker have the prestigious label “Swiss made”, but still to this day every second heralds the spirit of their American founding fathers.

By the way, the name of the company was originally supposed to be Columbian. But when it turned out that another watch manufacturer was already claiming this name as a trademark, a new name was unceremoniously chosen in November 1892 at a shareholders’ meeting of the watchmaker. The watch manufactory is named after James Hamilton, son of a Scottish-born lawyer and owner of the land on which the watch factory is located. It is the birth of the Hamilton brand.

From the very beginning, Hamilton attaches great importance to the quality and accuracy of its timepieces. And so pocket watches of the Hamilton brand under the title The Watch of Railroad Accuracy quickly achieve great fame already in the early days of the American railroad. Later, when the rail network was further expanded across the entire continent, Hamilton supplied its precision watches to all the well-known railroad companies. These form the basis of nationwide timetable synchronization, helping to prevent accidents caused by inaccurate and inconsistent timings up to that point.

From the rails to the sky, from the depths of the ocean to the urban jungle, Hamilton watches represent the perfect balance between American Spirit and Swiss precision.


Hamilton synonymous with pilot watches

During the two world wars, Hamilton produced special models for the military, especially for pilots. This led to a shift in production from pocket watches to the more comfortable wristwatch – a reorientation that was to last. Even before that, the watchmaker was making a name for itself in the civilian aviation sector. For example, Hamilton timepieces contributed to the punctuality of the new “Coast-to-coast” service of US Airmail, accompanying American airmail between Washington, D.C. and New York. Since then, the Hamilton name has been virtually synonymous with precision pilot watches in the fascinating world of aviation. Today, the company is the official timekeeper of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship.

Innovator in the watch market

Innovation is one of the most important key elements in Hamilton’s success. In 1957, the Ventura, the world’s first battery-powered electric wristwatch, appeared. This was followed in 1970 by the Pulsar, the world’s first watch with a digital LED display – a sensation. Since 2011, Hamilton has been developing its own movements in cooperation with Swiss caliber specialist ETA. Also in recent years, the company has manifested its position as an innovator in the watch market with the introduction of new models, unique designs and new technologies. Since 1974, Hamilton is now part of the Swiss Swatch Group.

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