The Hamilton Watch Company opened in 1892, and after spending a whole year in preparation, they began production in March of 1894. In the beginning they produced only pocket watches, specifically what were known as reliable railroad watches. In 1908, they expanded there business and began making ladies pendant watches which were much smaller than the large pocket watches they had produced up until then. After World War I ladies wristwatches were introduced, which had cloth or ribbon straps.
Hamilton introduced their first men’s “strap watch” in 1922. They had to not only market the watch, but they had to market the “idea” of a strap or wrist watch. Finally, their use in hot summers when vests were not worn, the association with the war, explorers, and rugged outdoor activities all helped the wristwatch gain acceptance. Hamilton was out in front selling the idea, and aimed much of their promotional materials at merchants–how to sell the “idea.”
In the late twenties, they introduced some stylish watches like the “Cushion,” “Square,” and the “Tonneau.” Their art deco designs of the 1930’s were accompanied with the practice of naming all of the watches. Many people think the 1930’s designs were the golden age of Hamilton’s design and production.
World War II saw the halt of consumer production to concentrate on military watches. Following the war, they sold pre-war designs. Hamilton had introduced new designs in the early 1950’s. By the mid 50’s, their styling failed to capture the American public.
In 1957, they introduced the world’s first electric watch called the Ventura. With a radical asymmetric design to accompany the radical technology, it became Hamilton’s best ever selling gold watch. Many think that the superb manual movements of the 1930’s through the 1950’s, and the innovative electric watch, make Hamilton the most influential watch company of the century.