Hamilton: History of the Military Watch Company

Hamilton is a watch brand that boasts the titles "Swiss Made" and "American Spirit."

The brand, which embodies these two identities, has made a great contribution to the history of watches.
Let's trace its roots and evolution.

Hamilton History

Adams & Perry clocks were founded in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA in 1874 .

The company, which began during the Great Depression, produced fine watches but was hit hard by the economic downturn and restructured several times.
In 1892, the company was reborn as Hamilton Watch Co., Ltd. and began a new chapter in its history.

Located between New York and Washington, DC, Pennsylvania is the birthplace of the United States of America, where the Declaration of Independence was signed and the United States Constitution was drafted.

Hamilton watches, which were born in a country full of such pioneering spirit, later moved their base to Switzerland, the home of the watch industry, and have supported the development of society with their revolutionary technology that keeps accurate time.
The American spirit that formed its foundation is still alive today, always looking to the future and continuing to evolve as if opening up new worlds.


Since its founding, Hamilton Watches has earned a reputation as a manufacturer of cutting-edge, high-quality timepieces.
In the late 1800s , precision railroad clocks were not yet widespread and accidents were frequent in the American railroad industry, so the company provided accurate clocks to help bring safety to the workplace.

Hamilton Military Watch Supply

Duke University https://repository.duke.edu/dc/eaa/A0499
The company then further expanded its capabilities and played an important role in the production of military watches.
Hamilton supplied watches to the U.S. military as the official watch supplier during World War I and World War II in the 1900s .

During World War II, production of general watches was halted and the company was tasked with producing watches for the military.
The sense of responsibility for soldiers' lives and deaths drives precision and reliability at every stage of production.
Advertisements promoting the company's war efforts

This model was produced for only two years from 1940, and production was discontinued due to the war. Under the Franklin Roosevelt administration, production of general watches was discontinued. https://vintage-hamilton-wristwatches.com/2020/10/hamilton-sentinel-mens-wristwatch-1940-1942/

Wristwatches were originally used as women's accessories, but with the onset of war, people began to wear wristwatches that could be read instantly with one hand, rather than pocket watches which had to be carried in a pocket and taken out each time a person needed a watch.

Wristwatches are subject to strict quality standards set by the US military, known as MIL-SPEC .
Only high-performance watches that were durable, waterproof, and flexible could earn the title of military watch.

(Photo above) 1945 WWII Pilot's Watch Spec Sheet https://vintage-hamilton-wristwatches.com/2018/06/hamilton-wristwatch-identification-aid-original-military-dial-specifications/

(Photo below) Hamilton GCT chronometer used for time indicator etc. https://vintage-hamilton-wristwatches.com/2013/11/hamilton-world-war-two-wristwatches/

In this environment, Hamilton demonstrated its strength by manufacturing watches with a second-hand stopping function, known as the "hack function."

By stopping the second hand, soldiers could synchronize each other's watches down to the last second, making this a function that was essential for carrying out military operations.

Hamilton was able to offer that type of watch while meeting the strict requirements.

The only other brands capable of producing the same type of military watch were Elgin, Bulova and Waltham.

Thanks to its hacking function, it was such an important watch that it was called "the watch that won the war," determining the lives of soldiers and the outcome of the war.

"WW II Hamilton Bomber Timer"
Hamilton used the camera in a battle simulation.


Hamilton watches are a testament to precision

During World War II, Hamilton contributed to winning the war by supplying marine chronometers to the U.S. Navy.

At the time, without satellites or long-distance radio, navigation was done by dead voyage, a method of calculating routes using a compass or other instruments.
However, due to the influence of ocean currents and wind, even the slightest error could cause the course to shift, which was a problem.

The US government then asked watch companies to produce chronographs that could record time precisely.

Building chronographs for the Navy required strict standards, but Hamilton was the only company that was able to meet those standards and mass-produce high-precision chronographs, despite the harsh conditions of war.

"Marine Chronometer" https://www.hamiltonwatch.com/ja-jp/military-heritage.html

Hamilton's greatest claim to fame is the marine chronometer, with over 10,000 orders placed between 1942 and 1945 , and Hamilton supplied over one million military watches.

Even after the war, the company maintained a relationship of trust with the U.S. military, and feedback from them on the production of new models is still used in product development.
Thanks to partnerships with some of the world's top air forces and military academies, Hamilton's signature military watch, the Khaki collection, is constantly evolving.

 Hamilton's superior capabilities led the Allied forces to victory during the World Wars and made a great contribution to American military history.

Hamilton prices on the secondary market today are not as high as luxury watches, but looking back, it is a brand with a great history of innovation.

To be called Swiss Made, 60% of the watch's movement must be produced in Switzerland, so Hamilton movements are assembled and tested in Switzerland, ensuring precise and reliable watches.

Hamilton's rich heritage and brand ethos give it a charm and brilliance that no other luxury watch can match.