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The Ultimate Guide to Buying Hamilton Watches

By December 22, 2020No Comments
Hamilton Watch Buying Guide

There are few brands more versatile, well-known, and historically respected as the Hamilton Watch Company when it comes to wristwatches. Since they were founded in 1892, their timepieces have become synonymous with accuracy, durability, and style, serving everyone from Hollywood celebrities to World War Two fighter pilots. Masters of both military and metropolitan styles, Hamilton has a hundred-year history of keeping the world running on time.

Having originated in Switzerland before basing their manufacturing in America, Hamilton combined sophisticated technologies with finely crafted watch movements to provide some of the world’s first accurate timepieces. Designed to reduce railroad accidents by reducing timetabling errors, Hamilton’s original pocket watches played a key role in American history. They later moved into aviation watches, naval watches, and military watches, each of which went on to become staples of American style in the post-war era.

Hamilton isn’t just a historic brand, and naturally, they’re experts at keeping up with the times. Thanks to their widespread popularity in the 20th century, Hamilton’s watches soon became ubiquitous in Hollywood movies, appearing on the wrists of stars of the big screen for all to see. The iconic Ventura watch appeared in the seminal classic Blue Hawaii on the wrist of Elvis Presley, and even today, Hamilton holds its own in Hollywood – a commemorative Hamilton watch was designed for and appeared in Cristopher Nolan’s Tenet in 2020. Hamilton watches have also been recommended in some of our “best of” lists amongst the best automatic watches for men under $500 and the most iconic chronographs

With a range of Hamilton ladies’ watches and Hamilton men’s watches available, from executive Broadway and American Classic styles to highly technical Khaki Navy pieces and aviator’s chronometers, there truly is a Hamilton watch to suit everyone. Matching artisan-level craftsmanship with a broad range of styles, Hamilton’s watches are enduring timekeepers. Read on to find out which of their sterling collection is the right choice for you. 

Are Hamilton Watches good?

Yes! Make no mistake, while often eye-catching and supremely stylish, Hamilton’s watches are also some of the most efficient, reliable, and hard-wearing watches a person could find. With classic collections constantly re-examined and improved for the modern era, Hamilton offers a wide variety of strong staples, from naval chronometers to khaki military watches to contemporary automatic and Quartz movement watches. 

Are Hamilton Watches Collectible?

Hamilton’s classic military collections, including Khaki Aviation and Khaki Navy, have been meticulously reworked for the modern world. Hamilton has preserved their hard-wearing styles and excellent functionality whilst adapting to new technologies and styles. As such, these pieces are perennially relevant and always sought out by collectors. Rare Hamilton watches are also highly sought after, from vintage Venturas to the New York Yankees’ celebratory Piping Rock. Simultaneously, unsuspecting modern styles can become hot commodities as they come in and out of production cycles.  

What Movements do Hamilton Watches use?

Making the most of their Swiss roots, Hamilton employs luxury Swiss ETA movements in many of their watches. Time-tested and subject to rigorous quality control measures, ETA movements are a popular choice for many large-scale watch manufacturers. Hamilton uses a variety of Quartz, automatic, and mechanical ETA movements in their various collections. To find out which watch uses witch specific movement type, consult the specifications attached.

The Hamilton Collections

Hamilton currently has seven primary collections. They embody the spirit and heritage of the company’s watchmaking history and offer modern designs and classic dial layouts. While seven groups of distinct timepieces are considered somewhat mid-sized by current watch brand standards, there’s enough variety to satisfy every type of watch collector, wearer or gift giver. Below is a handy guide to each Hamilton collection and the kind of timepieces you can expect to find. 

The Khaki Aviation Collection is a truly classic selection of watches originating from Hamilton’s pioneering 1918 aviation gear, designed to keep the United States’ airborne postal system running on time. Nowadays, the perfect choice for both professional pilots and aspiring globetrotters; these watches are an ace choice for both function and form.

When you’re moving from country to country, it’s easy to be thrown off guard by currency and unit conversion, but the Converter Auto GMT’s handy bezel will help you to make calculations at a rapid pace. The inclusion of a GMT timing function means you’ll never struggle to keep track of your time zone, while the slim calf leather strap keeps the watch light and gentle on the wrist.

If you’re after something with a more metropolitan style, the Chrono Quartz and X-Wind Day Date Auto present you with two sides of a stainless steel coin. The Quartz is a slick Hamilton Khaki watch with a chronometer and date ticker, while the X-Wind is fully featured with conversion dials, a day and date ticker, and large luminous numerals for night-time vision.

Sometimes a blend of styles is the way to go, and the Pilot Day Date Auto combines a minimalist day-date function with luminescent numerals on an otherwise understated piece. It’s a perfect design for both high-flying and fine dining – marrying several of the Khaki’s excellent features into one great watch.

Style: Military and professional aviation

Features: 

  • Chronographs
  • GMT functions
  • Day date tickers

Pricing: $592 – $3379

Another military-based collection inspired by Hamilton’s World War One timepieces, Khaki Hamilton Field watches were a staple purchase for any American soldier shipping out in 1914. They marked a distinct transition from Hamilton pocket watches to wristwatches in their production line. When World War Two demanded a vast number of infantrymen, Hamilton stepped up once again and shifted production from consumer models to a pure military focus.

These watches not only guided many a man safely through long hours on the battlefield but have also evolved over the years into one of the most robust watches on the modern market. Ideal for sportsmen and those seeking action in the great outdoors, the Khaki Field Mechanical, available in stainless steel or leather strap variants, is one of the most durable watches you’ll find on the market today.

The Mechanical model uses hand-winding for supreme reliability and removes the need to rely on batteries while on long treks or facing the harshness of the elements. Thanks to hard-wearing materials and luminescent numerals, it’s sure to keep you right on track no matter the length of your journey.

Meanwhile, the Khaki Field’s automatic variants such as the Auto Chrono and classic Auto once again ditch the use of a battery in favour of a movement-powered mechanism. By converting your wrists’ kinetic energy into electricity while on the go, the Auto models extend the length of battery power that hand-winding provides. The Auto Chrono is water-resistant and uses automatic calibre timing, while the classic Auto has a handy date ticker and up to eighty hours of power reserve. Both are great all-rounders for those with active lifestyles.

Style: Military, Sports, and Outdoors

Features: 

  • Hand-winding
  • Automatic movements
  • Weather resistance

Pricing: $428 – $1991

Having been made famous in 1961 when the king of rock and roll himself donned this classic in Blue Hawaii, Presley’s favourite, the Hamilton Ventura, is still an unconventional classic to this day. A pioneering Hamilton mechanical watch with a triangular face and electrical movement, the Ventura combines traditional styles with a cutting-edge silhouette that is both striking and seamlessly cool. 

Using an evolved design of the original 1957 model, the Quartz Ventura is a battery-powered, stainless steel watch with stylized markers in place of numerals and a distinct tri-tier bezel. Blended with a grained calf leather strap, this is a timeless piece available in both men’s and women’s sizes. Both an icon and a collector’s item, the Quartz Ventura is also available as the Chrono Quartz, sporting a blended chronometer with an adapted numeral design to match.

While the Quartz models utilize minute quartz crystals to generate electricity, the Ventura Auto models employ the same technology found in the Khaki collections, using the wrist’s natural motion to assist the internal battery. The Ventura Auto standard also contains a glass window to provide a glimpse at the sophisticated movement within, whilst the Elvis80 Auto modernizes the 1957 classic with a PVD coated, stainless steel case, within which lie the sapphires which facilitate the automatic movement. 

Style: Iconic 1960s Triangular Profile

Features: 

  • Quartz and Automatic movements
  • 80-hour power reserve
  • Stylized numerals

Pricing: $784 – $1995

Whilst the classics are often hard to beat, Hamilton has somehow managed to produce a range of modern watches equal to the titans of old. The Jazzmaster collection is a stunning suite of contemporary watches blending fine craftsmanship with daring innovations and a plethora of traditional, time-tested touches.

The Hamilton Jazzmaster AutoChrono is one such blend of the old and the new, a sophisticated Hamilton men’s watch that matches modernity with unfailing staples. Utilizing an automatic movement with a 60-hour power reserve, this is the perfect watch for a long weekend in the city or an exhaustive series of workdays.

The Viewmatic Skeleton Lady Auto and Open Heart Auto, meanwhile, provide two utterly different styles of Hamilton women’s watches, each showcasing different elements of Hamilton’s unique approach to design. The Viewmatic reveals the watch’s intricate movement using a skeletonized dial, aligning stainless steel bezels with a mother of pearl face for a youthful aesthetic of ageless charm. 

Meanwhile, the Open Heart combines a tasteful white leather calf strap with four diamond indexes on a flower-design mother of pearl watch face for an altogether graceful companion to any lady’s wrist. Hamilton watch straps are always designed with elegant lines and silhouettes, but here they are especially well-designed.

Style: Contemporary, Modern, Decorative materials

Features: 

  • Exposed movements
  • Aesthetic focus
  • Dynamic numeral alternatives

Pricing: $1122 – $2121

Though Hamilton has since relocated to Switzerland since initially manufacturing their watches in the U.S.A, the Swiss watchmaker’s storied American history is evident in all of their modern designs. The company’s technological and stylistic innovations in their tenure in the States are showcased in their American Classic collection.

Combining vintage styles with heritage features, the Intra-Matic Auto a statement piece amongst the collection, with a two-tone cream and black colorway and 80-hour power reserve. The Hamilton automatic watch movement within is also equipped with anti-magnetic alloy to prevent interference with the delicate internal mechanisms. The Auto’s flashier brother, the Intra-Matic Auto Chrono, swaps out calf leather for an executive stainless steel mesh wrist strap.

Adding another unique form-factor to the roster, the Hamilton Boulton Small Second Quartz is a rectangular quartz movement watch first designed in 1940. Today, the classic American style is preserved with Roman numerals, a discreet second ticker, and a vintage buckled leather strap. This isn’t just a holdover from the past, however. The PSR Digital Quartz elevates the original to a whole new level of modern design. 

A re-imagining of the classic 1970s Hamilton Pulsar, the PSR uses a hybrid digital display for a space-age aesthetic. With no caliber to speak of, this is a one-battery: one-year solution. With the moon landings set to restart in the next few years, this astronautical favourite is sure to make a strong comeback.

Style: Classic styles, Modern interpretations, Versatile technologies

Features: 

  • Magnetic resistance
  • Roman numerals
  • Hybrid displays 

Pricing: $496 – $3949

Another classic developed throughout the world wars in service of the United States military; the Khaki Navy collection encompasses maritime endeavours of every kind. Perfect for mariners, sailors, and divers navigating the seven seas, these ocean-bound timekeeping pieces are waterproof, highly wearable, and made to the most stringent technical specifications.

Implementing highly sought-after technologies, including exterior PVD waterproofing treatments and convex sapphire movement crystals, the BeLOWZERO 1000m Auto is extremely pressure-resistant, with a depth rating of up to 100 bar. The generous automatic 42-hour power reserve means you’ll be ready for any ocean voyage. If you’re looking for something on the cheaper end of the spectrum, you won’t do much better than the Scuba Auto variant.

A beach lover’s best friend, the Scuba Auto is a Hamilton dive watch that includes an 80-hour power reserve for all your lounging in the sun, and when it’s time to dive below, a 10 bar resistance will provide you with ample protection in the shallows and reefs. The Scuba Auto comes in an ocean blue sports style, though if you prefer a working man’s style, the Frogman Auto is a perfect alternative.

The Frogman is a classic adapted from an original 1940s military design and is equipped with a dial-lock to keep your timekeeping accurate even in the roughest of waves, along with luminescent numerals for underwater visibility. And for those who intend to stay on top of the water rather than in it, the Pioneer Auto Chrono is an automatic watch. It’s equipped with chronometers and a date ticker, an excellent choice for seafarers everywhere. 

Style: Military Naval and Civilian Mariner

Features: 

  • Chronometers
  • Tachymeters
  • Luminescent numerals
  • Depth protection

Pricing: $558 – $3046

While the American Classics contain an excellent bevy of options, sometimes a European approach is the way to go. Hamilton has the best of both worlds, with a broad collection of sophisticated Swiss watches on their roster. The Broadway Collection includes various movement and colour options designed for city-goers and style-conscious men, using clean metal finishes and refined faces for simplistic but striking designs.

The Broadway Day Date Auto is a prime example of this uniquely Swiss approach. With a choice of straps, it’s perfect for those seeking a unique watch, and with both water resistance and a stainless steel surface, it’s sure to survive a plethora of atmospheric conditions, from mountains to market squares. The practical 80-hour power reserve makes the auto more than a match for a long weekend of work or leisure. The blue and emerald green colorway is sure to catch the attention of wandering eyes and watch enthusiasts alike.

The Broadway GMT, meanwhile, is a travel watch made for the inter-continental man of the world. With an adjustable bezel equipped with 24 different city destinations and a 24-hour display with an 80-hour power reserve, this is a limited edition watch with a limitless supply of energy. An urban classic made new, the Broadway GMT pairs a ceramic bezel with a stainless steel casing and strap for a polished and practical look. Utilizing a brand new H-14 automatic movement, this is a futureproof watch that’ll never leave you lagging behind. 

Style: Swiss European styles with a modern aesthetic

Features: 

  • Automatic and Quartz models
  • Multi-destination GMT settings
  • Innovative H-14 automatic movement

Pricing: $1145 – $1920