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Hamilton: Friend to the Stars

Founded in 1892 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Hamilton is one of those companies whose growth and industrial expertise worried Swiss watchmaking firms, who feared they would find it difficult to enter the American market. Their anxieties were justified. Hamilton turned precision into a formidable weapon and applied intelligent pricing to satisfy the expectations of consumers keen on expressing their preference for American products.

As a result, at the start of the twentieth century, the company won a contact to supply the U.S. military. Its presence in the trenches further strengthened America’s affection for the creative, visionary brand, which came up with some of the most dynamic designs of the 1940s. To back the nations effort during World War II, the company put its civil watchmaking production on hold and concentrated on manufacturing watches and chronographs for GIs, along with a range of on board instruments. In the end, it produced more than 10,000 marine chronometers and over a million watches, which are still prized by collectors for their reliability and the individual heroism they convey. Today the Khaki Officer’s Edition is the direct descendant of the Hamilton hack, a legendary watch that is almost impossible to find.

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Hamilton is also famous for its great watchmaking innovation in Ventura, launched in 1957- a futuristically styled watch whose extremely accurate movement was powered by a battery rather than a spring. Elvis Presley wore one in the 1961 movie Blue Hawaii. The modern age had begun and Hamilton – now part of the Swatch Group- played a major role in this new dawn. In 1966, at the request of Stanley Kubrick, it designed the X-01 for his movie 2001: A Space Odyssey.

This revolutionary development was following in 1970 by the launch of the Pulsar, the first LED watch and the inspiration for the more recent MIB, seen in the movie Men in Black. The brand’s popularity among actors – especially American artists- is striking.

Today, with more than 300 movies to its name, Hamilton is Hollywood’s star watch. This certainly has a lot to do with the fact that the historic brand is American. Given the choice, even in the world of watches, patriotic appeal coupled with a nod to collectors does not go amiss.

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