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Unlike Omega, no astronauts ever walked on the Moon wearing a chronograph by Hamilton. Unlike Heuer, whose chronographs were favored by Formula 1 drivers like Jo Siffert and Jochen Rindt, no one posed pensively in cigarette ads with a Hamilton chronograph on their wrists. Instead, Hamilton's history is one of quiet perseverance, as a producer of rugged military watches that saw combat in Vietnam, distinctive asymmetrical cases that are works of modern art, and sporty chronographs that capture the spirit of the 60s though they won no awards and had no flashy endorsements.
In the 1950s and 1960s, the manufacture released a plethora of watches with distinctive designs that are evocative of the period. When you take into account that all this was achieved in the face of looming financial crisis, it's remarkable that they managed to soldier on as long as they did. Pressure from Swiss manufactures had ramped up continually in the years following the Second World War, when Swiss brands like Longines and Jaeger-LeCoultre (under their subsidiaries Wittnauer and LeCoultre) flooded the U.S. market with high-end and inexpensive watches.
By the 1960s, the once-dominant company from Pennsylvania--a powerhouse, a world-leader in the realm of railroad chronometers, saving countless lives--was losing footing on its own turf.
Efforts in the 1960s to release electric watches in concert with Japanese firm Ricoh (of which Hamilton owned 60%) proved no match against the Seiko Astron. The partnership was dissolved in 1965, and the remaining stock was sold in the States under the Vantage line. However, Hamilton's next partnership--with Buren of Switzerland--led to the development of the Chrono-matic movement, which saw use by both Hamilton and Heuer.
Having closed the Lancaster, PA factory out of which the manufacture had operated since the 1890s, Hamilton relocated production to the Buren factory in Switzerland. There, from 1969 to the 1970s, all Hamilton watches were Swiss-made. But this newfound success was not to last, as the partnership with Buren was dissolved in 1972 and the factory liquidated.
By 1974, Hamilton would be absorbed under the umbrella of SIHH, now the Swatch Group.
The watches Hamilton produced during this period, like this chronograph featured here, are lingering testaments to the way the brand had its thumb on the zeitgeist of the 1960s. With lugs as sharp as its looks and a sturdy steel case, it captures the look and feel of the Heuer Carrera, but with a flair all its own. Though chronographs of this type are often called "poor man's Heuers" due to their similarity to Carreras, this Hammy has enough going on for it to be collectible in its own right, a worthy addition to any collection.
Stainless steel case is approximately 36mm (excluding crown). Valjoux Calibre 7736 Manually-Wound Chronograph Movement. Circa 1960s.
Overall Condition: Stainless steel case is in very good condition with sharp lugs and minor signs of use and wear consistent with age. Dial is likewise in very good condition, showing some signs of age, including some darkening on the outer edges of the chronograph registers. Luminescent elements of the the hour markers and hands have aged to a fine even patina over time. Hamilton crown. Hamilton case back shows shows some signs of use and wear but is in otherwise good condition.
Includes one 19mm black perforated leather rally strap.