Hamilton produced its first watch in 1893 and has produced some excellent watches throughout the years. The company started out in the United States but is now in Swiss hands. If you’re looking for a high-quality yet quite affordable watch then you’re likely to run into the Hamilton brand. However, are there watches any good?
Are Hamilton watches good? Yes, Hamilton watches are good. The company uses common but high-quality materials such as stainless steel and sapphire crystal to produce their watches. Furthermore their movements are all ETA-movements which are very reliable.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way it’s time to dive into a bit more detail. In this blog we’ll discuss everything that’s related to the quality of a Hamilton watch. From their use of materials and movements to their prodution processes and their perceived value in the market. At the end we’ll discuss a few Hamilton watches that are considered the best today. Let’s read on!
Why Are Hamilton Watches Good?
Let’s first see why Hamilton watches are good. We’ll do this based on five factors: use of materials, movements, innovations, reliability and price. Let’s start of with their use of materials.
Use Of Materials
The materials that are used to produce Hamilton watches are generally considered to be of very high-quality. Since Hamilton watches are considered mid-range watches you can expect common materials such as leather, stainless steel and nylon to be used for the strap.
Even though these are common materials they are still of very high-quality. However, if you’re looking for more exotic materials such as titanium, platinum or gold then you’ll most likely not find these with the Hamilton brand.
Besides the strap the case and bezel of the watch are normally made out of stainless steel. Furthermore the cover of the dial of the watch is made out of sapphire glass. This is generally considered to be the best material for this purpose. Reason being that it’s very scratch-resistant compared to the other options: mineral and acrylic glass.
Besides the high-quality materials that are used Hamilton is also praised for the wide variety of styles in which they sell their watches. Almost every model has several different materials and colors you can choose from. This makes that you’ll almost always find a watch which suits your taste.
When you look at the history of the company it becomes clear that ownership has changed a lot throughout the years. The company started out as an American company and also made in-house American movements up until 1969. After that the company finally became part of the Swatch Group which is the largest watch manufacturer in the world.
This change of ownership also means that the company doens’t produce their own movements anymore. Instead they use ETA-movements. ETA is also part of the Swatch group and it’s the largest manufacturer of quartz and automatic movements in the world.
Because of their strong bonds Hamilton and ETA have produced several movements that are specifically made for Hamilton watches. All these movements start with the letter H. Below you’ll find a list with the features of these movements:
|Name||Movement||Power Reserve (Hours)||Features|
|H-10||Automatic||80||Three hands, Date function|
|H-10-S||Automatic||80||Three hands, Skeletonized|
|H-12||Automatic||38||Three hands, Regulator|
|H-13||Automatic||80||Date, Power reserve indicator|
|H-14||Automatic||80||Date, GMT 24-hour|
|H-20||Automatic||38||Three hands, Skeletonized|
|H-21-Si||Automatic||60||Chronograph, Day-date, Chronometer|
|H-22||Automatic||38||Date, Small second function|
|H-30||Automatic||80||Three hands, Day-date|
|H-31||Automatic||60||Chronograph, Date, Quick date corrector|
|H-32||Automatic||38||Date, Small second function|
|H-40||Automatic||80||Three hands, Day-date|
|H-41-e||Quartz||N.A.||Chronograph, Worldtimer, GMT & Pilot chronograph, Daylight saving|
|H-50||Hand-winding||80||Three hands, with or without date function|
Throughout the years Hamilton has proven to be a brand that is extremely innovative when it comes down to design. As early as the 1920’s the brand has been selling watches that have different shapes and colors than the mainstream ones.
An example of this is the Piping Rock (left) which was first produced in 1928 and was created to celebrate the victory of the New York Yankees in the world series. The watch features a tonneau-shaped gold case. However, there most iconic design has to be the Ventura (right). This watch was designed by Richard Arbib and has been a collector favorite throughout the decades.
Besides daring designs the company also has some technological advancements under its belt. Its most notable exampel is the Hamilton Pulsar which was first introduced in 1972. The Pulsar is known as the first electronic watch that features a LED-display. Only 400 of these were ever produced and this makes them incredibly rare.
Luckily, innovation hasn’t stopped in the 70’s. Throughout the years Hamilton has proven to be a brand that tries to strive forward. These days the most unique selling point of their watches is that fact that many of them have an automatic 60 or 80 hour power reserve. Since most automatic watches have a 40 hour power reserve this is definitely noteworthy.
Also Hamilton produced the Khaki Aviation X-Wind which is specifically produced for pilots. This watch helps them calculate how crosswinds will affect their journey. Hamilton is the first brand ever to include this functionality in a watch.
In order to decide whether Hamilton watcher are good we’ll also have to take a look at their reliability. This is of course mainly covered by the warranty that Hamilton provides. In the case of a Hamilton watch you’ll get a 2-year limited warranty that covers material or manufacturing defects.
This means that you’re watch will be repaired or, if necessary, replaced free of charge. As with most brands your watch needs to be bought from a certified dealer in order to make use of the warranty.
The warranty does not cover:
- The life of the battery
- Normal wear and tear and aging
- Any damage on any part of the watch resulting from abnormal/abusive use, lack of care, negligence, accidents (knocks, dents, crushing, broken crystal, etc.) and incorrect use of the watch
- Problems that occur because the watch has been handled by an unauthorized person.
Besides their warranty Hamilton watches are also considered to be very reliable in general. This means that if the warranty runs out your Hamilton watch is still very likely to keep working for a very long time.
This is emphasized by the fact that there are many vintage Hamilton watches (25+ years old) that still work perfectly fine. Of course a watch will only achieve this with proper servicing but it does show Hamilton watches are very reliable.
The final reason why Hamilton watches are considered to be good watches is because of the amount of value they offer compared to the amount of money you spend on them. Most Hamilton watches are sold between $500 – $2.200 which makes them a mid-range watch.
However that’s a very good price if you see what you get. Hamilton is a brand with a lot of history, they use high-quality materials and have very interesting designs. The watches are very reliable and respected within the watch community.
Finally, their movements may not be produced in-house but ETA is a very good movement maker and the movements that are produced for Hamilton watches are of very good quality. In general Hamilton watches are either considered to be underpriced or right on point with their price tag.
Are Hamilton Watches Considered Luxury?
No, Hamilton watches aren’t considered to be luxury watches. As was already said Hamilton is a mid-range brand within the Swatch Group. Therefore, it’s considered to be on par with brands such as Certina and Tissot. To read more about the quality of Tissot watches you can read this article that I wrote earlier: Are Tissot Watches Good?.
There are a few good reasons as to why Hamilton isn’t considered a luxury brand. First of all there’s the fact that Hamilton watches almost never use exoctic materials such as gold, titanium, platinum, diamons or jewels. Since the company only uses common materials their watches are of very good quality but they aren’t very exotic.
Secondly there’s the fact that the movement of Hamilton watches aren’t made in-house. Since Hamilton uses ETA-movements their watches have very little craftsmanship. This takes away from the prestige of the Hamilton brand and therefore these watches aren’t considered a luxury. Brand such as Omega, Rolex, Blancpain and Breguet do make their own movements and therefore they are way higher up on the luxury scale.
Are Hamilton Watches Swiss Made?
Yes, Hamilton watches are indeed Swiss made. This means that at least 60% of manufacturing costs of a Hamilton watch are generated in Switzerland. Since the company was taken over by Swatch it started producing it’s watches in Bienne, Switzerland.
As stated 60% of the costs of a Hamilton watch has been generated in Switzerland. However, this still means that other parts of the watch can be manufactured elsewhere in the world. In the case of Hamilton it is clear that some of their parts are produced in countries such as China and Thailand. However, their movements are always produced in Switzerland.
In their marketing communication Hamilton also has an emphasize on their American heritage. Please note that the company was originally American but hasn’t been for many decades. However, as Hamilton puts it themselves they: “produce Swiss watches with an American spirit”.
Will Hamilton Watches Hold Value?
No, Hamilton watches won’t hold their value. There are numerous reasons for this so let’s discuss them one by one. First off is the fact that Hamilton isn’t a luxury brand. Normally only luxury watches have a chance of holding their value in the long run.
Besides that Hamilton isn’t considered a luxury there’s also the fact that watches in general aren’t very good at holding their value. As with anything else that you buy for your own consumption you can expect it to drop in value.
Watches generally lose about 10-20% per year in the first three years of ownership. After that the drop of tends to come to a slow halt. Furthermore, it’s also not very likely that a Hamilton watch will increase in value over the long run because, again, they aren’t really a luxury.
If you are looking for a Hamilton watch that holds its value then it’s best to l ook into vintage Hamilton watches. Reason being that these watches have already lost their 30-60% of value and they are much better in keeping their value because of this. Also it’s best to buy limited edition or special edition watches since these are more collectible (and therefore hold their value better).
Are Hamilton Watches Worth It?
Whether or not Hamilton watches are worth it totally depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for a watch with history that is built of quality materials and has some daring design then a Hamilton watch may be a very good pick.
If you’re looking for a very affordable watch or if you’re looking for a watch that has a lot of prestige than Hamilton most likely isn’t going to be your best bet. If you’re looking for affordable watches Casio and Seiko are better options. On the higher end there are ofcourse Omega’s, Grand Seiko’s and other luxury brands.
In the end it’s best to buy a watch because it fits your personal taste and style. If a Hamilton watch does this for you then it’s certainly worth it.
A Review Of Different Hamilton Models
Now that you know that Hamilton watches are indeed good quality watches it’s time to see which ones actually deserve the most attention. Below I’ve compiled a list of Hamilton watches that provide good value for the price at which they are sold.
1. Hamilton Khaki King (H64455533)
This is definitely one of Hamiltons’ most popular watches these days. The Khaki King has a 40mm stainless steel case which is attached to a genuine, brown leather strap. The dial of the watch is protected by anti-reflective sapphire which is the best material that can be used to protect the dial.
Speaking of the dial, this element features a day-date display at the 12’o clock mark. Furthermore it has sword-shaped hands and a 24-hour time markers on the inner dial. The hands of the watch are powered by an automatic, self-winding movement which means you won’t have to wind the watch yourself as long as you wear it regularly. Price wise you’re looking at $550.
2. Hamilton Jazzmaster Thinline (H38511553)
The Jazzmaster Thinline is probably one of your best picks if you’re looking for a dress watch. With it’s 42mm stainless steel case that is also remarkably thin the watch is indeed a lot more subtle than the previous Khaki King. Another positive feature of this watch is that the dial is more beautiful than pictures will make you believe.
As with any dress watch the stainless steel case is attached to a brown croco-embossed leather strap that closes with a pin buckle. The dial of the watch feature a date display at the 6’o clock mark and is protected by anti-reflective sapphire glass.
For the movement of the watch you can either pick a swiss quartz one or an automatic one. Both movements are made by ETA but as you can expect, the quartz one is a lot more affordable. This one you can pick up for around $340 while the automatic one will set you back between $550 – $650.
3. Hamilton Ventura Elvis 80 (H24551131)
Finally there’s the iconic Ventura watch. This model in particular is called the Elvis 80. It was made in honor of what would have been Elvis’ 80th birthday and it therefore also features an 80 hour power reserve (at least the automatic ones do).
The watch features a stianless steel case and bracelet. Furthermore the dial is covered by anti-reflective sapphire glass just like the previous watches on this list. Of course the most stunning element abou this watch is its design which hasn’t changed a lot since its first creation in the 50’s.
If you want a Ventura you can either opt to go for the quartz or automatic movement. This one in particular is a Swiss quartz model and therefore is rather ”affordable” at around $780. If you want an automatic Ventura expect to pay between $1.000 – $1.800 depending on the specific model you want.