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Hamilton Furniture

In an era when the safety of America’s bustling railroads absolutely depended on accurate timepieces for its conductors, watchmaker Hamilton pioneered cutting-edge, impossibly precise watches in a complex that spanned one square city block of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, during the late 19th century.

As railroad tracks were laid across the United States and steam locomotives began traversing vast distances, the American railroad system ran into a problem. Back then, time was not standardized across the country. Therefore, in 1883, the railroad companies established the four time zones as we know them today. But, despite setting these zones, train conductors were not always synchronized, leading to deadly accidents on the railroads.

Enter watchmaker Hamilton, founded in 1892. Railway workers would be required to wear a pocket watch, as the timepieces were responsible for keeping conductors on schedule, and the watchmaking industry — and early American pocket-watch manufacturers such as Hamilton, Elgin National Watch Company and the Waltham Watch Company — benefitted. Hamilton’s pocket watches were extremely alluring to train conductors, who began buying them en masse. The East Coast company’s timepieces eventually earned the moniker “The Watch of Railroad Accuracy.”

Hamilton transitioned from pocket watches to wristwatches in 1914, as it supplied timepieces to American troops fighting in World War I. Wristwatches, naturally, were more convenient to wear and use in battle. The new style of watch was also appealing to aviators, and Hamilton aeronautical watches became all the rage among pilots, specifically those flying for the new U.S. Airmail service.

The general public’s interest in Hamilton watches grew rapidly in the 1920s. Legendary polar explorer Admiral Richard E. Byrd timed his historic flights over glaciers and chunks of sea ice with a Hamilton pocket watch in the late 1920s, and a Hamilton timepiece used by Byrd during these expeditions went on display in 2018 at the National Watch & Clock Museum.

Hamilton’s Piping Rock watch, an Art Deco–inspired design that featured elegant Roman numerals set in black for the hour markers, made its debut in 1928 and was gifted to the New York Yankees to celebrate their World Series win that year. The model was also featured in the film Shanghai Express alongside the brand’s Flintridge watch, further expanding Hamilton’s popularity. (Hamilton watches can also be seen in the films The Frogmen, Blue Hawaii, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Men in Black.)

In the second half of the 20th century, Hamilton became well known for several innovations: It developed the first-ever battery-operated electric watch, the Ventura, in 1957, as well as the first-ever digital wristwatch, the Hamilton Pulsar Time Computer, in 1970. Three years later, superspy and watch enthusiast James Bond donned a Pulsar in Live and Let Die.

Today, the company is part of the Swatch Group, and its headquarters and production facilities relocated from Pennsylvania to Switzerland in 2003.

Find vintage Hamilton watches and pocket watches on 1stDibs.

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Creator: Hamilton
1920s Antique Hamilton Fahys 912 Pocket Watch 14k Gold Filled 17 Jewels Orig Box
By Hamilton
Located in Dayton, OH
Antique 1920’s 14K white gold filled mechanical railroad pocket watch by Hamilton Watch Company of Lancaster, PA, featuring an art deco foliate design around the sides and an embosse...
Category

1920s Art Deco Vintage Hamilton Furniture

Materials

Metal, Gold

Donald Deskey Bar Cabinet for Hamilton Company
By Hamilton, Donald Deskey
Located in Van Nuys, CA
Streamline Art Deco medical cabinet doubles as a dry bar by the Hamilton company of Milwaukee designed by Donald Deskey. Cabinet features two doors on top and bottom with two pull-ou...
Category

1930s American Art Deco Vintage Hamilton Furniture

Materials

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Hamilton "Sedgman" 14-Karat Gold Wristwatch
By Hamilton
Located in Van Nuys, CA
Hamilton "Sedgman" men's wristwatch from 1952 in solid 14-karat yellow gold case. Movement is hand wound caliber 748 with 18 jewels, the dial is has applied numerals markers in gold ...
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1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Hamilton Furniture

Materials

Gold

18 Carat Gold Ladies Hamilton Watch
By Hamilton
Located in Hamilton, Ontario
Women's 18 carat gold watch and band by Hamilton Watch company. Fully serviced and working. Measures: Weight 39.6 grams.
Category

20th Century Hamilton Furniture

Materials

Gold

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Hamilton furniture for sale on 1stDibs

Hamilton furniture is available on 1stDibs for sale. These distinctive objects are frequently made of metal and designed with extraordinary care. There are many options in our Hamilton collection of furniture, although brown editions of this piece are particularly popular. In-stock we have 5 vintage editions of these items, while there is also 0 modern edition to choose from. Many original furniture by Hamilton was created in the Modern style in the United States during the 20th century. If you’re looking for additional options, many customers also consider furniture from Dietzgen, New Britain Machine Company and Anco Bilt. Prices for Hamilton furniture can vary depending on size, time period and other attributes. Price for these items starts at $275 and tops out at $5,900, while pieces like these can sell for $1,450 on average.

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Questions About Hamilton Furniture
  • 1stDibs ExpertApril 5, 2022
    The Hamilton 992B Railroad Watch was first produced in November, 1940, nine years after design and research began. The 992B featured brand-new technologies and was made with gold, steel and gilt parts and the newly designed Elinvar Extra hairspring. The last Hamilton 992B was sold in 1969. Shop Hamilton 992B Railroad Watches from top sellers worldwide on 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertApril 5, 2022
    To open a Hamilton pocket watch, take it to a reputable watch repair shop. Experts advise against opening antique pocket watches on your own because special tools are necessary to avoid damaging the timepieces. On 1stDibs, shop a collection of Hamilton pocket watches.
  • 1stDibs ExpertApril 5, 2022
    Hamilton's Railway Special pocket watch was launched in 1940 and remained in production for the next two decades. At the time, it was marketed as the most accurate railroad watch available. Shop a collection of vintage and contemporary Hamilton timepieces from some of the world's top sellers on 1stDibs.

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