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IHC Life Member
Rene Rondeau wrote a very interesting article about the Hamilton Sherwood "wood dial" watches, which was published in the June 1991 Bulletin. This article is reprinted in his must-have book for Hamilton Fan's: Hamilton Wristwatches, A Collectors Guide.
Rene shines a light on these very interesting, yet largely unknown Hamilton's. Hamilton Watch Company of Lancaster Pennsylvania were long know for the pocket watches they produced, the quality of the product, and the reliability of the time-keeping. In wrist watches, they produced a vast array of interesting styles and designs. They also produced the first "electric watch", the Hamilton Ventura, in 1957. Many of the electrics tested the limits of conventional watch design (Note the Ventura, Vega, Altair, and Everest).
Flush with confidence and success, designers at Hamilton thought they found the next great idea: The Wooden Dial. The styling department worked hard to find a way to produce the thin wood dials, experimented with different types of wood, and eventually came up with a variety of Sherwood "Wood Dial" Watches. The Plan failed. It was a marketing flop.
Quoting Rene "These Sherwood watches had a lot going for them. They were innovative, striking, and original, and were available in a range of prices and styles in both solid gold and gold-filled cases. Hamilton catalogued them for three years and salesmen did their best to promote these interesting new styles to jewelers. But no one seemed to care, and they turned out to be a marketing failure".
Records suggest that few were sold, and as a result, many collectors are unfamiliar with these wrrist watches. Attached is a photograph of my favorite Sherwood, and the only one in my collection, the Sherwood R. This is a 14K gold watch, with the 22 Jewel 770 movement. Hamilton used existing cases for the Sherwood line, this one being the "Sir Echo" from the mid 1950's. Dial is NOS, and recently came from the left-over stock of John Gelson, past president of Hamilton Watch Company. My experience is that people either really like, or really dislike these watches. If you have an opinion, or have a picture to share, please, by all means, share!
|Watch Repair Expert|
Hamilton wasn't the only company to think that wooden watch dials was a good idea. Rolex revived the idea a few years ago, and offered a variety of exotic wooden dials on some of their "President" models.
Like the Hamiltons, the Rolex wooden dials were also a marketing failure. The ones I've seen have been walnut (like the Hamilton above), but with years of exposure to sunlight, the color in them fades, and the varnish tends to peel.
I'm sure it wasn't a coincidence that the "President" models most frequently seen with the wooden dials, also have "bark finish" bezels and bracelets. Those might turn out to be collector's items someday, but they're not very popular right now.
Is it just me, or is there something about wooden watch dials that's reminiscent of a "woody" station wagon?
President, NAWCC Chapter #62
North Little Rock, Arkansas
IHC Charter Member 49
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