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12 top Hamiltons to own "Click" to Login or Register 
Wristwatch Expert

Hello all:

I am considering a column for the Bulletin tentatively titled "The Magnificent Dozen" of the 12 top models (mechanical or electric) that every Hamilton collector should aspire to own. I would like to conduct a little non-scientific survey among members of Chapter 185 who consider themselves Hamilton wristwatch collectors or at least afficiandos. My only criteria is that the models in the survey should be attainable by the collector of modest to mid-level financial means. Sure, everybody would love to own a 14kt yellow gold Pinehurst. But with only 256 of them ever made (according to production records cited by Rene Rondeau) it would be a little difficult to acquire one! So here goes. In no particular order, my list would include:

1. Linwood (at 43mm, the longest Hamilton ever made)
2. Ventura (perhaps a little pricey, but attainable, and the first and perhaps most memorable of all the asymmetrical Hamilton electrics)
3. Contour (only solid -- i.e., non flexible lug -- driver watch)
4. Brooke (dramatic design and only "slant case" Hamilton ever made)
5. Piping Rock (quintessential Art Deco designed watch)
6. Rutlege (again, a bit pricey. But one of only two "regular production" platinum-cased watches)
7. Gordon (one of the few 18kt cased watches made - a big beautiful watch)
8. The Coin watch in gold filled (the last American made mechanical watch -- the end of an era)
9. Flight II (in my opinion, the most dramatic MECHANICAL asymmetrical model. Again, a bit pricey but attainable, unlike the Flight I)
10. Seckron (Hamilton's very famous duo-dial doctor's watch)
11. Coral Gold Wilshire (in my opinion, the most beautiful and dramatic of all the coral gold Hamiltons, which were only available for a few years)
12. World War II military watch -- either hack or small seconds (The watch that helped win the great war, and kept Hamilton in business during the war years)

OK, those are my picks. What are yours?

Posts: 84 | Location: Evansville, Wisconsin USA | Registered: April 30, 2005
Hamilton WW Expert

Picture of Gary Cole

This should prove to be an interesting topic. Bruce , you offer up some great reasoning and your choices cover the complete history of Hamilton strap watches. Of course my choices are slanted to my interests of pre war Hamilton's, but i will try to look at the entire spectrum of Hamilton's ( they really made watches after the war Eek)

Again in no order

1. 0-size - very tough to acquire, but Hamilton's first wristwatch for men
2. Oval - pure Hamilton
3. Square( Engraved )- another great deco styled watch
4. Tonneau - along with the Square and Oval representing the geometric named watches from the 20's
5. Piping Rock - have to have an enamel bezel represented and this is the most reasonable cost wise
6. Whitney - incredible design
7. Putnam - along with the Whitney , great Deco pieces
8. Perry - i believe an underappreciated style from the early 30's
9. 401 movement - again tough to find , but rectangular mvmnt help changed their styling in the early 30's
10. Linwood - long and sleek
11. Wilshire - Coral gold model
12. Pacer - electric representative

Honorable mention - Coin - round style, as well as Bruce's reasons
Posts: 61 | Location: Sarasota, Florida U.S.A. | Registered: May 30, 2004
IHC Life Member
Wristwatch Host
Picture of Tony Dukes
I am going to post my wish lists first for solid gold hamiltons---
1. Allison-1937
2. Bentley-1937
3. Berkshire-1953
4. Byrd-1930
5. Chatham-1953
6. Dorsey-1955
7. Foster-1939
8. Gilman-1937--My favorite
9. Lyle-1955
10. Richmond-1937
11. Roland-1955
12. Viscount-1955
Posts: 1953 | Location: Atlanta, Georgia in the U.S.A. | Registered: August 01, 2003
IHC Life Member
Picture of Roy New
Chaps, any chance to see pictures of the mentioned "Hamiltons!"

Timely regards.


"So mote it be!"
Posts: 463 | Location: London in the United Kingdom | Registered: January 11, 2006
IHC Life Member
Wristwatch Host
Picture of Tony Dukes
Hey Guys,
We need more input from you hamilton collectors.
Please share your input.
Posts: 1953 | Location: Atlanta, Georgia in the U.S.A. | Registered: August 01, 2003

While I'm not per se a Hamilton collector, I do appreciate them, and always have a few examples that I like. My list is based more on my personal attraction than on my knowledge of Hamilton history, but I think it's a fair sampling.

1. Cushion - 987, preferably in 14K.
2. Custer - so streamlined.
3. Wilshire - flex-lug coolness
4. Donald - classy, solid gold and available.
5. Greenwich - an inexpensive deco classic
6. Carlisle- (or Linwood, or Yorktown, which seems to be more easily available) all right at 43mm long
7. Pacer - no comment needed.
8. Seckron - not a Gruen, but nice, and less expensive.
9. Sutton (or Dodson)- tubular lugs.
10. Ross in coral gold-filled - a pink representative, probably the one I see most frequently.
11. Bentley - rare and expensive, but WOW!
12. Chevy Chase - a representative deco ladies model with 989 movement.

And if you're stretching the budget, I'd also include a Coronado or Spur, and a Ventura and...


Posts: 267 | Location: Huntsville, Alabama USA | Registered: December 12, 2005
IHC Member 500
Wristwatch Expert
Picture of René Rondeau
I'll resist the temptation to list 12 electric watches....

My top list focuses mainly on historical importance or interest:

-- O-size: the first Hamilton wristwatch (thanks to Bryan Girourd and Will Roseman for that great bit of research!)

-- Spur: an incredible combination of classic art deco and modern asymmetry

-- Stanley: the most attainable of the 401 series watches, based on the Illinois 207. A stopgap measure to launch a rectangular movement while the Hamilton 980/982 was still in development.

-- Bentley: classic 1930s rectangular styling with an added bit of inspired artistic expression

-- Rutledge: a platinum watch at a very high price launched during the depth of the depression.

-- Brock in 14K coral gold: a personal favorite, understated elegance, beautiful color, and short-lived production.

-- WWII Ordnance watch: a fine artifact of Hamilton's patriotic wartime work.

-- Ventura: the first electric watch, a major achievement in horological history and a styling revolution at the same time.

-- Altair: the ultimate in asymmetric styling, as over-the-top as it gets. Also a poignant testament to the electric series -- a beautifully conceived but fundamentally flawed movement design inside a beautifully styled but fundamentally weak case (with lugs prone to breakage).

-- Sherwood M: another styling first, but a collosal failure in the market. It wasn't popular in 1961 but it's beautiful today.

-- Odyssee 2001: a turning point of sorts, late 1950s asymmetric sensibility meets 1970s excess. A massive, heavy, but beautiful watch.

-- "Coin Watch": The end of the line for the Hamilton factory, the last American-made movement mated to a cheap, unattractive dial. A sad close to a great American watchmaking story.
Posts: 183 | Location: Corte Madera, California USA | Registered: March 31, 2005
Wristwatch Expert
IHC Life Member
Picture of William J. Hansen, Ph.D.
Wow! This is so much fun.

I will ignore the price limit and go for the 12 Top Hamilton's to own:

1. The Solid Gold Oval, ideally with the engraved bezel. One of the most beautiful of all the Hamilton watches. Beautiful, simple design, great size, a classic beauty.

2. The Spur. One of the 3 enamel bezel Hamilton watches. Small, but remarkable.

3. Pinehurst. A cushion shape, with amazing flair. More than the Meadowbrook or Oakmont, the Pinehurst is delicious.

4. Glendale. Small, dainty. Looks like a ladies watch, but with only 97 made in yellow gold, a tremendous rarity and amazing design.

5. 18K Rectangular. A large beautiful watch, the Rectangular was the first Hamilton made in 18K gold. It was made in a hand made, hand etched case, with 3 parts hinged together. Even the movement holder is engraved. Extraordinary.

6. Flintridge. A hunter-case wristwatch that is both extremely rare and very unusual. It takes two hands to check the time with the Flintridge.

7. Ventura. The watch of the Future. Amazing design, as fresh today as it was on January 3, 1957. Still available for less than any mentioned above.

8. Sherwood Wood Dial: The Sherwood M is fantastic, but I also love the round one in the Sir Echo Case. A huge failure, perhaps way ahead of its time.

9. Flight I. The watch for the Jetson Generation. Looks Electric, but isn't. Fantastic in every way.

10. Vega. A great Electric watch with a stunning design and while rare, can still be found.

11. Putnam. A gold filled art deco beauty with severe steps on the sides of the case. A beauty that can be found for under $500.

12. A Rene Rondeau restored Hamilton. From the most common Hamilton to the greatest Rarity, Rene can bring a Hamilton back to as close as original condition as any watchmaker alive.

Bill Hansen
IHC# 198
Life Member# 17
Posts: 813 | Location: Cincinnati, Ohio USA | Registered: January 22, 2003
Hamilton WW Expert
IHC Life Member
In keeping with Bruce’s financial criteria, here are my suggested picks based on reasonableness of price and attainability. I concentrate on earlier Hamilton’s so I’ve picked the ones I think are important from the era I most appreciate, 1917 – 1936.

1. Hamilton 0-sized Cushion or Round – $800 - $1,000 range
Hamilton’s first wristwatch that has everything going for it – it’s large, the movement is beautiful and it’s a classic design. Also, it has history – its Hamilton’s first wristwatch. If you want one Hamilton from every decade, you need this watch. (Renee, thanks for your kind comments).

2. Square Enamel - $600 - $900 range
Classic styling but with a flair. The contrasting black enamel makes this simple geometric shaped watch an exercise in sophistication. This scarce watch can still be found for a reasonable price (but like the Piping Rock, Coronado and Spur, keep your eye out for enamel condition - that’s the key).

3. Any Hamilton Two-tone - $1,200 to $10,000
Few wristwatches match the cache of a Hamilton Two-tone. All have a 14K solid white gold bezel and back with a 14K green gold center case. The contrast is stunning and some (look for Squares as Oval’s will cost a small fortune) can still be found without having to break the bank.

4. Oval - $1,100 - $5,000
The Oval is uniquely Hamilton – no other manufacturer made anything near it, nor as proportionally well. One of the true great vintages be it Hamilton or any other brand! Need I say more?

5. Meadowbrook - $975 - $1,200
Grace and style in a hand-made case, the Meadowbrook epitomizes everything Hamilton stands for – quality and expertise in movement (979 and 979-F) and case manufacture.

6. Piping Rock - $1,100 - $1,400
Instantly recognizable and a classic the very first day it was made. From its premium 19-jewel movement to its stunning case design, few watches have had so great an impact on the vintage watch collecting market.

7. Rutledge - $1,600 - $1,800
Platinum case and amazing design carries the day for the Rutledge. Classic and yet simultaneity modern, this model is the epitome of “smooth.”

8. Andrews - $1,100 - $1,800
The Andrews is categorized by its amazing series of tiered steps – bold, yet subtle enough to be unimposing. It is the very product of its era and brings to mind the great architecture of its day – The Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building. A classic example from the Explorer Series - it’s the only solid gold 401 that’s both attainable and reasonably priced.

9. Whitney - $200 - $400
This sweeping tri-stepped classic is another “uniquely Hamilton” design. The Whitney is decidedly masculine and yet simultaneously contains an air of grace. It is one of the few Hamilton’s in my collection that my wife likes to wear (of course I never let her).

10. Putnam - $285 - $350
It’s sharp and dramatic steps make this example an art deco classic. Few watches represent their respective era like the Putnam. The trick is to find one without too much wear to it’s dramatic steps (not an easy task).

11. Ardmore - $850 - $1,100
The first to use Hamilton’s famed rectangular 982 movement, the Ardmore represents what was to become Hamilton’s “rectangular era” which Hamilton is best known for (believe it or not, there are some who never knew Hamilton made anything other than rectangular wristwatches).

12. Seckron - $800 - $1,300
Another classic Hamilton issued in two styles (I prefer the earlier cased version with the 980A vs. the 980B). Common enough to find without pulling your hair out and more than reasonably priced. This “eye-catcher” also has “wear” problems – try and find one that’s not heavily brassed and stay away from examples that have “wear-through.”

There are so many more I can think of i.e., the Langley, Pierre and Oakmont and the list goes on and on. But if I had to pick twelve, according to Bruce’s criteria, there you have it.


Posts: 80 | Location: Carlstadt, New Jersey U.S.A. | Registered: January 23, 2005
After seeing the posts of Bill, Will, Rene, Cary, and others (ALL people whose expertise I admire greatly!!), my opinion does not mean much, but here goes:

1) Oval, engraved -- the only model which I still stop to look at almost every day.

2) Coronado -- a list of 12 only allows for one with an enamel bezel, and the little Spur would look silly on my body.

3) Ventura -- This almost 50 year old design still looks as great today.

4) Tonneau, 14K -- The gold filled ones are nice, but when you can find such a nicely designed watch for everyday wear, why not step up to the solid gold example at a reasonable price? This watch looks bigger than any other watch that measures as the same size... and the dials are so cool too.

5) Flight II -- I get more comments when I wear this than any other Hamilton. People think it is electric and sometimes I do too! I still laugh how not long after I got it I began cursing the electic movement a few minutes after pushing in the stem one morning...before I remembered I had not wound it! Smile I presume I'm not the first to have done this...

6) Rectangular... AMAZING!!

7) Vega -- love how the lugs and dial design are integrated, and it's large also!!

8) Brock -- my first Hamilton, and I'm sure many of you inherited a Brock from a relative also. Mine has consistently kept almost perfect time for 24 years.

9) Brooke -- Cool sleek design

10) Seckron -- ditto, and as Cary said, not a Gruen, but nice for less money -- and may keep better time! Smile

11) Altair -- Miro was huge when this watch came out, and this watch looks like a homage to the Surrealists. Perfectly flawed.

12) The list of 12 Hamiltons should include a 401 (Byrd maybe?), but I think I'll stick with an Illinois Consul. Once you have seen a Consul with a nice original silver pinstripe dial, you have to own it!! Though a Ritz, a Jolly Roger, Chieftain, or Rockcliffe (almost a 401!) are also in the running -- at least one of the 12 has to be an Illinois!! Smile

Posts: 141 | Location: Michigan in the USA | Registered: October 13, 2005
Wristwatch Expert

For those of you who might have been waiting for Bryan Girourard's response to this question, here it is. He emailed it to me after repeated urgings from me to be included in this discussion, and the article which will appear in the Bulletin. Here it is:


OK... I'll cap the price at $2,000 each and I decided that the watch had to have something unique about it with regard to design, movement, or case material. And I actually only came up with 11 watches. Most are self-explanatory:

1) Ventura
2) Piping Rock
3) Rutledge (the most attainable of Hamilton's platinum watches)
4) Brooke
5) Wilshire coral (the most interesting design of the coral watches)
6) Oval
7) 0-size (got to have the first Hamilton wristwatch)
8) Andrews (the most affordable and attainable of the solid gold 401 models)
9) Meadowbrook (amazingly streamlined and modern for 1928, the first radical departure from Hamilton's previous strict geometric shapes)
10) Seckron
11) Otis
Posts: 84 | Location: Evansville, Wisconsin USA | Registered: April 30, 2005
Hamilton WW Expert
IHC Life Member
Picture of Bryan J. Girouard
Just a few minor points of clarification to Bruce's original post of April 21:

1) Although the Linwood is a long watch, it is not the longest watch Hamilton made... there are several longer models, most notably the Wilshire, Ventura, Pacer, etc. There are probably other models as well that exceed the Linwood in length, but can't remember off the top of my head.

3) The Contour has flexible lugs, not solid or fixed lugs.

Looking forward to seeing the article in the Bulletin.

Bryan J. Girouard
Art Deco Wristwatches
Posts: 169 | Location: Dallas, Texas U.S.A, | Registered: March 30, 2004
In respect of the Contour might it not be more accurate to describe the lugs as being articulated rather than flexible? The lugs swivel against the case but are quite solid.


James Ninh
Posts: 11 | Location: Sydney, NSW, Australia | Registered: May 23, 2006
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