Hamilton has become one of the shining stars of the Swatch Group. Under the direction of president Sylvain Dolla, Hamilton has had record growth for the last few years, each year outdoing the last, even in the face of the worldwide economic crisis.
“What I’m most excited about is the spirit of the people in the Hamilton company,” Dolla says. “I feel that the entire Hamilton company is excited about the 120th anniversary this year [Hamilton was founded in 1892 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA]. I think we will have a great year in 2012. The trend is tremendously good, with double-digit growth. We are going up and I don’t think anything can stop us. The positioning is right and the new products were accepted very well by our partners. We have a perfectly balanced collection.”
Showcase piece: Hamilton Khaki Navy Pioneer Limited Edition
The showcase piece for this anniversary year is the limited edition Khaki Navy Pioneer, which is a nod to Hamilton’s rich history as a supplier to the US Armed Forces. In the 1940s, Hamilton was a pioneer in the volume production of marine chronometers, which were clocks on gimbals for use in navigating on the high seas. The Khaki Navy Pioneer is a watch that doubles as a table clock, or vice versa. This 46.55mm hand winding mechanical watch is mounted in a marine chronometer-like case for delivery, and the internal frame of the box can be taken out to function as a table clock, then the watch can be taken out and put into an innovative and secure wristwatch casing for the owner to wear.
Limited to 1892 pieces, the Khaki Navy Pioneer is a beautiful watch and a great piece of history—vintage and modern at the same time.
“I am really excited about the Khaki Navy Pioneer limited edition, because it summarises the history of the brand,” Dolla says. “We were looking for an idea that would be a tribute to the history of Hamilton and to the marine chronometers. We produced 14,000 marine chronometers for the US Navy starting in 1940. What we have as a result is not just a watch, as the concept integrates the box as well to make it a table clock. The beautifully-decorated hand-wound movement has special 120th anniversary engraving, as well.”
HAMILTON KHAKI NAVY PIONEER LIMITED EDITION
A year of refinement
This year, Hamilton worked on refinements to its existing product range, focusing on the small details that do not add to the cost, but make the product much more special.
Alexandre Gannac, head of product for Hamilton, explains: “There are two basic ways to enhance the perceived value of a watch: put money into the product, but this is not the way we pushed, as we want to remain in our price range,” he says. “The other way is to use other rules of technical construction—one example is the white line of the gasket under the bezel of a watch. Doing the construction in a different way, we were able to hide the gasket. It doesn’t cost more, but it is a better look. For another example, one of the weaknesses of the Jazzmaster was the integration of the bracelet into the case, as we had a lot of lines crossing. I worked on the case and lug architecture to modify the integration to have a very clean integration. We changed the way we build the watch, so we can increase the perceived value.”
Though the number of new pieces will be down for Hamilton this year at BaselWorld, they are of a high quality. Here are the highlights:
For the 120th anniversary, Hamilton is taking some historical best sellers and reinterpreting them. The Intra-Matic was a best seller in the 1960s, powered by a beautiful micro rotor movement, and featuring a pure and timeless design.
Hamilton has relaunched the Intra-Matic in 38mm and 42mm sizes, each available with a silver or black dial and a vintage leather strap or a nine-link steel bracelet. This watch uses a Hamilton logo from the 1950s.
Another reissue is the Khaki Pilot Pioneer, a tribute to a watch Hamilton used to produce for the Royal Navy and Air Force in the 1970s. It features an asymmetrical case with a NATO fabric strap, and for the modern version, Hamilton removed the third counter of the chrono.
A new Jazzmaster Autochrono, at 42mm, will be introduced this year. “We wanted to do two things with this chronograph – we launched our new Valjoux movement with 60 hours power reserve with two counters last year,” says Dolla. “We wanted to take advantage of this investment and now we are doing it with three counters. We redid the architecture of the case. The size remains 42mm, but we wanted to open the dial. We are using the clou de Paris finishing on the dial to differentiate it from the other watches in the Jazzmaster collection.”
For the 120th anniversary, Hamilton is doing some diamond watches. As an example, a version of the Ventura - the Ventura S with diamonds and an automatic movement, limited to 888 pieces, were unveiled at BaselWorld.
The new Hamilton X Patrol is a watch dedicated to the pilot’s universe. This watch offers a pilot conversion table—between metres and feet, gallons and litres, etc. It’s very easy to use and really offers something useful.
KHAKI PILOT PIONEER, JAZZMASTER AUTOCHRONO, HAMILTON X PATROL
Celebrating 120 years
Look for more product introductions coming from Hamilton throughout the year. In addition, Hamilton is partnering with the US National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, which has a great museum in Columbia, Pennsylvania, to do an exhibition of historic Hamilton timepieces at Grand Central Station, in New York City.
Men in Black 3
One more piece of exciting Hamilton news for 2012 is the brand’s involvement in “Men in Black 3”, the third in the series of movies starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. According to Hamilton, the brand is integrated into the story of the movie and all the MIBs wear Hamilton watches in this go-around, which releases on May 25, 2012.
Source: Europa Star April - May 2012 Magazine Issue