Hamlin Collections
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Hamlin Brand History

    The HAMLIN wristwatch is purely a marriage of form and function. The form is as a piece of jewelry whose origin can be traced back to its roots beginning as a bracelet. The function came much later as an outgrowth of the bracelet becoming a timekeeping instrument.

    Early American wristwatches arrived on the scene near the beginning of the 1900's. They were conversions of other watch forms. Many were simply women's pendant watches with lugs soldered at the top and bottom to which a strap or bracelet was affixed. Others were conversions from small size pocket watches. WWI did much to change that stream of thinking as several of the older Americana watch brands began to produce wristwatches for the United States Military.

    The period 1925 to1936 was called the Decorative Period. WWI had ended and the American Watch Industry began to produce more wristwatches within a design frame called Art Deco; a name derived from an international fair held in Paris in 1925 (fig. 1). Designs were characterized by having geometric shapes and distinctive decorations on the watch bezels and cases. American men were hesitant to wear watches on the wrist because at the time they were introduced, watches worn on the wrist were considered to exude effeminacy.

    By the 1930's the production of wrist-watches surpassed that of pocket watches. The designs, though somewhat Deco, were beginning to take on a streamlined look (fig. 2). In the late 1930's and early 1940's, the streamlining became dominant as excessive decoration and embellishments disappeared.

    The rectangular shape watch cases became quite popular. It was at this time, in 1936, that HAMLIN wristwatches were introduced into the American Market (fig.3). The streamlined case designs became more modest in appearance. The most noticeable change was the absence of the exterior scroll work effect from the prior decade. Becoming modern was the inspiration which lead to more modest designs.

    The first HAMLIN watches were powered by a Swiss 7 jewel HAMLIN movement (fig. 4). The movements were assembled into domestic cases and the watches were timed in the USA using American watch case and bracelet components.

    In the 1940's and 1950's America's military involvement brought to fruition watch designs that responded to the needs of soldiers in the Armed Forces. Watches were designed for function in the field; able to stand abuse and to display the time in clear bold Arabic numbers.

    In the 1960's, HAMLIN introduced its barrel-shape watch case with hidden lugs and adjustable steel mesh bracelet. This design achievement concealed the attachment points between the bracelet and the watch case achieving an integrated design (fig. 5).


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