Solid and reliable timepiece. Water resistant to 165 ft. Clear face and anti-reflective sapphire dial window. Automatic self-winding function. Features day with the date.
Deep-set face can be hard to read in the dark.
Traditional face with Arabic numbers and hand-wound movement. Sleek stainless steel bezel and sturdy khaki canvas strap. Resists water to 165 ft. Has a date window and sapphire crystal.
Green face may not appeal to all men. 38 mm case is ideal for some but may be too small for others.
Large and elegant watch that's also slim. Good strap quality. Features a date window.
Illumination markings are weak. Lacks a second hand.
Water resistant to a limited depth. Striking retro-flavored timepiece. Stainless steel case with black dial and slim dot-and-stick markers. Sapphire glass.
Deployment clasp can be difficult to secure.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
A quality watch should be handsome, practical, and dependable, but a truly great timepiece is so much more than that. Elevated beyond a way to tell time, the best Hamilton watches deliver a high-quality mixture of styles, watch face designs, and configurations, including some unique looks that you won’t find in other brands.
Hamilton watches are geared toward customers looking for a premium product. Their designs range from classically inspired minimalism to asymmetrically eye-catching to everything in between, all but guaranteeing there’s a watch in the Hamilton catalog for you. We’ve selected some of our favorites, but to learn more about how watches work and what features to look for, continue reading our extensive shopping guide.
Generally speaking, Hamilton watches are designed with elegance and simplicity in mind, resulting in styles that are, for lack of a better word, timeless. However, there are more striking alternatives with triangle-shaped faces, textured alligator-skin bracelets, and other notable details such as luminous hands or faces. Yet even in the classic styles, there’s more variety than you might think because the watches present information very differently.
Typical watch face features include the standard clock, chronograph, day/date display, and 24-hour military time readout. How these elements are displayed makes a world of difference, though, because the look of your watch can be tailored to what you’re wearing, what you’re doing, and even where you’re going. A simplified but attractive design might be better suited to your job or chosen fashion choice, but a data-packed or flashy alternative could be a better fit for another. Decide what is important to you and go from there.
Your watch goes where you go, and it has to be durable enough to keep up. The watch case, glass, and strap are the main parts to consider when discussing durability.
Case: Some watch cases are constructed from plastic and alloy metals, but the majority of Hamilton timepieces are equipped with tough stainless steel bodies.
Glass: As for the glass that covers the watch face, it comes in three flavors: acrylic, mineral, and sapphire. Acrylic is clearly the cheapest because it’s essentially plastic, and while it’s tough, it is more vulnerable to scratching than the other two. Mineral glass is extremely common and scratch resistant, but overall, sapphire is the most desired material. Whether it’s genuine or synthetic sapphire, it offers extreme toughness and scratch resistance. On the Mohs scale, which measures the relative hardness of minerals, sapphire sits just behind diamond, and sapphire is featured on a large number of Hamilton products.
Strap: Leather is among the more prevalent materials used, but cloth, plastic, and alligator skin are found on Hamilton watches, too.
The battery life of your watch is vital because, well, the watch won’t work without it – if it uses a battery at all, that is. Several of Hamilton’s watches don’t have batteries, instead relying on a complex internal winding mechanism that stores energy in a tightly wound spring, which we’ll touch on below.
For now, let’s discuss electricity. On a powered watch, the battery sends energy to a microchip circuit, which then causes a cut piece of quartz to oscillate (hence the term “quartz movement”). The microchip detects these oscillations and turns them into electrical pulses. These pulses drive the various motors and gears inside the machine, resulting in a constant “tick, tock” from the watch. The process utilizes very little battery power, meaning the power source can last for several years.
Rustic, civilized timepiece
This versatile, high-quality watch goes with nearly any fashion and is built to last. The face features time, day, and date. The antireflective sapphire glass is exceptionally scratch resistant, and the automatic function never needs winding.
We’ve covered how a battery-powered quartz movement watch works, so let’s turn our attention to wound mechanical units, which make up a large part of Hamilton’s catalog.
Mechanical watches store energy in a tightly wound coil called the mainspring. The spring then distributes its energy through the gear train, balance wheel, and a mechanical linkage called an escapement to drive the hands around the dial. But how does the spring get wound?
Mechanical watches have two variations: hand-wound/manual watches and self-winding/automatic watches.
Manual: These watches are wound by the wearer, and it’s typically accomplished by turning a crown knob on the side of the case. Some models use a winding key. This style is generally lighter than an automatic watch and provides a certain level of clout to those who value micro-mechanics and timekeeping tradition. These watches do require more attention, though, because they need to be wound weekly or daily.
Automatic: The mainspring of an automatic watch is wound by a weighted internal rotor that spins when you move your wrist. This is incredibly convenient because it requires little to no effort by the owner to maintain so long as the watch is used often. The only real downside is the slight increase in weight due to the rotor, which is why automatic watches are the flagships of the premium market.
Hamilton watches aren’t necessarily designed for diving, but their tight tolerances and exceptional build quality allow them to competently travel deep underwater. All the watches on our list are rated for 50 meters (164 feet) of water resistance, a depth that generates 5 bar (73 pounds per square inch) of pressure. Hamilton does make watches rated for 1,000 meters of depth, however they are rarer. To check yours, consult the manual or look at the bottom of the watch case. A conversion table can be found below:
Don’t let a dead battery sneak up on you. A reliable indicator of low battery power is when the second hand begins to jump in four-second intervals or a light begins flashing. This is sometimes called an “end of life” indicator.
Hamilton watches are firmly entrenched in the premium timepiece bracket, but there’s a wider price spread than you might realize. And even at the more attainable end, the level of quality is impressive.
Inexpensive: For around $300, buyers can enjoy a sturdy stainless steel case with a scratch-resistant mineral or sapphire glass. Tolerances allow these watches to handle depths of about 164 feet without issue. And while every power source can be found at every price point, the most common version you’ll see at this level is a quartz movement.
Mid-range: Double that price to $600 and you’ll see manual and automatic watches, leaving quartz battery power in the rearview mirror for the most part. Sapphire becomes increasingly common here, as does improved water resistance and design intricacy.
Expensive: Finally, at prices up to $1,300, you’ll encounter sapphire watches of the highest quality featuring extreme depth ratings, hassle-free automatic winding, clever features like tachymeters, and the most intricate design philosophies.
Hamilton’s quartz movement watches have very little deviations in timing. They generally range from minus 0.5 to plus 0.7 seconds per day, depending on environmental factors.
Avoid intense magnetic fields like electromagnetic appliances, large medical equipment, and metal detectors. These devices can impair the accuracy of your watch.
Practical minimalism done right
This casual timepiece displays the essentials without being too flashy. The tough stainless steel body and durable mineral face will stand up to daily use, and the face displays bold, clear numbers. Manual winding is perfect for gearheads.
Hamilton’s inventory is vast. As a consequence, there are a couple watches that didn’t make our list that we’d still like to grant honorable mentions. The first is the brand’s Timeless Class Analog Automatic Watch, which sits near the top of Hamilton’s catalog with the features to match. The large dial and leather band offer a stunning black-and-orange color scheme, and there are three sub-dials on the face for various timing functions. Another highlight is the Khaki Navy Scuba Watch, which is built with underwater use in mind. Boasting a water-resistance depth of 100 meters and top-shelf components, it flaunts a trick orange-and-black color scheme on the top ring. In addition, it features an 80-hour power reserve if time gets away from you.
Q. I want wear my watch while diving. What do I need to know?
A. Hamilton recommends that you set the crown knob to position 0. If your watch has a screwed crown, verify that it is screwed all the way back down so water can’t enter the mechanism. Do not use push-button functions or turning bezels while underwater. If you submerge the piece in salt water, clean it thoroughly with clean, fresh water afterward.
Q. How do I replace the battery on my Hamilton watch?
A. Changing a watch battery sounds simple, but there are complex mechanical components at play. The basic steps are: loosen the screws on the back, remove the backplate, then carefully remove and replace the battery. That said, when replacement is necessary, Hamilton strongly urges you to take the timepiece to an authorized service center or retailer.
Q. What is a helium escape valve?
A. A helium escape valve is a decompression system that allows helium to vent from inside the watch. Helium is used in breathing gas mixtures for deep-sea divers, and since helium is the smallest natural gas particle found in nature, rogue atoms can find their way inside timepieces. If the diver surfaces too quickly or doesn’t vent, a pressure differential can form between the trapped helium and the surrounding environment, potentially causing damage.
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