Hamilton: 100 years of timing the skies

In 2018, Hamilton will celebrate an important milestone in its history as the company marks its first century of timing the skies.

Black and white photo of man handing out watches to pilots
Pilots receive Hamilton watches on May 15, 1918. Hamilton Photo
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Hamilton has a prestigious history of serving the flying community and has been providing essential cockpit tools to pilots and co-pilots since the early days of flight.

Watches are essential in aviation. Everything is based on accurate timing. Even modern pilots need a watch as a reliable backup to their digital multi-instrument display.

Hamilton’s close connection with aviation began early in its history. Having gained a reputation for accuracy with its railroad watches, Hamilton started creating pilots’ watches.

The milestones since then have been regular and significant. In 1918, Hamilton watches were chosen to be the official timekeepers of the first U.S. Airmail flights between Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and New York. 1926 saw a Hamilton watch time the first flight to the North Pole.

Hamilton watch lays on white surface.
Hamilton watches have been a trusted partner in aviation for nearly a century. Hamilton Photo

In the 1930s, the company’s reputation for producing aviation watches saw Hamilton become the official watch of the four major airlines of the United States and its selection as the timekeeper for the first non-stop coast-to-coast service from New York to San Francisco.

Since then, Hamilton has developed and maintained partnerships with military squadrons, air rescue services, demonstration teams and aerobatic pilots around the world.

In 2017, Hamilton became the official timekeeper of the Red Bull Air Race, the new dimension of motorsport.

The championship focuses on speed and precision and requires split-second timing. The pilots use the fastest, most agile and lightweight racing planes to navigate the low-level aerial tracks at high speed. With this partnership, Hamilton is at the forefront of the most exciting branch of aviation.

Red Bull Air Race plane flies overhead with Hamilton logo painted on its underside
Nicolas Ivanoff of France performs during practice day at the seventh round of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship at Lausitzring, Germany on Sept. 15, 2017. Joerg Mitter/Red Bull Photo

As developments in aviation have increased, so has the demand for watches as flight instruments that can withstand the testing surroundings they are placed in, and meet pilots’ ever-evolving needs.

The current Hamilton collection reflects the needs of modern aviators, including watches with the ability to log up to 20 flights, with two time zones, and equipped with numerous calculators including those for landing speed, drift angle and fuel requirements. It is the company’s continued close collaboration with pilots that has helped keep Hamilton at the cutting edge of aviation innovation in watches.

Since 1918, accuracy, innovation, a taste for adventure and a focus on precision have all contributed to making Hamilton the choice of professional aviators to accompany them in the cockpit.

Hamilton is proud to celebrate its first century of timing the skies.

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