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I posted about the new Hamilton Railroad pocket watch a few days back and commented on how lovely it is. The timeless nature of the design struck me and to have it with a modern movement inside offers the best of both worlds; vintage charm and modern mechanics.
Tom Munch got in touch and shared with me some photos of his Hamilton Railroad pocket watch which he bought at an auction when he was a kid. From what I can see I suspect that this is from the early 1900’s, approximately 1920, and when you look at it today not one part of the beauty has been lost.
It may appear that I am looking at things that are not there or that I am over-focussing on the minutia of this pocket watch, but this is what happens when you find yourself involved in watches. You start to notice the tiny things that breeze by normal people and you can get hung up on stuff that should be invisible. A date window in the wrong place, a bezel that shines a little too much or markers that are not quite in the correct font for your tastes. Almost anything can discount the purchase of a watch by an enthusiast, but age and a sense of originality can overcome such minor considerations.
This pocket watch has both of these characteristics in spades. I look at the large hour markers supplemented by the smaller red minute markers, which are presented angled in stark contrast to the straight hour markers.
I then see the (perhaps too) small Hamilton logo in italics which should not work in terms of design, but it is the main aspect of the dial that signifies the age of the timepiece. The beautifully slim hands stand out for me and especially so because they are long enough to reach the markers they are designed to hit. This is not usual in older watches, but I like how the slimness is compensated for by the length to retain good legibility at a glance.
The seconds sub-dial is sublime in how it retains so much clarity in a small space and the use of a straight hand again contrasts with the hour and minute hands, but it does contrast in a pleasing way.
Finally, the case markings, type of material used and the dial colouring complete what is a consistent offering in almost every way. It may have even been a daring design in its day with extremely subtle contrasts throughout, but their is one thought that sticks with me above all and that is the authenticity that it exhibits.
A pocket watch like this is truly timeless. The design, the fact that it can still work today and the age that it represents so accurately mean that it is above and beyond almost any other product that someone can own.
This is why I enthuse over these tiny objects and why the even tinier details stand out more than they should. So many factors go in to a watch in the mind of an enthusiast and this Hamilton holds many of them within its timeless and tiny form.
Update: Tom was told by a watchmaker that this one is likely from the 1890’s. Even more impressive.