The railroad gave Lancaster easy access to raw materials and transported goods and people to and from major cities such as Philadelphia, Baltimore, and New York. In 1874, the Adams & Perry Watch Manufacturing Co. built a factory in Lancaster specifically for making watches. While watch production had a rocky start in Central Pennsylvania, it hit its stride when Hamilton arrived on the scene.
Established in 1892, the Hamilton Watch Co. was founded when Keystone Watch Co. merged with the Illinois-based Aurora Watch Co.
Hamilton had manufactured 143 distinct grades of watch movements by 1967. The first Hamilton watch was a large railroad model created to meet the specifications of the Time Inspection Rules established by the railroads. By the turn of the 20th century, Hamilton’s product was widely known as the Railroad Timekeeper of America.
With the onset of World War II, the Navy needed chronometers in great quantities, and Hamilton began delivering them in February 1942. During the next year, Hamilton increased production to 500 chronometers per month—an amazing achievement and a triumph of American enterprise.
Hamilton has the distinction of being the only US watch company to survive global competition well into the late 1900s. The efforts and talents of Hamilton employees and management combined to create high-quality products that are still appreciated by collectors all over the world. Today, watches with the Hamilton brand continue to be produced by the Swatch Group, a Swiss watchmaking company.