Throughout the 20th century, Hamilton was an iconic watch brand in America. Hamilton watches are still produced today and are known for their accessible prices and quality craftsmanship. However, if you are a watch collector, you may wonder if Hamilton watches still hold their value.
Most Hamilton watches don’t hold their value. While they’re high quality and robust, they’re not considered to be luxury watches. Modern Hamilton watches will sell for less than their retail price because there isn’t a high demand for them.
This article is a deep dive into the factors that affect the value of Hamilton watches. I’ll also examine how the value of several Hamilton watches has changed over the years.
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Why Hamilton Watches Don’t Hold Their Value
Hamilton watches don’t hold their value because they’re not considered as valuable as watches from luxury brands such as Rolex, Patek Philippe, or Cartier.
Hamilton isn’t as well-known either, so the demand for their watches is lower. You can generally buy second-hand Hamilton watches for cheaper.
There are a few things you should consider before buying a Hamilton watch—or any watch, for that matter.
- Supply and demand
- Watch materials
- Brand popularity
- Limited editions
All of these factors play a part in determining the value of a watch, and they help explain why Hamilton watches aren’t that valuable. Let’s take a closer look at each one of them.
Supply and Demand
Supply and demand is one of the deciding factors on whether or not a watch will hold its value over time.
If there is high demand for a certain watch, but it’s available in limited supply, it’s more likely to hold its value.
The rarer a watch is, the more people are willing to pay for it.
On the other hand, people won’t be willing to pay a lot of money for a watch that’s in high supply.
After all, why would you pay more for a second-hand watch when you can buy a brand-new one in the store?
When it comes to Hamilton watches, they’re available in high supply, and there’s a relatively low demand for them, so their value is unlikely to appreciate over time. In fact, it’s likely to depreciate.
Another thing to consider is the materials of the watch. If a watch is made of high-quality materials, it’s more likely to retain its value. So, what are Hamilton watches made of?
Well, it depends on the model, but here are some of the materials that Hamilton watches can be made of:
- Stainless steel
- Sapphire crystal
- Mineral crystal
You can check the materials of each model by going to the Hamilton website. But suffice it to say, Hamilton uses great-quality materials to make excellent timepieces.
Hamilton watches made of gold and sapphire crystal are more likely to hold their value compared to watches made of mineral crystal and rubber.
Still, that’s likely not enough to counter other factors that make Hamilton watches depreciate over time.
A brand’s popularity is an important factor to consider when thinking about the value of watches.
While Hamilton is a popular brand, it doesn’t sit amongst the most desired brands.
If a brand is popular, people will be more interested in it and want to buy it.
Celebrities’ fashion choices can also have an impact on the popularity and demand for a watch brand. For example, if a famous person wears a certain watch brand, people will be more interested in it, and the demand for it might rise.
Hamilton was quite popular during the middle of the 20th century—even Elvis wore one. However, the brand has fallen out of fashion since then.
Many watch brands have limited edition watches. These are more likely to hold their value because they’re usually made in smaller supplies.
Limited edition watches may also look unique and deviate from the usual design choices of their brand, making them more appealing to buyers.
Hamilton sells a few limited edition watches that may hold their value over time. Some of them are:
- Hamilton Broadway GMT
- Hamilton Jazzmaster GMT Auto
- Hamilton Khaki Navy Belowzero Tenet
- Hamilton Khaki Aviation Takeoff Auto Chrono
- Hamilton American Classic Chrono Matic 50
The History of Hamilton Watches
When assessing how well a particular watch brand will hold value over time, it is worth considering its history. The Hamilton watch brand was established in 1872 in the USA, and Hamilton watches have played an essential role in building critical American infrastructure.
Here are some significant milestones in the history of Hamilton watches:
- Supplying watches to railroad employees. As the American railroad map grew, the railroads used only Hamilton watches. Because of this, timings across the railroad system were governed by Hamilton watches.
- Wristwatches for soldiers during World War I. These watches were used to coordinate troop movements. The original pocket design was adapted to be worn around the wrist.
- Watches for airlines and pilots. In the 1930s, Hamilton also began to supply pilots with wristwatches. Some pilots today still prefer to use Hamilton watches.
- Military watches for World War II. In World War II, Hamilton stopped producing all consumer watches and instead focused on creating wristwatches for the US army. These wristwatches were shipped to soldiers who were deployed in Europe.
- Creating watches for the navy. In the mid-1950s, Hamilton began supplying the Model 21 Hamilton Marine Chronometer to the navy. As well as a timekeeper, this device was used as part of a ship’s navigation system.
- First electric watch. Hamilton launched the world’s first electric watch in 1957. Elvis Presley sported it in Blue Hawaii.
The Swatch Group bought out the Hamilton brand in 1974 and, in 2003, moved its headquarters to Switzerland.
Should You Buy A Hamilton Watch Second Hand?
Hamilton watches can be fairly expensive. So buying a Hamilton watch second-hand allows you to save some money. Most Hamilton watches depreciate in value over time, so you will likely get a good value for your purchase.
For example, a 15% depreciation of the model you want is basically a 15% discount for you.
However, when you buy a watch second-hand, you should be careful that you don’t buy a counterfeit one.
Luckily, Hamilton isn’t a brand that’s targeted by fake watchmakers.
That’s often reserved for brands like Rolex and Omega.
But it never hurts to check:
- You can run the serial numbers and see if the watch is authentic.
- The inside of the case back will typically have ‘Hamilton’ engraved.
- You can send the watch to an official Hamilton dealership and have them verify the authenticity.
- If the price is too good to be true, it probably is.
Can I Resell a Hamilton Watch for More Money?
While it was once a trendy brand in the US, Hamilton watches are not as valuable as they used to be. You won’t be able to resell a modern Hamilton watch for a significant amount.
If you resell a Hamilton watch, you may lose a few hundred dollars.
Most modern Hamilton watches sell for less than their retail value. For example, this Khaki Aviation watch is on sale on the Hamilton website for $595, but you can find it second-hand for $509 (prices as of 2022).
It’s not much of a price difference, but it shows that these watches don’t hold their value.
Value of Different Hamilton Watches Over Time
The value of Hamilton watches varies significantly from series to series. Here is a chart compares the price depreciation of several Hamilton models:
Let’s take a closer look at some of them.
The Jazzmaster watches are a collection of some of Hamiton’s most high-quality timepieces.
For example, the Jazzmaster Open Heart Auto is selling for $1,045 on the official Hamilton website. It’s selling for $875 second-hand, even though the condition is new.
While this is a high-quality timepiece, it still depreciated by about 20%.
Khaki Field Quartz
The Khaki Field Quartz is one of the most affordable Hamilton watches. You can purchase it for $345 on the official website.
However, you can buy a used one for $259. That’s a depreciation of $86.
It’s important to note that the watch was produced in 2012, so it’s relatively old.
Typically, older watches tend to stabilize in value. And sometimes, they even appreciate over time.
However, the Khaki Field Quartz has depreciated by 25%.
American Classic Ardmore Quartz
This watch is in the medium range. You can buy it on the official Hamilton watch website for $525. On the other hand, you can purchase it second-hand in new condition for $385 (as of 2022).
That’s a total saving of $140—and a large depreciation of 27%.
While Hamilton watches may not appreciate significantly over time, they are high-quality timepieces. If you are looking to buy a modern Hamilton watch, consider it a quality watch as opposed to an investment.