Richard Arbib was the genius
designer and artist who created the futuristic shapes for the Hamilton
electric cases. The designs were revolutionary. The asymmetrical, dynamic,
geometric and eccentric shapes were marketed with clever, space age
sounding names such as Ventura, Pacer, Uranus, Titan, Polaris and Saturn.
Not only were the designs and names fresh and new but the movement was an
engineering marvel. The innovative Model 500 electric - mechanical
movement has two extremely fine contact wires mounted on posts which
connect to the balance wheel. The adjustment of these micro-fine contact
wires (tension, height, length and angle) is critical for the movement to
function properly. The Model 500 has a "bent wire" style battery clip -
many movements are found with damaged contact wires caused by careless
handling of this battery clip. The Model 500A was introduced in 1950 and
the original awkward battery clip was replaced by a more efficient cross
bridge style clamp. The 500 and 500A model gained a reputation as being
finicky and unreliable. Unfortunately this was often due to poorly trained
watchmakers and jewelers who did not take the time to thoroughly
understand these new mechanisms.
The 505 Model was introduced in
1961. A non-adjustable contact on the balance assembly and an innovative
gear train contact now replaced the delicate earlier contact wire design.
Hamilton was not the only U. S.
manufacturer to make an electric driven wrist watch. Elgin produced an
electric watch in 1952 but the timepieces were never mass marketed or
successful. Technology was constantly moving forward and the Bulova
Accutron tuning fork movement quickly took the lead position in the
battery powered watch race. Analog quartz watches and solid state digitals
were being produced and proving to be accurate, durable, dependable and
cost effective. Production of Hamilton electrics came to an end in 1969, a
mere 12 years after their introduction. This genre holds a small but
special place in horological history - good examples are rapidly
disappearing. Hamilton electrics were quite plentiful in the 1980's yet
today the vast majority are held in private collections.