A Hamilton by any other name...Vantage!

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Namespetra
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A Hamilton by any other name...Vantage!

#1 Post by Namespetra » Tue Jan 14, 2014 8:34 pm

Don Sauers wrote in his comprehensive "Time for America: Hamilton Watch 1892-1992": "Vantage had been created in 1962 in response to two competitive challenges: first, the continuing popularity of Timex-type watches (products described by Hamilton salesmen as 'throwaway watches' in their off the record comments), and second, the introduction by Bulova of the low-priced Caravelle line."
He adds:
"Both Vantage and Caravelle featured jeweled-lever movements, superior in quality to the pin-lever movements in 'dollar watches' and most Timexes. Vantage retail prices ranged from $11.95 to $29.95, definitely competitive, considering their quality.
Prior to the transfer of some production to Pforzheim [West Germany] in 1968, Vantage movements had been made exclusively in the U.S. Virgin Islands, by Hamilton's newly acquired Standard Time Corporation. The watches were then assembled in Hamilton's plant in East Petersburg, Pennsylvania, a facility that had first served as a fuse factory and then as an assembly plant for automotive clocks."
Sauers concludes, "After a slow start Vantage proved to be a winner, showing sales vitality into the mid-'70s. At its peak the line was sold through 9,000 retail stores nationwide and, eventually, parts came from Switzerland and Japan as well as Germany and the Virgin Islands" (pp. 196-197).

See below one such example of Hamilton's Vantage watch line. It's a 21 jewel Standard Time movement, presumably made in the Virgin Islands and assembled in E. Petersburg, PA. I acquired it some time ago for a price not far above its likely original retail listing. The case and dial are in excellent condition, not a scratch or blemish to be found. Even the luminous hands and the dots at each of the markers glow distinctly! It truly looks like it was never worn.
The base metal bezel is gold plated. The stainless steel back indicates the watch is waterproof, anti-magnetic and shock resistant. The case was made in France.

This watch is presumably pre-1968, according to Sauers' data. The case design is similar to the electric Gemini II, the Thin-o-matic T-412, the Dateline A-678 and the Boatswain III in Hamilton's 1966 catalog. I have not seen a catalog for 1960s Vantage watches. Does anyone have access to Vantage catalogs, presuming they were printed, from this era? I'd like to know if this particular watch was named or categorized in any special way. I've seen the Vantage catalogs listed on this forum from the 1970s and they are not helpful in identifying this watch.

Does anyone else own any Vantage watches? I'd like to see some pics and descriptions if you'd like to share them in this thread. I'm especially curious to see pre-1968 examples from the era when Hamilton was an American owned company prior to its sale to the Swiss Swatch Group.
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Vantage watch obverse
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Vantage watch reverse
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Standard Time 21j
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Tempus fugit; Memento mori.

Findingtime
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Re: A Hamilton by any other name...Vantage!

#2 Post by Findingtime » Wed Jan 15, 2014 5:35 am

Great post and thank you for sharing your watch!

I've been collecting Vantage watches for many years. I've always felt that they are under appreciated. I started a thread awhile back on the Emblematic line of watches from the 70's.

Here is a link. http://www.vintagewatchforums.com/viewt ... emblematic

I have some earlier watches and some unusual ones that I will post when I get home.

Thanks again for the post!

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hamiltonelectric
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Re: A Hamilton by any other name...Vantage!

#3 Post by hamiltonelectric » Wed Jan 15, 2014 11:19 am

Vantage watches are underappreciated today. I wouldn't be surprised if interest takes off in the future, especially for the truly cutting edge 1970s styles, such as the Bill Blass designs. And of course those incredible Emblematics!

Unfortunately I don't have any 1960s Vantage catalogs in my files, only an undated (presumably 1962) four-page flyer to jewelers announcing the line. Note that they set up a NYC address. They really tried to keep this separate from Hamilton in the early years.

In the 1970s Vantage watches were listed in Hamilton's catalogs, in the back section. They obviously gave up the pretense of a totally unrelated brand. I don't see your style in the 70s listings so I agree with your 1960s date.

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hamiltonelectric
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Re: A Hamilton by any other name...Vantage!

#4 Post by hamiltonelectric » Wed Jan 15, 2014 11:22 am

Here's a Vantage Electric of the 60s, NOS.
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Findingtime
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Re: A Hamilton by any other name...Vantage!

#5 Post by Findingtime » Wed Jan 15, 2014 1:24 pm

Thanks for the scans! I haven't seen that flyer before.

I have some original catalogues, displays, and advertising pieces that I will post.

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stales
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Re: A Hamilton by any other name...Vantage!

#6 Post by stales » Wed Jan 15, 2014 1:30 pm

Don't have any Vantages in the collection - but I think I can kinda join the party with a Hamilton-Ricoh....

How so?

Well, from Wikipedia:
"In 1962, Hamilton entered into a joint venture (60% owned by Hamilton) with the Japanese watchmaking firm Ricoh to produce electric watches meant primarily for the Japanese market. The electronic components were produced at Hamilton's Lancaster factory while production of the mechanical works and final assembly was undertaken in Japan. Although production levels of Hamilton-Ricoh watches was high (over 1000 per month), demand was low and consequently, the Hamilton-Ricoh partnership was unable to compete with the substantial market presence of Seiko. The partnership was dissolved in 1965, with the remaining Hamilton-Ricoh electronic movements (marked "Ricoh 555E") re-cased as "Vantage" and sold in the U.S."

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Findingtime
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Re: A Hamilton by any other name...Vantage!

#7 Post by Findingtime » Wed Jan 15, 2014 2:05 pm

Vantage countertop promotional/advertising piece.
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hamiltonelectric
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Re: A Hamilton by any other name...Vantage!

#8 Post by hamiltonelectric » Wed Jan 15, 2014 2:17 pm

@Adam, I can send you much higher resolution scans for your records if you'd like.

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Namespetra
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Re: A Hamilton by any other name...Vantage!

#9 Post by Namespetra » Wed Jan 15, 2014 7:03 pm

I've found the recent posts to be very informative. Thank you! I was unaware of the Vantage Emblematics; they are indeed special members of the Hamilton brand family.

The 4 page flyer to dealers is particularly fascinating. It appears to be the initial announcement to retail jewelers of the new Vantage line for the "medium-price watch market." It promises a "package plan" gimmick for "fast turnover" - an advertising approach dissimilar to the exclusive, high quality and limited production of Hamilton. It would therefore be not surprising that the executives at Hamilton would want to keep the "medium-price" Vantage line very distinct from their standard Hamilton offerings for fear of giving the impression that "Hamilton" is now a "medium-price" product. As hamiltonelectric keenly observed, their Lancaster, PA address is not even listed on the flyer; instead, New York City is shown to be the headquarters of Vantage. This intentional marketing segregation was also employed by Hamilton when they offered their medium-priced Swiss-manufactured Buren watches. After acquiring the high grade and well regarded Huguenin watch company, however, Hamilton used an exactly opposite marketing approach: they went out of their way to advertise the new partnership and even used the stylized Hamilton "H" (first adopted in 1960) on their Swiss made Huguenin watch dials, crowns, cases and movements. The same "H" logo would stand for Hamilton AND Huguenin in the 1960s.

And the Japanese Hamilton-Ricoh partnership is another interesting branch on the Hamilton family tree...!

By the by, I also noticed that the Vantage watches in the flyer were not given names but simple letter-number identifications, like B-9, G-2, etc.... BINGO!!!! :D
Tempus fugit; Memento mori.

Findingtime
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Re: A Hamilton by any other name...Vantage!

#10 Post by Findingtime » Thu Jan 16, 2014 3:05 pm

1967 Vantage Catalogue
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