These two Hamiltons are a bit of a mystery — they were purchased together, from the same seller.
Strangely, they house the first Swiss produced electric movement, the Landeron 4750. This movement appeared in 1961 and was in direct competition with Hamilton’s own 505 movement. The 4750 movement always had the watch maker’s name engraved on the balance plate, and these are no different.
So what are these “Huguenin Electrics” and why are they using a non-Hamilton electric movement in their watches? The only information I’ve been able to find on this comes from Don Sauer’s excellent book, “Time for America”, which covers the history of the Hamilton watch company.
“The factory of A. Huguenin Fils was founded in 1857 and was one of the pioneers among watchmakers in the mountains of Neuchatel. Hamilton purchased this company in 1959 in the hope of increasing the company’s share of the premium-price watch market. Henry Huguenin was appointed Directory of the company and Huguenin manufactured watches under the Hamilton name as well as continuing to make top-quality watches under the Huguenin name.”
Here is my theory. Henry Huguenin had a pretty free hand in the running of the European operation at Neuchatel, and decided to produce a Hamilton Huguenin Electric containing the Landeron 4750, a local movement to him in Switzerland, and being used by many other companies like Wittnauer, Waltham, Clinton, etc…but maybe the Hamilton parent company back in Lancaster thought this was a bad idea and that it would cause marketing confusion around their 505-based electric watch brands…and therefore canned the project. Just an idea…if you know different, please get in touch!
I’ve asked Rene Rondeau, and he knows no more than what’s in Don Sauers book; both he and I would love to know more about the history of these watches… I love them, I’m almost sure they are NOS, and both are running fine.
Note: For details on the use of modern batteries in Landeron 4750/4760 based watches, please see the relevant page in the Landeron section of this site.
I recently bought this Hamilton Huguenin dial from eBay; it is not the same as the two in the watches above and, judging by the feet, 1) it has never been used and 2) fits the same Landeron 4750 movements as shown above. After speaking further with the seller, I got this email : “I got a lot of NOS dials from a retired employee of Hamilton when I went to watchmaking school in Lancaster in the early 1980’s. I assume he collected parts at his bench and eventually took what was there home when he retired”. This doesn’t really help in understanding anything about these rare watches, but is it interesting that this dial was at some point in the Lancaster factory even though it is marked “Swiss”.