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Hamilton & Inches Edinburgh

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Since my previous Thread on this subject has vanished into thin air??? I thought why not use the opportunity to re do it and add a lot more pictures.


I first bought a Hamilton & Inches watch because I’m also from Edinburgh and I wanted to have a something with my home town on the dial, but as I started looking for a watch I became more interested due to the wide variety that I found. This has resulted in a bit of an obsession with them that has seen my personal collection grow (so far) to over 20 watches. Although they are also a jeweller and silversmiths I’m just going to concentrate on timepieces.

The company was founded by James Hamilton and his nephew Robert Kirk Inches who had served his apprenticeship as a jeweller and watchmaker initially in London and then in Edinburgh with the old firm of Mackay Cunningham & co, before going on to open their own business in 1866.

The oldest watch I have seen so far is this open face pocket watch from 1874 in an 18ct gold case by James Thomas White a casemaker  from Clerkenwell, London.  The movement is typically English in style but I have not been able to establish the exact maker (it is marked C.S under the dial) it is also engraved with the original address of the shop at 90 Princes Street. It wasn’t uncommon around this time for watchmakers to buy the movement as an unfinished kit that they would then assemble and finish in their own workshops.




Square faced mystery clock by Jean Eugene Robert Houdin approx. 1880s (picture from Bonhams)


In 1887 the shop moved to a larger building at 88 Princes Street (Pictures from 1895 H&I)



1886 Miniature silver clock approx. 12 inches  (picture from Sothebeys)


Little pocket barometer still in its fitted case, late Victorian.


Princes Street railway station clock, having survived the fire of 1890 that destroyed most of the original building the Hamilton & Inches station clock was moved into the Caledonian Hotel that replaced it on the site. Traditionally set 5 minutes fast to help people catch their trains.



In 1893 the firm of Robert Bryson & Sons a well-regarded Edinburgh clockmaker originally founded around 1800 was taken over by Hamilton and inches  (Bryson made some interesting clocks I may do a separate thread on him later)


18ct Philip Woodman case open face pocket watch with an Usher & Cole movement that scored 82 marks at the 1895 Kew Observatory watch trials (Bonhams)


1896 18ct half hunter pocket watch with English movement 18ct gold case is hallmarked H&I



Turn of the century Swiss minute repeating pocket watch



This is the first H&I watch that I bought and the one that started the collection

1901 silver case with Edinburgh hallmarks for Hamilton & Inches


The movement is by Rotherham & sons


1902 North British hotel (now The Balmoral) is completed. Hamilton & Inches fitted the tower clock. Traditionally the clock was set 3 minutes fast to help people catch their trains, and only set to the correct time on New Year’s Eve to save the celebrations from kicking off too early.  (lost Edinburgh)



1903 Giant travel clock with 8 day movement chrome/nickel case but came in a large silver frame



1908 Little bit smaller and more decorative pocket watch stand, the watch in this one is a chrome nickel case with a Maxim movement


1910 18ct half hunter H&I hallmarked case and Rotherham & Sons movement



 1912 This Stauffer Son & co is the oldest wristwatch I have in my collection, quite possibly still the original strap. The movement is also by Stauffer.



1913 hunter cased minute repeating chronograph pocket watch movement by Hector Golay



Little video of it striking


1915 Silver case Borgel watch with a 17 jewel Electa movement



1917 Trench watch with hinged telephone style shrapnel guard. (Antique watch co)



1919 9ct open face pocket watch that I picked up was in a bit of a rough state, but cleaned up ok.


Was delighted to find an IWC cal 52 movement inside this one


1920s gunmetal chronograph pocket watch possibly a Valjoux movement



 Some pictures from  a 1920 catalouge that I got at auction, love the hand drawn pictures and art work.





 And a photo of the watchmakes at work.


1923 Gold gents dress watch



1924 Silver dennison case with Solvil movement



1924 silver cased wristwatch, this may have been converted from a pocket watch as at 40mm it was extremely large for the time. Sadly it was sold long before I started collecting; I would have loved to get my sticky paws on that. (Secondtimearoundwatchco)


1927 9ct gold Vertex pocket watch



1930 Benson brothers 9ct case, a loss as to who made this movement though



1930 Open face 18ct gold pocket watch.



1930s Vertex ALLPROOF watch in a steel Borgel case on a Bonklip bracelet, that was on Ebay a while back, I underestimated what this would go for and missed out.



1930s LeCoultre folding travel clock and barometer


Deco gents watch, rectangular steel case with Alpina / Gruen movement.



Fairly basic rolled gold pocket watch Dennison moon grade with Record movement



From the cheaper end a Chrome plated Buren pocket watch



1930s Steel cased Wyler with Aurore Villeret movement



1934 Dennison Sun grade rolled gold pocket watch


Best part about this watch for me was the Minerva movement


1934 Ladies gold watch with Alpina movement, interestingly this has sapphire instead of ruby jewels



Throughout the 1930s-40s most of the Omega watches retailed by H&I appear to have been dual signed


(Picture from sellingantiques)


1937 Omega wristwatch with Dennison case


Another Dennison cased Omega


Ladies on a bracelet, same again







Gents dual signed Omega  (carforumsza)


Also a couple of 30s-40s Rolex watches dual signed (H&I)



1940s steel gents watch, (H&I)


The Shop moved from Princes Street to its present home on George Street taking over the building previously occupied by Brook & Son.

As a side note Brook & Son sold the Submarine watch, one of the first “waterproof” wristwatches, there is a good article on this relatively unknown piece of history  here http://www.vintagewatchstraps.com/blogsubmarine.php



One of my favourite watches a 1950s H&I chronograph, only a plated case but housing a Lemania calibre 1275



And the one that got away, this beauty came up for sale on Ebay a couple of years ago and I missed it because the family had decided (without me) that we should have a dog, so we were in the middle of nowhere collecting it with no phone signal when the auction was ending so I couldn’t get my bid in. If anyone knows who bought this get them to give me a call.


Just a plated case, but with a Landeron column wheel chronograph.


The offending dog for those who are curious.


A sign of the change in the tastes of the public, by the 1980s the pocket watches had become gold plated quartz examples and a few standard Unitas mechanicals





Likewise the wrist watches followed a similar pattern

1980s gold plated quartz


In 1992 the company was sold by the original family to the Asprey group and then a few years later around 1998 a management buyout returned it to Scottish ownership.

2000s 9ct gold presentation watch


Steel dress watch with ETA 2892-2 movement from a couple of years ago.


Last but by no means least,

Patek Philippe made a limited edition purple world time watch for their 150th anniversary signed on the back and with Edinburgh replacing London on the dial (H&I)



If you made it this far congratulations and thank you.

I'm always curious to see other examples so if you know of any I would be delighted to see them.





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What a wonderful thread. 

I for one appreciate the time & effort it takes to compile a thread, the research, pic's & posting can at times be exhausting, but  pleasurable nevertheless.

Thank you Sir.



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Excellent article, love the way the early dial says just. “To the Queen” missing off watch/clock makers.

then they seem to have lost the royal warrant from the dials after     King.     Do they still hold it?

if George street is a side road off Princess street I think I may have bought a watch from them about 20 years ago...omega panda.

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They were by appointment (prior to the modern warrant system) presently they have a royal warrant as Silversmiths and clock specialist  to the Queen.

George street runs parallel to Princes Street a block over.

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Thanks @animalone for a most interesting post. I've been in the shop often enough but wasn't aware of the history. :thumbsup:

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As an Edinburgh boy myself, appreciated this article. Now on the look out for a pocket watch, but I take it they cost a few bob?

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7 minutes ago, Richy said:

As an Edinburgh boy myself, appreciated this article. Now on the look out for a pocket watch, but I take it they cost a few bob?

It really depends on the watch, if you are just looking for Edinburgh on the dial? can probably be done under £300

the chrome plated Buren cost me about £18 and a few quid to get it running again, the gold IWC cost me a little over £400 but it did need work.

At the other end though the minute repeater would probably run you £5-£7k

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Thank you for taking the time, as well as the research that must have been involved, to put together such a fascinating and interesting post. :thumbsup:

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Good to see this back up here again and appreciate you expanding by some margin, your original thread! :thumbsup:

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Wonderful post, just over the water from me and such a rich history, thanks for taking the time to put this all together.

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Its been a busy start to the year, so I will bore you with more of these :whistle:

I've added a couple of watches to the collection and seen another couple of interesting bits.


Just after new year I was able to acquire this 1924 9ct gold open face pocket watch


The movement looked quite nice from the back, but having stripped and cleaned it I haven't been able to identify the maker


Rescued this little thing of fleabay, Silver Dennison case from 1935 housing a Marc Favre movement. I had to replace the missing hour hand and crown but I think they are close enough


Unfortunately I missed the chance of adding this gorgeous watch to the collection :sadwalk:

1950s Rolex with signed dial, hand wound 10 1/2 hunter movement  (pictures from Vintage-watches-collection.com)



Not one of mine but I did a battery change on this, quite nice as far as 1980s basic quartz go


And we will finish with a little bit of a mystery???

I was talking to the old watchmaker at H&I and he had these buried at the back of one of his parts drawers. A mixed batch of dials signed INCHES "


The dials look like they are from the 1930s-40s but he had no idea if watches were ever sold under that branding, or if they were just messing around with designs.

I have never seen one on a watch before, and would be interested to know if anyone has?


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9 hours ago, timesofplenty said:

No way to attach a pic but that Wyler is the business :)

Thank you, I take it you mean this one? 



While I'm here I have acquired two more for the collection. 

I managed to get this base metal pocket watch off fleabay (although it was pretty rusty when it arrived) for the princely sum of £8.50


The movement appears to be by Wittnauer, not sure on the age but I would guess early 1930s


I also got one of their dress watches so that I had something that I could wear without the fear of destroying an old one. 




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