Hamilton was started in 1886 by Abram Bitner when he purchased Lancaster Watch Companies factory in Lancaster, PA. Lancaster Watch company had purchased Keystone Standard Watch Co just a few years prior from bankruptcy as well as Aurora watch company.. The company was named after James Hamilton a Scottish born attorney who laid out and founded Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The company began by manufacturing pocket watches which were sold to the railroads until World War I when the company manufactured wrist watches. During World War II, Hamilton decided to retool to serve the military which it sold for years. This meant that the consumer watches were dropped from production until they re-emerged after the war. In 1951, Hamilton fought a hostile takeover by the Benrus watch company and by the mid 1950's they produced their first electric watch. In 1966, Hamilton acquired the Buren Watch Company in Switzerland and by 1969 they ended all United States manufacturing. Production continued until Buren was sold back to Swiss ownership and On May 16, 1974, the Hamilton brand was sold to SSIH which consequently sold the brand to The Swatch Group.