Hilton Watch Vintage

Watch Identifier: Vintage Hilton Watch With “Unbrakable Mainspring”

Hilton Watch Vintage

If you’re thinking the watch industry has become saturated with brands and sellers in the span of 2016-now, just remember there was a time when everyone, even hotel moguls, were making watches. Just kidding! The Hilton on the dial isn’t from Paris Hilton or her family’s hotel.

The Caseback:

The caseback of a watch is like a billboard for marketing, but few go as far as the Hilton which was “Cased and timed by precision watchcraftsmen“. They forgot to add an exclamation point to the end of that sentence!

Hilton Vintage Watch Caseback

Other Origins:

Despite the “Swiss Made” on the dial, upon cracking open the caseback on the example timepiece pictured here, we found it stamped with the following: G.T. Co. Hong Kong.

Hilton Vintage Watch Gt Co Hong Kong

The following gem of info is from user JimH on watchuseek:

“Hilton was a company based in New York City. Hilton distributed watches usually made with 17 jewel Swiss movements and cases from a variety of sources including Hong Kong. It was a marketing company rather than a manufacturer. Hilton got in trouble with the FTC in the early 60s over misleading pricing and claims for their watches (25 jewel but only 17 functional, marked Swiss Made).”

Yet another vintage watch that proves the smoke and mirrors trickery of the watch industry is not a new phenomenon. The so-called Swiss Made label on watches has been used for decades to sell watches that are not entirely made in Switzerland.

The Movement:

The movement in this watch was not produced by Hilton. It is an A. Schild caliber AS 1361N found in many automatic watches of that era, from Girard-Perregaux to Rado.

Hilton Vintage Watch As1361n Hilton Vintage Watch Unbrakable As1361n

Unbrakable!

As for the so-called unbreakable (or “unbrakable” as Hilton referred to it) mainspring, here’s another gem:

“Self-winding or automatic watches, introduced widely in the 1950s, use the natural motions of the wrist to keep the mainspring wound. A semicircular weight, pivoted at the center of the watch, rotates with each wrist motion. A winder mechanism uses rotations in both directions to wind the mainspring.  In automatic watches, motion of the wrist could continue winding the mainspring until it broke. This is prevented with a slipping clutch device. The outer end of the mainspring, instead of attaching to the barrel, is attached to a circular expansion spring called the bridle that presses against the inner wall of the barrel, which has serrations or notches to hold it. During normal winding the bridle holds by friction to the barrel, allowing the mainspring to wind. When the mainspring reaches its full tension, its pull is stronger than the bridle. Further rotation of the arbor causes the bridle to slip along the barrel, preventing further winding. In watch company terminology, this is often misleadingly referred to as an ‘unbreakable mainspring’.”

What is interesting is the way they spelled Unbrakable on the dial. They were describing a mainspring that wouldn’t break, not a mainspring that wouldn’t brake. So why not Unbreakable? Was is a typo or incorrect translation? It is how they spelled that word back then? We could not find any information related to the etymology of this word, and could not find another example of it being used. Perhaps it was Hilton’s way to invent a term for something how Rolex does today. Or was it a sly way to limit liability… if your mainspring broke, they could say “hey, we said it was an unbrakable mainspring, not UNBREAKABLE!” haha. Please comment below if you have any insight into this.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
17 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
maria cardenas
maria cardenas
3 years ago

I have a Hilton two star 25 jewels automantic I would like to know the value it is in good working contition

Dr. Dave
Dr. Dave
3 years ago
Reply to  maria cardenas

$15 to $20 is all you’ll get out of it.

Dan
Dan
1 year ago
Reply to  maria cardenas

Do you still have it or did you sell it already?

Dwayne
Dwayne
3 years ago

I have an Allen’s 2 star 17 jewel, have you got any pertinent information on this .

Curtis Griffin
Curtis Griffin
2 years ago

I have a watch that has numeral numbers on it is white with black numeral numbers on it and has no name on the face of it but only inside of watches 17 jewels XT Hilton WATCH CO. any information please

Chris Sutherland
Chris Sutherland
2 years ago

Can you tell me anything about the Hilton 57 jewel incabloc? I have one that works and is in good condition.

mary
mary
2 years ago

Any value to my Hilton Pyramid Watch ?

mary
mary
9 months ago
Reply to  mary

Thanks for never responding.

Henry
Henry
9 months ago
Reply to  mary

Could be worse. You could have a Hiltion watch.

Andrew
Andrew
1 year ago

Hi,
Just been given my grandfathers watch he used throughout WW2. Just would like to know some info on it. Thanks

Stew B.
Stew B.
5 months ago

Everyone wants something for nothing, like all these leeches looking for a free valuation on their watch.

mary
mary
5 months ago
Reply to  Stew B.

That’s it Stew. I didn’t ask for a free appraisal.

Steph Flora
Steph Flora
4 months ago

I love this. Thank you for the information. I have my dad’s Hilton he got from his parents when he graduated from Carnegie Melon back in the 50’s. It has no price on it as it is priceless to me. I wear it all the time. Loved reading about it!!

Little Liza
Little Liza
15 days ago

I have a Hilton 17 jewel ladies watch I’m looking for the value…it’s either vintage or antique

LittleLiza
LittleLiza
8 days ago

I have a Hilton 17 jewel with 25 stones on each side of the bracelet…vintage …how do I know if it’s a fraud?

Feedback for KeepTheTime

  1. Eric

    Fast shipping, packaged to survive a stampede of wild rhinos, condition as shown in the beautiful photos and great after sales responsiveness. Will buy from KTT again without a doubt.

  2. Sean

    That was the fastest fulfillment and shipping I have experienced. In the mail the same afternoon. New battery installed prior to shipment. Could not ask for better service. On top of email notifications and responses to questions. Thank you for the great Service!

My Cart Close (×)

Your cart is empty
Browse Shop
×





Join Waitlist Do you want to know if a similar item becomes available? Sign up to be alerted.