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An amazing story here. . .

'The Watch and I Went Through Fire'

One amazing tale of Hamilton watches during World War II comes from the disaster that thrust the United States into that war. It's recounted in Time for America: Hamilton Watch Co. 1882-1992, by Don Sauers (Sutter House, Lititz, Pa.).

In December 1941, Russell W. Warriner was a crewman aboard the USS Arizona and, as he said, "the proud owner of a Hamilton wristwatch." On Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese warplanes attacked Pearl Harbor, home of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Worst hit was the Arizona, with 1,177 casualties—half of the surprise attack's total casualties.

Warriner was one of the Arizona's few survivors. "The watch and I went through tremendous concussions from the explosions, through fire, oil, and saltwater," he wrote of those hellish minutes. "When I was taken off the ship, the only thing I was wearing was my watch, my clothes and shoes having been blown or burned off." The watch's leather band was so badly burned it "fell in pieces" when nurses "ever so lightly tugged at [it]."

During his hospitalization, Warriner was often anxious about his watch—"After all, it was my only possession and a very special one," he said afterward—so his nurses kept it in a safe for him. Later, he had a jeweler examine it, and "despite what this watch went through, there was no oil or saltwater damage," he said in a 1992 letter to Hamilton Watch Co. "It was in good shape, running accurately as ever … and [it] is still running today."

By then, Warriner no longer wore the watch, for fear of accidentally damaging it, but "I have it on display and keep it wound," he wrote. "For a watch to take so much punishment and 50 years later still be in good working condition says a lot for your product."

It is, Warriner concluded, "one of my prized possessions—a very special Hamilton wristwatch."
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