The Hamilton Watch Company

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Sales results the consumption of cotton in women's street and formal wear has soared from 42,000 bales to 74,000 bales (one bale weighs 478 pounds and provides enough material for over 400 dresses) in women's sportswear, the figures show 16,000 bales in 1939 and 51,000 in 1954; in skirts, from 3,000 bales to 46,000; foundation garments, from 49,000 to 64,000; blouses, from 39,000 to 74,000 bales.

Total expenditures on the Maid of Cotton promotion now run close to a half million dollars, mostly from tie ins. In fact, currently a major problem is limiting the tie ins so as to keep the Maid's wardrobe as well as her tour within bounds. The world now knows about this better mouse trap, and a path has been beaten to the door.

Cotton has come out of the bargain basement and into the show window; out of the kitchen and into the country club. As Printers' Ink said "Virtually all leading designers of New York, California, Dallas, Miami, Rome, Paris, and London now show cottons in all their collections. While the Maid of Cotton can hardly take all the credit, she can be given a big share. She and her fabulous wardrobe have dramatized cotton's coming of age in high fashion as could no other type of promotion."

Had Mars not swung so close to the Earth only 39,800,000 miles away a few years ago, this case history never would have been written. But it did. And so, by remote control, it sparked a highly effective public relations campaign. This campaign mushroomed into a nationwide front page news and picture story and incubated a variety of intriguing human interest features that were eagerly embraced and spotlighted by top network television and radio shows. In a few short weeks a deep and indelible impression had been left with the American public. And people wrote in from coast to coast to laud the Hamilton Watch Company for an unusual and impressive demonstration of its pioneering leadership in homological research and development.

It all started when Dr. I. M. Levitt, director of the Fels Planetarium in Philadelphia approached Hamilton with a startling request. He wanted our company to make a "Space Clock" that would record accurately and simultaneously the passage of the two different time cycles on Earth and Mars by hour, day, month, and year. Dr. Levitt, who holds a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and a Ph.D. in astronomy, was anticipating a particular night in July when Mars would make its closest approach to Earth in many years. Levitt, an expert in the dramatic presentation of highly technical subjects, wanted a Martian Space Clock as a prop. He proposed to use this in a series of planetarium lectures to tune in on the great public interest he was confident would soon be created as astronomers pointed their scopes toward Mars.

Dr. Levitt planned to base one of these lectures on a hypothetical rocket trip to Mars and back. He said a special timepiece would be needed by his imaginary rocketeers in face of the many out of this world conditions they would encounter in navigating such an interplanetary excursion.

So he had "imagined" the salient features that would be "musts" in this special clock. He roughly sketched the face of a multi dialed instrument and hoped Hamilton would supply the homological know how to conceive and build the mechanism back of it to make it work. He also wanted a hand control included so that the lecturer using it could speed up its time recording to cause the hands on its several dials to perform their full 24 hour function in a matter of seconds. Thus, for instance, he could visually tick off and show that the Martian day is 37 minutes and 23 seconds longer than the Earth day.

We were intrigued with the proposal. It posed some interesting problems in time telling research. While such a clock had little or no possibilities as a commercial product, making one for Dr. Levitt would be a service to science.

So the services of Ralph B. Mentzer, assistant director of the company's processing development department, were assigned to this project. Because our experimental facilities were completely engaged at the time in defense work, Mentzer volunteered to design and make the clock in his home workshop after hours.

When the clock was completed, it was a unique creation. Its circular cased master dial was backed with a Plexiglas cylinder through which the complicated mechanism could be seen. The 24 hour master dial recorded the passage of a complete Martian day by Martian hours and minutes. Lower center on the big dial was a smaller dial that recorded Earth's Greenwich timed by hours, minutes, and seconds. Left center was a small calendar dial with one hand that recorded the passage of Martian days in a Martian month up to 56 days. Then within this dial were two openings through which the passage of Martian months and its 669 day years were recorded via a moving printed tape. To record and synchronize the passage of Martian years, the year 4713 D.C. Earth time, the beginning of the Julian Day epoch, was chosen as year zero on Mars. So that by January 1, 1954, A.D., Earth time, the 668.60 day Martian years would have piled up a total of 3,641 years on the Martian calendar. A similar small dial on the right center of the clock's face recorded the day, month, and year of Earth time.

Mentzer had made and used 400 special purpose parts to produce the clock. It was powered by a synchronous 60 cycle motor, and a manually controlled variable transformer was coupled to its mechanism so that Dr. Levitt could increase its normal synchronous speed up to 2,000 times. When completed and mounted on its chestnut pedestal, one look at this clock was all that was needed to realize its tremendous publicity potentials.

Dr. Levitt became a willing party to a campaign to publicize this clock. Plans were quickly developed with the help of the public relations department of our advertising agency, Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn. The story broke first through an advance exclusive release to Meyer Berger, who featured first news of this Space Clock in his column in The New York Times. Two days later Dr. Levitt demonstrated the clock three times on Dave Gar roway's coast to coast telecast, Today.

Then the clock was formally unveiled by Hamilton's president at a cocktail party at the Waldorf Astoria. This party was attended by 185 representatives of the science, jewelry, and general press. Dr. Levitt was on hand to explain how the clock was to be used and answer questions the newsmen might then ask. Invitees had received a carefully prepared press kit the day before the party. This contained a general news release, biographies of Dr. Levitt and Ralph Mentzer, a construction fact sheet, a page of mathematical equations, and four appropriate photographs. Some 215 similar kits were mailed to as many science editors of out of town newspapers and magazines. Next day every major wire service picked up this story and featured it in their specially written stories. Before the month was out 390 daily newspapers in 45 states with circulations totaling 29,000,000 had featured the Hamilton Space Clock. These were augmented by a second wave of special stories, editorials, and column features which appeared in magazines over the next six months.

After Dr. Levitt's first appearance with the clock on TV, requests from other shows poured in. He, obligingly, found time in the ten days after the story broke to make personal appearances on six additional New York TV programs, including Steve Allen, Margaret Aden, Faye and Skitch, Eloise McElhone, Bill Leonard, and Carousel. Lyle Van, John Henry Faulk, and the Fitzgcralds also interviewed Dr. Levitt on three radio network broadcasts before his duties at the planetarium caused him to turn down further radio and television invitations.

The primary objective of this Hamilton Space Clock campaign was to present the Hamilton Watch Company as a leader in pioneering research and development in time telling. Therefore, any science fiction type of exploitation was carefully avoided in the original releases. The wisdom of this decision was evident as science editors, our primary target, embraced the space clock as the science feature scoop of the day. A few writers poked mild fun at the whole idea. Other, more imaginative writers conjured up their own bizarre versions of the problems any spacemen would have to meet on Mars. But all this added to the variety, flavor, and widespread interest of this campaign.

The clock was in high demand as a window display feature among jewelers who sold Hamilton watches. It was spotlighted as a feature at industrial and instrumental expositions.

The accomplishments of Hamilton's research and development facilities have been substantial in the past 25 years. But public interest in the highly specialized technology of watchmaking is difficult to fan. Most people take a fine watch for granted and shy away from learned technical articles that explain the "how" and "why" of a new hairspring or balance wheel developed to improve watch performance.
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