Very rare Hamilton “Captain Rice” men’s Streamline Moderne design wristwatch in solid 14K yellow gold, circa 1934.

Among the most desirable of the early Hamilton models, and part of its "Aviation" series, this watch was originally introduced as the "Floyd Bennett" in February of 1930 in honor of legendary United States Navy aviator Floyd Bennett, who piloted Lieutenant Commander Richard Byrd's flight to reach the North Pole in 1926. Byrd also had a Hamilton wristwatch named for him (the "Byrd" in 1930), and the two men were awarded with a rare peacetime Congressional Medal of Honor for their efforts. Bennett was also promoted to Warrant Mechanic by Act of Congress. He was also awarded the Distinguished Service Medal and a special medal from the National Geographic Society. The heroic Bennett died in 1928 after becoming ill during an attempt to rescue the crew of a downed German airplane in Canada. A few months after its introduction and without explanation, Hamilton renamed the watch “Captain Rice” perhaps for the explorer and Harvard professor Alexander Hamilton Rice, who led expeditions to the Amazon and Orinoco from 1907 to 1925. A mere 432 of the watches were produced in yellow gold, all handmade by the obscure Perrin Watch Case Co. The watch was cataloged only in 1931 and 1932 and most of the 432 were produced during that span, with Hamilton announcing in 1933 that the watch had been discontinued. However, Hamilton records reveal that about three dozen were assembled and sold in 1934 and 1935. Interestingly, this example lacks a Hamilton case signature, but contains all the other Perrin markings identical to the known signed examples, and perhaps dates from 1934 or 1935, possibly among the very last ones sold by Hamilton. It is in excellent condition showing only very light wear. Caseback is excellent and unengraved, with a few minor marks. Case measures 38mm long and 27mm wide. Refinished luminous dial is superb. Has new glass crystal. This watch is powered by its correct 19-jewel Hamilton grade 979-F manual wind movement, just serviced and running strong.


Pictured following the watch images: Floyd Bennett, President Calvin Coolidge presenting Medal of Honor to Floyd Bennett (Richard Byrd also pictured), Alexander Hamilton Rice.