Very rare Hamilton “Captain Rice” men’s Streamline Moderne design wristwatch in solid 14K white gold, circa 1944.
Among the most desirable of the early Hamilton models, the 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, Hamilton notified its dealers it was renaming the watch the “Captain Rice” but did not give a reason. A mere 601 were produced in white gold, all handmade by the mysterious Perrin Watch Case Co. The watch was cataloged only in 1931 and 1932 and most of the 601 were produced during that span, with Hamilton announcing in 1933 that the watch had been discontinued. However, Hamilton records reveal that the watch was sold in very limited numbers for another 11 years, presumably to fulfill special requests, ending when Hamilton sold a single and final example in 1944 with a 987 movement. This is likely the final Captain Rice sold by Hamilton and is in excellent condition showing only very light wear. The beveled edge of the bezel is still completely distinct. Caseback is excellent, with a 1944 presentation engraving. Case measures 38mm long and 27mm wide. Refinished luminous dial is superb. Has new glass crystal. This watch is powered by its correct 17-jewel Hamilton grade 987-E movement, just serviced and running strong.