On Monday 28 May 1866, Hamilton & Inches opened its doors for the very first time. The company's founders, Robert Kirk Inches and his Uncle James Hamilton, were already experienced in the goldsmith and jewellery trade. Their strong credentials helped to quickly establish the business, though the early days were not without their difficulties. For the first two years Robert slept under a counter in the shop, as they were unable to hire a night watchman.

Also in the 1860s...

Dynamite is invented by Alfred Nobel, Dmitri Mendeleev develops the periodic table, and the American Civil War takes place.

James McCaskell's Story

Also in the 1870s...

The telephone is invented, the light bulb is invented, and Around The world in 80 Days is written by Jules Verne.

Also in the 1880s...

Radio waves are transmitted and received for the first time, the first automobile is introduced and the first skyscraper is built.


James Hamilton retired, allowing his two nephews and their successors continued use of his name. Shortly afterwards James Kirk Inches retired, leaving Robert Kirk Inches the sole figurehead.


In its 21st year, Hamilton & Inches moved to larger premises at 87/88 Princes Street. As the reputation of the company grew Robert Inches was honoured with a Royal appointment.


Hamilton & Inches acquired established clock makers Robert Bryson & Sons in 1893. By the turn of century, two of Robert Kirk Inches’ sons were associated with the business. In 1900, Robert passed away, leaving his younger brother Edward to be made a partner. Edward James Inches was trained in watch-making at L'Ecole d'Horologerie in Switzerland, and also served his apprenticeship in London's Bond Street.


Mr Robert Dundas Arniston was presented with a 3 ft 3" cup weighing 1000 ounces in recognition of his service as Governor of Midlothian. The spectacular piece made by Hamilton & Inches is arguably the largest piece of silver ever made and hallmarked in Scotland.

Maxine Dundas' Story

On 11 March 1898 the Edinburgh Evening News published an article showing a gold pendant which H&I made for my great-great-grandfather...

Also in the 1890s...

Rudolf Diesel invents the diesel engine, Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book is published, and the first modern Olympic Games is held.


Hamilton & Inches made and fitted the famous clock in what is now the Balmoral Hotel, Princes Street. The clock is set 3 minutes fast to help thousands of passengers catch their trains each day, and adjusted at Hogmanay to stop the celebrations starting early. © Capital Collections

Jimmy Robertson's Story

Also in the 1900s...

The Wright brothers pilot the first powered aeroplane, Einstein proposes special relativity, and the Panama canal is constructed.


Edward James Inches, already in the Territorial Army, served in the Royal Field Artillery throughout WWI. He was awarded the DSO in 1917 and ultimately reached the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.

Robert Kirk Inches is Knighted

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