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Greetings!

Thanks for visiting my vintage Hamilton watch blog. I like to restore US-made Hamilton wrist watches back to their original glory and share my experiences with other enthusiasts. Use the "Search" space below if you know what model you're looking for. Feel free to leave polite comments or questions in the spaces provided. Also check out my "watches for sale" on my Etsy site - the link is on the right, just below.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

1957 Winfield

One of the interesting things about vintage watches is they are relics of mortality.  The most obvious association with mortality is vintage watches were made by people who have lived and died.  In fact, their children's time on Earth may have also come and gone over the span of time a vintage watch has existed.   I suppose you could liken every vintage watch to a piece of art and art can be appreciated for centuries after the age of the artist has passed.

Another very unique and personal way vintage watches are relics is when you can find information about the original owner of the watch.  That can be very easy - if you inherit it.  I think most collectors I know originally had their interest piqued by inheriting a watch from their grandfather.

I recently purchased a watch that was presented for 50 years of service in the 1950's.  It's a 1957 Winfield and the model was produced for two years.


The Winfield was part of the Medalist line and a mid-grade model.  It has a solid 14K gold case, which would place it at the high end of the mid-grade models but it also has an embossed dial, which I assume lowered it's price point.  Other Medalist models had gold filled cases with sterling silver dials and applied solid gold markers or numerals.  

Tucked inside the case is an 18 jewel 8/0 size 735 movement, made in Lancaster PA.

My project watch arrived in good condition.  There are a couple of marks on the dial and the case is obviously well-worn but it looks like a great candidate for a restoration.


The back is engraved to Kelly J Bruce for 50 years of service to Katy Railroad.  Interestingly the date is late 1955... so how did a 1957 model get a 1955 presentation?  One explanation may be that the award was presented later in 1956 and the 1957 models were introduced in late 1956.


The bezel pops off to give access to the dial and movement inside the case back.  The movement can be lifted straight out of the back.  The dial on this watch is a white finish with embossed golden roman numerals and markers.  There's also a pearled minute track of gold dots.  The outside perimeter of the dial is a little irregular, especially between 5 and 6.  It doesn't look like a high quality dial, at least by Hamilton standards anyway.


The 735 is a shock jeweled version of the earlier 748 movement.


The inside of the case back is supported by a metal movement ring.  There are a bunch of watchmaker's service marks inside so this watch has obviously been to a watchmaker numerous times.


Everything is cleaned and ready for reassembly.


A new 30.3mm PHD crystal will be a nice enhancement for the watch.


The movement is reassembled and ticking away with good motion.


Things are looking good on the timer.  I'll leave it running a little fast as it will likely slow down after it settles back in.


I was able to clean the dial up a little and the watch turned out really well.  Just polishing the case was a huge improvement but a new crystal and a fresh strap make a big difference too.


Now you can see the engraving on the case back a little more clearly.


A little googling revealed some information about the owner.  Apparently he passed away just a year or so after this watch was presented and one week after he officially retired.  It was obviously well worn and well taken care of so perhaps his son or grandson inherited it.

Here's what I found out:

"The Denison Press, Denison, Tex. 8-1-1958: 

Funeral services for Kelly J. Bruce, 74, Katy engineer, were held at St. Luke's Episcopal church Saturday, July 26, at 9 o'clock, with the Very Rev. David A. Jones officiating. Interment was in Cedarlawn Memorial Park with Johnson-Moore in charge.

Mr. Bruce, a veteran of 53 years with the Katy railroad, died in the Katy employees' hospital Thursday, July 24, after an illness of two months. His home was at 130 E. Hull. He had been retired from the Katy one week.

He was born in Wise county, Virginia, June 14, 1884, the son of Mr. and Mrs. W. B. Bruce. He attended school in Flat Gap, Tennessee, and was married July 31, 1911 in Denison to Adeline Calvert. He had left Tennessee at the age of 18, going first to Kansas where he worked on a ranch for a short time. He then went to Dallas and started work with the Katy, coming to Denison after one year there. He had lived in Denison 54 years.

He was a member of St. Luke's church, the Eastern Star, Masonic Temple Shrine and the BofLE.

Survivors are his widow; one son, County Commission Wayne Bruce; a sister, Mrs. Carrie Zinkle, Jefferson City, Tennessee; several nieces and nephews, two grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren. 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

1957 Astramatic II

Not too long ago I did a post on the Automatic K-475.  It uses a very rare Hamilton movement, the 17 jewel 690.  There's another equally uncommon movement, the 25 jewel Hamilton 664.  It was used in only two models, the 1957 Astramatic I and the Astramatic II.   Based solely on sightings, I would say the Astramatic line is considerably rarer than the K-475.  The K-475 was much less expensive and produced for two years.

The Astramatic line was short lived... it was only produced for a single year.  The Astramatic I came in a solid 18K yellow gold case.  The Astramatic II came in a solid 14K yellow gold case.  So both models were considerably more expensive than many of the contemporary Automatic K-models offered at the same time - or even the Rotomatic line with the 23 jewel Hamilton 665 movement.

I really like the name too... reminds me of what George Jetson might have worn.


I've yet to see an Astramatic I but I recently came upon an Astramatic II for sale.  With a rare model like this, if you see it you had better buy it, as you may not see another for a while.



The Astramatic II was expensive.  In fact, it was the most expensive 14K watch in the lineup.  Like a couple of other models from the era, it featured "silhouette hands" where radium paint was applied to the back of the hands.  The glow of the hands flowed onto the dial, creating a silhouette when it was dark.  I'm sure it was very cool looking but after a few decades it can take it's toll on the dial.

After a little back and forth with the seller we agreed on a price.  The only concern I had with the watch was it was missing half of the marker at the 12 position.  I don't see it under the crystal but maybe it's somewhere inside the case.  You can see some spotting on the dial from the silhouette hands but it doesn't look too bad.


The solid 14K back shows a couple of scratches from past attempts to open the case.  Other than that it looks unremarkable - which is good.


I see a couple of watchmaker's marks inside so I know I'm following in a couple of people's footsteps.


The 664 looks just like the 661, 662, and the 665.  The only difference is it has 8 extra jewels - all of which are related to supporting the automatic framework.


Not only is the left side of the 12 marker missing, the 11 marker is lifted slightly off.  You can see the two holes for the 12 marker and the post on the 11 marker that goes into it's hole.  I just need to press the 11 marker back in place.


In this shot you can see the radium paint on the back of the dauphine hands.  That will come off in the ultrasonic.


I'll see what I can do about cleaning the dial but I don't want to lose the printing so I will be extra careful.


There are four red ruby jewels on the top of the framework and there are four more below.  That's the extra 8 over the typical 17 on the 661 movement.  This framework is also missing a screw.  That's not a big deal though, I'll take one from a donor 661.


Bushings are used on the 661 where the additional rubies are used on the 664.


Bit by bit, piece by piece, parts are stripped from the back.


While everything is being cleaned I will pull out my stash of old dials and look for potential replacements for the missing marker.


Maybe I can use this 12 marker?  That will change the look of the dial and the holes probably won't line up.


The markers from an old Rodney dial might be a good option.   You can see I've used this dial as a donor for markers before.  Based on the holes at the 3 position, these markers won't fit the Astramatic dial.


Well now... maybe this old Stormking III dial would work.  The 12 marker is sort of the right shape and perhaps I can file it into a triangle and less of an arrow.


Hold the phone... this 1957 K-203 dial has two triangular shaped markers that form a wedge shape at 12.  I bet I can use the marker on the right.


Everything is cleaned and dried.  Time to put it all back together.


The movement is back to running condition.  It's off to the timer to listen to it's ticking.


Not too shabby.  There are a couple of extraneous dots to investigate but this watch is looking good otherwise.


A new crystal is definitely in order and this 28.1mm high dome with do the trick.


Nailed it!  The K-203 donor saved the day and this Astramatic II is back to fully restored condition.  I also replaced the crown, as the other was a bit worn down and wobbly.  Paired with a fine genuine lizard strap, this Astramatic II is ready for wrist time.


Here's another shot of the dial on an angle.  My merciless light tent makes the center of the dial a little more toned than it appears in typical daylight.  The radium is gone now so no more damage will be done.




Sunday, September 10, 2017

1968-ish Dateline A-something (64028-3) European Model

Prior to 1969 Hamilton was considered an "American" watch company but that doesn't mean they didn't export models or make models specifically for for other markets.  For example, the Electric Ventura is arguably one of the most popular Electric models and was produced in solid 14K yellow and white gold.  However, 18K yellow gold models were made for the European market and 18K rose gold models were made for the South American market.  The 18K versions are especially sought after and valuable today (probably $15,000+).

Export models were not cataloged but many are known to exist and identified by their case numbers.  One of them is the 64028-3 and 64028-4.  The -3 designates the model has a stainless steel case.  The-4 designates a yellow case... electro-plate, perhaps filled, etc.  I say "export" but it's quite possible that it wasn't even assembled in the US.  It could just be an European model, as you'll see below.

I had done a post on the 64028-4 back in 2012.  It's an interesting model because it's one of a small handful of asymmetric models with automatic movements.


It's cushion-shaped case appears to have been inspired by the 1962 Electric Taurus.  The crown position at 4:30 makes for an interesting look and is also very "Electric-like".


I would estimate that the 64028 models would be considered Dateline A-somethings from the late 1960s because of the movement used inside as well as the similarity to other cataloged models produced at that time.

I recently came upon the stainless steel version known as the 60428-3 and it was in need of some TLC.  The dial on the -3 version is significantly different than the -4 version.  This watch looked a little odd to me and it took me a while to realize that it's missing the frame that surrounds the date window.  So the opening is a little larger than would normally be the case.


The etching on the outside of the case back makes identification very easy.


Opening the case back reveals a 21 jewel Hamilton 694A automatic movement.  This movement appears to be in good shape but everything inside has a sticky oily residue.  I guess it was well-preserved but it definitely needs a thorough cleaning.

Here's why I think this model was never produced in the US... check out the balance cock.  US models that used Swiss movements have an import code stamped on the balance cock.  In fact, if you look at Elgins, Bulova, etc. their Swiss-made movements have import codes too.  Hamilon's import code is "HYL" and there is no import code on this movement - thus it may have been assembled in Europe for the European market.


Here's a close up of the dial after the movement was removed from the case.  I was hoping I'd find the window frame loose inside the case somewhere but, alas it's missing in action, along with some of the lume on the hands.


The dial and hands are removed and I can set to work stripping parts from the front of the main plate.  I've been getting a lot of practice with this setup lately, as a lot of my recent projects have had date complications.


You can tell from the back of the dial that the markers (and presumably the window frame) are riveted on and each of the tiny post are shaved off as part of the riveting process.


The movement is cleaned, the case is polished and the crystal is buffed.  Time to put it all back together again.


The movement is reassembled and ticking away with good motion.  I'll check the timekeeping before I bother reassembling the front or the automatic framework.


Yikes... something is making extraneous noise inside.  It doesn't take much to throw the performance off... perhaps some dust or a tiny filament from my blue microfibre cloth.


The hairspring and pallet fork were re-cleaned and now I've got a clearer signal.  The beat error is way too high though.  That's not surprising as the hairspring stud looks like it's out of it's typical position.


Adjusting the hairspring stud centers the balance assembly and puts the watch better "in beat".  It's still running fast though so now I can slightly move the regulator index and slow the watch down.


These types of adjustments should only be done with the assistance of a watch timer.  You can really goof things up without a timer to tell you how it's running.  Adjustment requires a steady hand and the timer will tell if you're making things better or worse.


The beat rate has been slowed nicely and I'll leave it running a smidgen fast while I reassemble the rest of the movement.


A small dollop of microgliss lubricates the set lever and now I can go through the tedious task of adding all of the parts for the calendar complication.


This model must take a special date wheel - notice how the stem is between 12 and 13.  Typically the number should be centered with the stem but this model has the stem at 4:30, not 3:00.  The numbers on the date wheel must be shifted accordingly.


Well, I have to say this watch turned out better than I expected.  I wish it had the frame for the window opening but it still serves it's purpose.  I relumed the hands and polished the case and buffed crystal really brings the watch back to life.  Paired with a genuine lizard strap in black, this monochromatic model is ready for wrist time.


Since it's been five years since I last looked at the 64028-4, I decided to treat it to a spa visit as well.  So here's a photo of the two export siblings for direct comparison.  Which one do you prefer?