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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, June 24, 2018

1956 Landon B

B-models were typically used (starting in the 1950's) when a model got a movement change that required a different case.  So you will see a lot of B models in the 1952 timeframe when Hamilton transitioned from 14/0 sized movements to 12/0 movements.  You will see them again in the 1956 timeframe when Hamilton introduced the 12/0 sized 770 movement that replaced the 8/0 sized movement in some models.  If the 770 replaced an earlier 12/0 movement like a 753 or 754, the model name stayed the same, since the case didn't have to change.

In those situations the regular model came first and then the B model came later... for example the Austin was followed by the Austin B and the Parker was followed by the Parker B.  There are a buck of models like that and, with a coupe of exceptions, you can't tell a B model from the earlier model from the outside.

However, in 1956 there were also a variety of B models that were introduced when Hamilton decided to discontinue the Hamilton Illinois line.  The Illinois line was introduced to test the market - and see if Hamilton buyers would turn up their noses at Swiss-made movements.  First it was the Illinois line, then the Hamilton Illinois line and, when all hell didn't break loose, Swiss movements entered the Hamilton line.

But what to do about all the extra Illinois-branded movements in inventory?   Well, use them up in B-models and once they're exhausted switch over to new Hamilton-branded Swiss-made movements.  A good example is the 1956 Landon B.  It was made for only one year and then in 1957 & 58 it was known as the Landon.


It's interesting to note that the two models are almost identical but they're not completely the same.  Other than the movement inside, the only other difference is the Landon B has dots at the even numbered hours and the Landon has wedge-shaped markers.  The prices were the same though but they did have different product numbers for the strap and bracelet-equipped options.


Knowing how to spot the difference between a Landon B and a Landon, you can quickly determine that my project watch is a Landon.  You might also be able to tell that the crown is an obvious replacement.


The case on the watch looks really good - almost unworn.


The casebook has the classic 12/0 sized cutout and is clearly marked Landon "B" inside.  The number inside the case is a unique serial number for the watch and doesn't mean anything other than there's probably a Landon B out there somewhere with a serial number ending in 486 or 488.


The movement inside the Landon B is an Illinois branded ETA 1220.  It didn't get any special markings other than the Illinois name.  The TXD on the balance cock is the import code for Illinois so all Hamilton Illinois movements have TXD on them, regardless of grade.

Notice how long the stem tube on the crown is.  That means the stem on the movement is very short and I'll have to find a better looking dress crown with a long tube or I'll need to replace the stem too.


Most Swiss-made movements are stamped under the balance with the makers mark in a shield and the number of the caliber.  If you look closely you can make out ETA and 1220.


Everything is taken apart and cleaned.  It's been a while since I've worked on a basic manual winding movement - so this is like a mini-watchmaking vacation for me.


Although the listing for this movement said it was "serviced", I think the parts look a lot shinier now than when I started.  I think some people think "serviced" means additional oil has been applied to the jewels.  The watch is now properly overhauled now so it's time to see what the timer thinks of it.


Well, not too shabby but the beat error of 3.9ms is a little higher than my upper spec limit.  The closer to zero the better, below 1 is good and between 1 and 3 I'll live with.  Unfortunately, although this is an ETA movement and usually ETA movements are easy to adjust, this is an earlier ETA grade and it's even more difficult to adjust than US-made Hamilton movements.  The regulator fork need to be opened in order to free the hair spring and the closed after the adjustment - so that's two great opportunities to screw up the hairspring if you're not extremely careful (or even if you are).


Phew!  I was able to dial in the beat error to under 1.0 and that's plenty good for me.  I can easily slow it down now.


Now, what to do about the crown?  I don't have a replacement stem but what I did find is a stem extender.  This sort of solution rarely fits the bill but it's perfect for this scenario.  I just thread the extension onto the existing stem and them trim the extension to the proper length for the new crown.


I don't know about you but I think the new crown makes all the difference in the world on this watch. It looks great now.  Of course, a little polishing and a nice strap didn't hurt.  I believe the dial on this watch is original and the toning in the corners is just enough to give this 60 year old watch a dignified, authentic, vintage watch look.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

1913 Hamilton 972 Pocket Watch for NAWCC 75th Jubilee

I try not to do repeat posts of models that I've done in past but I make exceptions when I have a good reason.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the National Association of Watch & Clock Collectors, or the NAWCC.  This organization is a tremendous resource for horologists and collectors from all over the world.  They are marking this noteworthy anniversary with a "For All Time" celebration.


The NAWCC is worth supporting and I started a "gofundme" campaign to raise $5,000 on behalf of "the friends of Hamilton Chronicles" over the month of June.  The month is half over and I'm almost halfway to my goal.  Can you help me get there?



Donations are 100% tax deductible, you'll get a receipt from PayPal for your records.  I get nothing from the campaign, other than the satisfaction of knowing I've developed friendships with fellow Hamilton collectors all over the world.

However, to sweeten the deal, I'm going to raffle off the watch in this post as part of the campaign.  Every $25 donation is a chance to win.  Donate multiples of $25 for multiple chances to win.  It all goes to a good cause and you've got a much better chance of winning this watch than you do of winning the lottery or getting struck by lightening - so that's something to consider too.

The watch in question is over a 100 years old and it dates to a time when Hamilton was known as the "the watch of railroad accuracy".  Wrist watches were "for women" - and no self-respecting man of distinction would be without a fine pocket watch.  There were none finer than a Hamilton.


There were a surprising number of different grades of pocket watches in 1913.  Men's models started at 12 Size and went through 18 Size.  Grades offered a minimum of 17 jewels and went through 19, 21 and 23 jewel variants.

The 972 was an excellent mid-level pocket watch.  It was "railroad approved" on some smaller regional lines as long as it met the dial and hand requirements.  You could also get it in a configuration for a hunting case, and that would make it a 973.  Back in 1913 you would select a movement and then a separate case.  The jeweler would then complete the assembly for you.


My project watch is in very nice overall condition.  The dial has a couple of hairlines and tiny fleabite  by the 50 second mark but otherwise it looks terrific.


The case shows no wear through at all and the bow is stiff.  So I don't think this watch got a lot of regular use.


The movement looks great and the jewel settings are fairly bright.  That means this watch was probably serviced at some point in the last 10 years, I bet.


This watch predates the jewelry standard of "filled gold".  I don't think it's solid gold but it's definitely very heavy gold filled at a minimum.


The movement is missing two of the three dial feet.  That was unexpected.  A donor movement will provide the needed spares.


This watch is negative set, so the sleeve in the case holds the watch in the winding position.  Once the movement is outside of the case, the springs under the dial move the watch into the setting position.


The screw holding on the balance cock is an obvious replacement.  It doesn't match the head design of the other bridge screws.


Up until the mid 1930's, Hamilton marked all of the main bridges with the serial number of the movement.  That makes it easy to spot if a part gets swapped.


The mainspring inside the barrel is a blue steel variety.  It could be okay but I'm willing to bet it has set and needs to be replaced.


Sure enough, the mainspring is still a tight coil, relatively speaking.


A new white alloy mainspring will make a big difference in how long the watch runs on a full wind.  They come pre-coiled and you get one chance to get them into the barrel - otherwise you have to rewind them.  Pocket watch mainsprings can really pack a wallop and you need to be careful when unraveling them.


Everything is cleaned and dried.  A pocket watch takes up a lot of real estate when it's all laid out.


Here's an oblong shot of the difference between the old mainspring (left) and the new spring on the right.  There's also an old 6/0 size mainspring in the gutter on the extreme right, for comparison.


It took a couple of tries but I finally got the mainspring into the barrel with the t-end lined up correctly.


The train wheels are all in place and I'm ready to put the barrel bridge back in place.


With the pallet fork in place, the movement is now ready to be wound up.  Then I can install the balance.


The best way to wind the watch is to install it in the case and use the crown.  That way you can use the crown to overcome the springs in the watch and put it in the winding position.


The watch is now running with good motion... it's off to the timer to see how it's performing.


That's not too bad.  If this was my personal watch I would stop right here.  A beat error of 1.5ms is well within my specs of under 3.0ms.  However, the closer to zero the better and since this is a special watch to celebrate Hamilton and the NAWCC, I feel obliged to see if I can improve it.


Alright... it doesn't get much better than that.


The movement goes back into the case.


The finished watch looks as great as it runs.   What an awesome pocket watch this will be for some lucky donor!


I'm going to hold the raffle at the end of the month.  If you appreciate vintage Hamiltons or you appreciate the work I do and what I share on the blog, please me to reach my $5,000 goal for the NAWCC.  Every donation counts and your generosity is appreciated!



Again, donations are 100% tax deductible, you'll get a receipt from PayPal for your records.  I get nothing from the proceeds of the campaign.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

1968 Dateline TM-4900

A new class of micro rotor automatics was released in 1968.  Some had calendar complications and some did not.  Those with calendar complications were included in the Dateline series and the designation TM was added, representing Thin-o-matic.

One of the new models was the 1968 Dateline TM-4900.  It was produced through 1971.


The TM-4900 came in a 10K yellow gold filled one-piece case with either a matching bracelet or on a strap.

My project watch has some obvious issues - like the crown doesn't seat on the stem tube.  The watch appears to run but the date does not advance.  So something is going on under the dial.


Some Thin-o-matics have ETA movements with a curved case back.  However, a flat case back is a sure sign that there's a micro rotor inside.


Uggh... do I really want to tackle one of these movements again?  These Buren-made movements utilize an offset center wheel (visible with the silver bushing just left of center).  They are notorious for having issues where the movement keeps excellent time but the watch appears to run slow, thanks to the cannon pinion that is integrated into the center wheel design.


The oscillating weight on the back of the movement has been rubbing the inside of the case back.  In fact, there's now a groove on the inside of the case at the extreme left side.  With the movement out of the way, the crown is now fully seated so the female side of the two-piece stem needs to be trimmed a bit for a better fit.


The oscillating weight is fully seated but it's wobbly.  The framework for it is either worn out or it has another issue.


There's some rust on the male-side of the stem and it's started to tone the date wheel at the number 18.


Fortunately I have a donor movement.  It has some issues too (like it's super-hard to wind) but between the two movements hopefully I can assemble one good one.


The calendar complication on this movement is very familiar to some other 1970s models.  As the hour wheel turns, it engages a couple of wheels that eventually turn a large golden wheel.  As the large wheel turns it will slowly stick out a finger that advances the date wheel counter clockwise.


The bottom of the oscillating weight is missing it's pivot... thus the wobble.


Fortunately the donor movement has a good part to utilize.


Everything is cleaned and readied for reassembly.  There are a variety of very small, but different, screws and it's important that they go in the proper places.


Well, it took a while... about twice as long as a typical movement, but I got the movement back together and running.


Hmm... something is making a little extra noise inside.  Could be the hairspring, could be the pallet fork, or it could be both.


I suspect it was the pallet fork and eventually I got it to run cleanly.  Now I just need to speed it up.


Okay - not too shabby.  I'll leave it here for now.


In order to put the hands back on I need to advance the time until the date changes.  I put it back in the case so I can use the crown.  Then I can install the hands on at "midnight" so the date will advance at the correct time.


The last thing to do is to trim the stem so the crown seats flush.  This is actually a different crown, with an H logo, but I still needed to trim the stem.


Unfortunately the dial has some speckling, probably thanks to the same moisture that rusted the stem.  There's nothing I can do to improve the dial but it doesn't look too terrible.  This is a sharp-looking 1960's watch but I still don't have any love for the 2nd generation of micro rotors.  I will need to observe the watch to make sure the hands move as they should... if they don't, I'll have to take it apart again and change the center wheel or try to tighten the cannon pinion.  Wish me luck!