Welcome


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.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

1965 Thinline 2015

After posting over 700 models, it's getting harder to find new models.  I think I've found most of the easy models to locate but even less common models show up from time to time.  Take for instance the 1965 Thinline 2015 - it was only made for a single year.


The Thinline 2015 is an interesting model.  Its case is solid 14K gold.  Inside the case is what is effectively a ladies watch movement - which turns out isn't that uncommon for watches from the later 1960s.

My project watch arrived in well-used condition.  The dial is very dirty but it's an original dial and has a unique textured finish so it would be very hard to get refinished properly, based on my experience.  The bracelet on the watch isn't original but it seems to go nicely with the florentine engraving on the bezel.


I suspect the crown is a replacement since it doesn't have an H logo but otherwise it fits well.


This watch isn't a small watch by vintage standards.  It could easily fit a 12 size 770 movement.  The case back has a unique contour to it, indicating that the movement inside is fairly small or thin.


The dial isn't terrible but it is very dirty.  Hopefully a little light cleaning will improve it but I want to take extra care not to lose the finish or the Hamilton printing.


Check out the recess in the case back for the movement... it's round.  That's definitely not for a 770. There are two numbers inside.  The number at the bottom ends with 65, that's the serial number and it indicates the model was introduced in 1965.


The movement inside is a 17 jewel 680 but you have to look VERY closely, this movement is tiny.


Check out the dial side of the movement relative to my thumbnail... they're the same size.


Everything is taken apart and cleaned.  I also polished the acrylic crystal to get rid of the scratches that were on it.


The reassembled movement is ticking away in my smallest movement holder.   Now it's off to the timer to listen to the ticking.


Well that's not too shabby.  Notice the beat rate is 21,600 beats per hour.  This is one of the very few pre-1969 models to not have an 18,000 BPH beat rate.


My merciless light tent does not do this watch justice.  Instead it reveals every flaw, including the wear through on the expansion bracelet.  I was going to change the bracelet but I don't have an 18mm strap on hand at the moment.


In normal daylight the watch looks much better.  I was able to clean up the dial slightly but this is about as good as it will get without doing something drastic and that should only be done if you're willing to get the dial refinished, which I'm not.  It's not bad looking though, I think it makes the watch look very authentic.


Monday, March 11, 2019

1955 Stormking II

There are a few Hamilton models that have a strong family resemblance, and they're good looking too, which isn't always the case when it comes to family resemblances.  In this case I'm referring to the Stormking family and there are actually 12 different family members ranging from the Stormking I through the Stormking XI.

What's that you say, there's no Stormking XII, how could there be 12?  Well the Stormking IV actually came in a 24 hour version called the Stormking IV Military.  I've only gotten through 6 of them but I can now check off number 7 - the 1955 Stormking II.


The Stormking II was introduced in 1955 and made through 1957.  If you didn't buy it earlier, by 1957 the price increased from $150 to $175... that was an increase of over $220 in today's dollars.

 One reason the Stormking II was so expensive is it came in a solid 14K gold case.  If that was too much to swing you could always go with the Stormking III, it had a 14K gold case too but with a stainless steel case back.

Inside the Stormking II case you will find an 8/0 sized 735 movement although an earlier 1955 model might still have a 748 movement.  A 735 is more probable though.

I recently picked up a Stormking II and it came with an interesting dial with a company logo from United Gas representing a 25 year service award.


The back of the watch is engraved with simply two initials and a last name.  I guess they must have been charged by the letter.


This case back in on TIGHT.  Although the recesses help a case wrench grab ahold, you still need to hang on to the rest of the case.  Plus, if you're not super careful the wrench will slip and gouge the softer gold case back with three deep scratches.  My best chance of success will be to use a case holder and a bench vice - that way I can focus all of my attention on making sure the wrench doesn't slip.


Voila!  The 735 is revealed.  The gasket inside was what was holding the case back on so tight.


The 735 is basically a shock-jeweled version of the 748.

The movement is completely disassembled and ultrasonically cleaned before being reassembled.  I'll also apply fresh luminous paint to the hands.


The reassembled movement is ticking away but it doesn't quite look right to my eye.


Sure enough, the watch has an usual beat rate and the timer is picking up 19800 beats per hour instead of 18000.


I recleaned the hairspring a couple of times and finally got a clean signal.  I'll have to speed it up a smidgen but not by too much.


A new crystal will be an easy to do improvement.


The freshly cleaned movement is recased along with a fresh gasket.


The finished watch turned out great.  New lume and a new crystal really do a vintage watch a lot of good.  Now to find the 18K gold version - the Stormking I.


Sunday, March 3, 2019

1962 Montclair II

There are a few Hamilton models that you just never see in the wild and one of them is the 1962 Hamilton Montclair II.  It was only produced for a single year and it was expensive, so there aren't that many of them out there.


There's a very similar model called the Montclair that was introduced in 1959 and made for three years but if you look closely the lugs are slightly different, not to mention the hands.


The Montclair II came in a solid 14K gold case and was priced at $100 in 1962.  That's over $800 in today's dollars.

The Montclair II  looks a lot like later Thinline models and you might be inclined to identify it as a Thinline except it won't say SWISS on the dial.  The Montclair II has a 17 jewel 731 movement under the dial that was made in Lancaster, PA.

I recently landed a Montclair II and it's the first example I've ever seen, in the flesh or online.


The back of the one-piece 14K case is unengraved, other than with Hamilton and 14 Karat Gold.




The crown on this example is shot but you can just barely make out the H logo that was on it.


The inside of the case back has a watchmaker's marks inside so it's been overhauled at least once in the last 60 years.


The 17jewel 731 is an upgraded 730 movement, which was an upgraded 747 movement.  The only difference between the 731 and the 747 is the balance is shock protected and it's a Glucydur balance - so there are no timing screws on the balance.  Those are pretty significant differences though.


Everything is take apart and cleaned before being reassembled.


The reassembled movement is ticking away with good motion, so it's off to the timer.


Hmm... the amplitude is a little low at 190 degrees.  I'd like to see it well over 200.  I wonder if the barrel cover isn't seated properly?


Well, it wasn't the barrel cover or even the mainspring.  I changed both and the amplitude didn't come up.  Fortunately I have a spare 731 movement so I just swapped it out and it's performance is much better.


A new crystal is definitely in order and will make a huge improvement.


Check out this finished watch... good as new.  I replaced the crown with a new crown, it doesn't have an H logo but otherwise looks very good, I think.  This is a sharp-looking watch but it's not very large, maybe 31mm wide so it's could easily be worn by a woman with today's standards,

The green tinge by the 5 marker is actually a reflection of my case opening ball that happened to be in the light tent when I took the photo.