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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.

Monday, August 25, 2014

1938 Gilman

I think it's very interesting how some vintage Hamilton watches make their way to distant lands.  It's not surprising, of course, but it does make you wonder how they got there.

For example, I recently purchased a watch that came all the way home from England.  It is a 1938 Gilman - and I wonder how long it was expatriated?  Did it go over there for WWII?  Did a UK collector buy it from someone in the US in 2008?  Who knows?

Anyway - the Gilman was introduced in 1938 and produced through 1946, excluding a slight hiatus while production was dedicated to the war effort.


The Gilman sort of reminds me of a solid gold version of the gold filled 1938 Dickens.  The Dickens is a bit longer and more curved to fit the wrist though.

The Gilman came in a 14K solid gold case with only an applied gold numeral dial.  So it's a pretty straightforward model.  Tucked inside you will find a 19 jewel 982 movement in the 1938 and 1939 model.  In 1940 and later, the Gilman received the 19 jewel 982M medallion movement.

My Gilman project watch caught my eye mainly because it was in serious need of some love.  Fortunately the interest from other collectors must have ceased at the melt price of the gold - as I was able to land it for a very reasonable cost, just above scrap.

As received, it was really beat up and filthy.  This watch had definitely seen a lot of use but it was still running.


The corner of the bezel has a hole worn clear through to the inside.  Hopefully my local jeweler will be able to fill that for me.


The back of the watch is so dirty that I really can't read the engraving on the back very easily.  It has a nice presentation though - and that caught my interest too.  This watch was obviously very special to the recipient.


With the crystal out of the way, you can see that the original dial shows it's age.  Some folks like this original patina'd look.  Me, I'd rather see a nicely refinished dial once an original looks like this.  Dials like this can be redone to look like new and getting dials like this refinished was often a part of the general overhaul service, back in the day.


The 982 movement is in decent enough shape to run but can still stand to be cleaned and oiled.  The serial number dates to 1938, just as you'd expect, based on the engraving on the cace back.


The movement is completely disassembled, cleaned and then set out to dry before being put back together with fresh lubricants.


A little tweaking to the regulator brings the beat rate right in line.  I tend to leave watches running just a smidge fast.  The beat error of 3.3 is on the high end of acceptable.  I could probably reduce it but that's tempting fate with old balances like this.


A new crystal and a vintage Gemex strap almost complete the restoration.  Now that the watch is running great, I'll send the dial out to be refinished and I'll take the bezel to my local jeweler to fill in the wear hole.   I'll post an update when I get it all back together.


With all the dirt and funk removed, you can now read the engraving.  This was a very nice keepsake for Mr. Drinkwater from his friends... where ever he may be now.


A little googling of James D. S. Drinkwater revealed a couple of patents for construction equipment on behalf of Link Belt Corporation.  Maybe he received this watch for his 1938 Trough Washer Patent.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

1964 Sea Ruler

1964 was a banner year for Hamilton, it seems.  There were a number of new models introduced into the line up.  One of them was the 1964 Sea Ruler - it would continue to be produced though 1969.


 Like a lot of the Hamilton's from this period, the Sea Ruler came in a 10K rolled gold plate case.  The one-piece case opens through the faceted crystal to provide access to the Swiss-made Hamilton 686 movement tucked safely within.

I recently scored a project Sea Ruler, complete with it's original box and bracelet.  It arrived in typical fashion - rather grungy, but operable.


Aside from a layer of funk, the case is in good shape overall and should clean up well.


With the crystal out of the way, the dial is very nice.  There are a couple of minor scratches on the dial from a past watchmaker removing the hands - but other than that the dial looks new.


The 686 is an ETA-based movement and it's still bright and shiny.  However, based on the outside of the watch, I bet it's been a long time since this watch has visited the spa and had a thorough cleaning.


Everything is cleaned and readied for re-installation.


It's always a bit of relief when I drop the movement back into place and the watch starts running.  It's rare that it doesn't start running - but that's part of the thrill of restoring these fine timepieces.  Seeing the watch kick back to life is very rewarding.


The watch is running slightly fast but otherwise looks good.  I can easily slow it down with just a tiny move of the regulator.  This watch also allows for super easy beat error adjustment.


A little careful tweaking slowly brings the timing right in line and I was even able to reduce the beat error.  Nothing shabby about this watch's performance now.


Everything goes back into the case and the crystal is reinstalled after being gently polished to remove a few scratches.  The Sea Ruler only came originally on a bracelet so I'm happy to reinstall it's original bracelet, now that it's been thoroughly cleaned.


This watch turned out really well, I think.  It's too bad about the minor scratches on the dial.  At least I didn't do it.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

1956 Stormking IV Military

My last post was a Stormking III, so I told you a lot about the model line.  Some of the Stormking models are super rare.  One of them is the military version of the Stormking IV.  It's called the Stormking IV Military because it has a 24-hour dial.  It was produced from 1956 through 1959.


Like the regular Stormking IV, the Military comes in a 10K gold filled case with a stainless steel back.  Tucked inside you will find an 18 jewel 735 movement.  The 735 is a shock-jeweled upgrade to the 748 movement was discontinued in 1955.

The sterling silver dial of the Stormking IV Military is much more complicated than the 12-hour version because there are 24 solid 14K gold hour markers.  It takes 24 hours for the hour hand to make it around the dial so 12 noon looks like 6:00 on a regular dial.  That makes glancing at this watch and telling the time a little tricky, until you get used to it.

There's a circle of pearled dots inside the hour markers with luminous dots at the 2, 4, 8, 10, 14, 16, 20 and 22 hour positions.  The luminous dauphine hands glow in the dark too.

This is a very uncommon watch and I was fortunate enough to have a friend send me his.   As received, it came on a bracelet that looks like the sort of style that could be original to another model but it's not original to a Stormking IV or the Military version.  The crystal was beat up and if you look closely, there's no second hand.


The back screws off to reveal the movement, tucked safely inside a movement ring.


The dial has some spots but looks to be original.


A close look at the second hand bit shows that it's still there - so that's not the reason for the missing second hand.  It wasn't inside the watch so it was removed for some unknown reason.


The back of the dial is clear of any markings, so that's a good sign that this is an original dial too.


Here's a shot of the 24-hour setup on the left compared with a 12-hour setup on the right.  The diameter of the 24-hour hour wheel is larger than the regular wheel.  It has more teeth, as well.  The minute wheel is also different - it has fewer teeth to engage the hour wheel and it's a slightly smaller diameter on the pinion side of the minute wheel.


If I zoom in a little closer, you can see the differences between the two hour and minute wheel combinations.  Just those two parts are what make this Military version unique.



Everything gets cleaned and readied for reassembly.


It's running really well right out of the shoot.  I'll slow it down a little more but I tend to leave watches running just a little fast as I think they slow slightly over time.


A new crystal and a fine lizard strap make a dramatic improvement to the watch's appearance.  Fresh lume on the hands and dial doesn't hurt either.  I don't know what exact second hand the watch should have - not that I would have it anyway.  I did happen to have a spare Rodney second hand though so I installed that instead.


The Stormking IV Military is a very cool watch and a great conversation piece.  I like it... too bad I have to give it back.