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 16, 2018

Modern-ish Khaki Field Watch

I suppose a watch from the 1990's would be considered "vintage" by many standards.  I think you could make a better argument that it would be considered a classic, at least this next post anyway.

Back in June I did a post on Hamilton's most modern military watch, the Mil-W-46374D, Type 1.  There are a number of Hamilton military models and quite a few fakes out there too, by the way.  The 46374D is arguably the best, in my opinion.  The GG-W-113 is a very close second.  The Mil-W-46374B is okay and looks almost identical but it's really meant to be disposable.   Unless it was in great shape, I'd pass on most 46374Bs.

One thing you'll find often posing as a military watch are the early Khaki models.  You'll also find Khaki models with the LLBean logo.  They're basically built the same way as military watches and even use the same movements.

Back in the Spring I restored a GG-W-113 as well as a British military W-10 field watch.  They both feature the Hamilton 649 movement which was based on the ETA 2750 caliber.  As I found out, there are a variety of Hamilton models from the 1970's and 80s that used the 649 movement.  One of them was an early Khaki field watch.

I recently came upon another Khaki field watch in serious need of some TLC.  I suspected it would also have a 649 movement, but I was pleasantly mistaken.

As received, you can see it has seen better days.  It's quite beat up and the minute hand has lost most of its lume.  Notice this watch doesn't have fixed spring bars.  It was intended to be used with a two-piece strap.

The case is a two-piece design, which I personally prefer since you don't need to contend with a rusty two-piece stem like on most front-loader designs.  The model number of this watch is 9415A.  I'm not exactly sure what years this was made but my guess is mid-to-late 1990's.

Low and behold, inside is an ETA 2801-2.  This is the same movement that is used in Hamilton's new Khaki Field watch that was re-introduced this year!  It's also what you'll find inside a Mil-W-46274D Type 1.

Once the hands are removed, there are little levers on opposing side that you swing out to free the dial feet so the dial can be lifted off.

The 2801-2 can be outfitted with a date complication and you can see the empty spaces where those parts could go.  Based on the luminous dust under the dial, this watch is long overdue for a cleaning.

This movement has a hack mechanism and the golden lever is temporarily attached to the bottom of the barrel bridge.

You can see 2801-2 and the ETA logo stamped under the balance wheel.

While the parts are in the cleaner I will clean and repaint the luminous hands.

I will also need to install a new crystal.  These models have a reflector ring that is a matte silver, just like the case.  So I will save the reflector ring and use it in the new crystal.

Looks like 28.5mm will do the trick.

I like the profile of Stella WRA crystals and they're my go-to choice for these applications.

Everything is cleaned and ready to be reassembled.

I need to remember to reinstall the gold hack lever.  Most watches don't hack so it's easy to forget this very specialized part.  It engages the clutch wheel and pivots when the watch is in time-setting position.  The long side of the lever will just touch the balance wheel and stop the watch until the clutch moves back into the winding position.

The watch is ticking away.  The 2801-2 has a 28K beat per hour rate so it's noticeably faster than a garden variety vintage watch with an 18K BPH rate.  28K is crazy fast in comparison.

Whoa... something isn't right.  Maybe a spec of dust on the hairspring or pallet fork.

I recleaned the hairspring several times and finally got a clean signature.  The amplitude is a little low but that could be related to having not wound the watch up a lot.

Well, a new crystal and fresh luminous paint makes a world of difference, don't you think?  This watch looks very similar to the new Khaki field watch but it's a little smaller.

Here's a photo of Hamilton's new Khaki Field Mechanical.  I think it's more closely inspired by the Mil-W-46274D but there's no doubting the strong family resemblance.  The new model is 38mm in diameter while my project watch is closer to 33mm.

Before the 9415A there was the 921980 (I'm guessing from the 1980s).  Can you spot some of the differences?  First, the older model uses the stylized H and modern italic Hamilton logo.  The 9515A used the more vintage sans-serif logo that WWII-era watches used.  It's the same logo the new Khaki Field Mechanical uses too, by the way.  Also, the numbers on the 9415A are slightly bolder than on the 921980 version.  You can't tell from the outside that the two Khaki models use different movements.  The locations of the dial feet are not the same so dials are not interchangeable, even though they are both based on ETA grades.

Just to spice things up a little more, here are the two Khakis with their big brother, the Mil-W-46374D.  The military watch (with the red strap) does not say Hamilton on it - at least on the outside. The hour markers are triangles, as opposed to dots.  So you can see the new Khaki Field draws most of it's inspiration from the Mil-W-46374D, including using the same movement - the ETA 2801-2.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

1957 Essex - dial variation

I try not to do posts on models I've already done but sometimes I make exceptions for something interesting.  Back in 2013 I did a post on the 1956 Essex and that post was a bit unusual since the watch had an uncatalogued dial.  I've seen other examples with the same dial, so I'm fairly confident it's a legitimate Essex.

I recently came upon another Essex in the wild with another dial, and I realized it was the dial variation introduced in 1957 and continued in 1958.

Originally the Essex was part of the Hamilton Illinois line and called the Debonair E.  It had numerals at the even hour positions and markers at the odd hours.  The markers appear to be arrow heads at 3 and 9 and diamonds at the other positions.  You could get the watch on a special bracelet or on a strap.

In 1956 the Illinois line was dropped and the Essex was introduced.  The bracelet was changed to a different style but the dial appears to be the same pattern as on the Debonair E.  It also appears to say something above the 6, maybe "incabloc" but that would be very unusual for a Hamilton model.  Perhaps this dial pattern was changed and not actually used?  I don't recall ever seeing an Essex with this dial but I can't claim to have seen them all either.

Anyway, in 1957 the dial pattern was changed to a unique textured pie-pan design with numerals a 12, 3, 6 and 9 and keystones at the other positions.  The same bracelet was offered.  This design continued in 1958.

My project watch caught my eye because I immediately recognized the shape of the Essex bezel but the dial struck me as unusual.  When I realized it was legit I decided I wanted to see it in person.  As received it has a lot of wear to the high points of the bezel and it must have had a bracelet originally, as there are grooves worn into the insides of the lugs.

The back is stainless steel and otherwise unremarkable.

Without the crystal in the way, you can see the dial has a unique texture and the shape of the pattern inside the markers reminds me of a flower.  The word HAMILTON is a bit faint so I will have to be very careful cleaning the dial or I could lose it completely.

This watch has been through a lot of watchmakers' hands, there are number of marks inside.

The Hamilton 671 inside is based on an ETA 1080 and largely like the automatic version of the 672 but without the automatic framework strapped onto the back.

I'll prep a new high dome crystal for installation while all the parts are in the cleaner. 28.1mm should do the trick.

Everything is ready to be reassembled.

The movement is noticeably brighter now that it's clean.  There are lots of brass spots showing through the nickel plating.  This watch has seen a lot of use.

According to the timer something is going on inside and making extra noise.  It doesn't take much, just a tiny spec of dust on the hairspring or pallet fork will cause the timing to vary.

I recleaned the hairspring and voila!  The watch is running a little fast but that's nothing a tweak or two to the regulator won't fix.

A poke here and a tweak there... eventually I get the beat rate to even out at 10 seconds fast per day.  Not too shabby.

Well, this tired old watch doesn't look too terrible with a nice strap and a fresh crystal.  It certainly runs like it's still spry, considering it's at least 60 years old!

Sunday, August 26, 2018

1959 Sloane

Hamilton had a few different strategies for naming models.  Initially their marketers were rather unsophisticated and just named models after their shape... Barrel, Square, Cushion, etc.

Eventually they spiced things up with models named after high-end resorts... Piping Rock, Coronado, etc.

There was a special line called the Explorer series that were named for famous work explorers.

Eventually a trend was started where men's models received mens' names and ladies models received womens' names.  There are different theories about how models were named but the one I personally suspect is they were named for noteworthy employees or friends of the Hamilton Watch Co leadership.  This might be the case since some models sound more like surnames than first names.

Of course, I don't know if that's true and I think it's very odd that some fairly common names were not used... like Joseph, Matthew, David or, may favorite, Daniel.  Go figure.

Some names you've probably heard of but might not actually know anyone with that name.  I think a good example of that phenomena is the 1959 Sloane.  The model was produced for three years.

The only Sloane that I can recall is Ferris Bueller's girlfriend, Sloane Peterson.  Remember her?  You might also recall Ferris's best friend, Cameron - another Hamilton model (in fact, two).  It's interesting that both names, Sloane and Cameron, are male & female names.

The Hamilton Sloane was a mid-grade model in the line up and one of the least expensive models with a Lancaster-made movement.  It was offered with a yellow or white gold filled case and with black or white dials.  So there are four varieties out there, if you're a Sloane-fan.

Some of the cost-cutting aspects of the model are it has a stainless steel back and an embossed dial with yellow or silver colored markers - they are not solid gold applied markers like traditionally used on US-made models.

Despite those entry-level attributes, the Sloane is still a very high quality watch and features a 17 jewel shock protected 730 movement.

I like the looks of the Sloane and although it's not very big, it presents to be larger than it is.  That's probably partly due to the wide rectangular TV-shaped bezel and the textured pattern on the on the right & left sides of the dial.

My project watch looks pretty good, except for the crack in the crystal.

This watch was a serviced award for a Reading Gas employee for 25 years of service in 1962.

Without the bezel and crystal blocking the view, you can see the dial appears to be original and in great shape.

The 730 movement is a great movement, in my opinion.  It doesn't get the same love that the 12/0 size 770 movement with 22 jewels does but the 17 jewel 730 is a breeze to work on and it's just as shock protected as the 770.

While all the parts are in the cleaner I will prep a new glass crystal for installation.

Everything is cleaned and dried.  Now it's time to reassemble the movement with fresh lubricants.

Glass crystals are best installed with UV cement and nothing cures UV cement better than a little sunshine.

The reassembled movement is ticking away with a good motion... now it's off to the timer to listen to it's ticking.

Not too shabby... my only criticism of the Lancaster-made movements is they have fixed hairspring stud locations on the balance cock.  So adjusting the beat error is a little harder than on some of the Swiss-made ebauches' that Hamilton used.  I think 1.4ms is very acceptable for a watch from this era and although I could reduce it, I could also goof it up accidentally.  The extra "juice" from an attempt to improve the beat error really isn't work the extra "squeeze" and the risk of ruining an otherwise excellent hairspring.

Paired with a genuine alligator strap in a deep tan color, this Sloane now looks as great as it runs.  This is definitely a sharp looking model.