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, February 7, 2016

1955 Mystery Automatic K-2...something

One of the things I appreciate with vintage Hamiltons is you usually don't have to worry about "counterfeit" models.  That said, you do have to be mindful of recased movements or in some situations "frankens", or watches that are assembled from parts - as in Frankenstein.   Every collector has bought a franken at one point or another.

I recently had someone contact me regarding what they believed was a K-100 that would wind manually but not automatically.  Being part of the 100 line, it would have a solid 18K gold case and there are not a lot of them out there.  So I agreed to take it on.

The K-100 was introduced in 1955 and produced for three years.  In addition to the 18K case, it also has moveable lug covers that span between the lugs.

The watch that I received was not a K-100 and I'm not really sure what it is, to be honest.

If you look closely at the dial, it appears to be very close to a K-100 dial, but it doesn't have lines going through the hour markers and the numbers don't look like a perfect match.  Check out the shape of the 8s, for example.

The case isn't a good match either.  The lugs don't appear to be even close to the K-100s, even if the lug covers were missing.

The case back has no markings whatsoever.  It looks like its been overly polished so perhaps the original markings were polished away?

Well, the inside of the case back has at least a dozen watchmaker's marks inside from past overhauls.  It's marked "Hamilton W. Co Lancaster PA" - so that's a good sign that it's a legitimate model.  If it didn't say that I would declare this watch to be a franken, but I can't go there yet.  I don't recognize the case maker's mark... let me know if you do.

Moving on to the back, the movement looks pretty dirty so I wouldn't say this watch was cleaned any time in the recent past.  I expected to see the rotor had come loose (explaining the lack of winding) but it's attached.

Well, if the font of "AUTOMATIC" on the front of the dial wasn't a good clue, the markings on the back of the dial are a clear indicator that this dial has been redone at least once.  Maybe it was a K-100 dial originally - but I'm still not sure based on the shape of the numbers.

This is something you don't see every day... the main plate has been cleaned clear of it's nickel plating.  It should be an even silver color but now it looks like brass.

With the barrel bridge and train bridge out of the way, you can see the other side of the main plate is bare as well.  I have a spare main plate from a parts movement - so I'll just swap main plates once I get all of the other parts out.

I found the issue with the automatic winding.  The bushings for the transmission wheels are oval.  My tweezers are pointed at one, there is another just to the upper right.  Looks like someone in the past put a jewel in one of the bushings for the reversing wheels, down by where it says "Swiss Unadjusted".  This watch has had a LOT of wear and this underscores why it's important to regularly clean and oil mechanical movements.

Everything is cleaned and ready to be reassembled.

The train bridge goes on to cover the four wheels.  The nickel plated main plate looks much better than the stripped brass plate, don't you think?

The movement is now running, so it's off to the timer.

Something is going on with the balance... a little too much noise so I'll reclean the hairspring.

There, that's much better.  Now to just slow it down a little by tweaking the regulator.

Slowly the two lines approach horizontal.

Now I will flip the movement over and put all the setting parts back on before reinstalling the dial.

Now I can put a new rotor carrier on the back of the movement.  This one has better bushings so the oscillating weight will actually wind the watch.


The crystal that came with the watch was a little beat up but it was also too small and rotating in the bezel.


Well, here's the finished watch.  The over polishing of the back makes me think perhaps the front was over polished too - so maybe the lugs should be less rounded?  There are only five 14K K-2XX models out there and this case does not match any of them.  So this is an odd watch... let me know if you think you know what it is.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

1961 Sea Guard

Most Hamilton models are gold or silver, but rarely are they both.  Hamilton even went to the trouble of rhodium plating yellow gold figures when the case was white gold or gold filled.

There are a few "silver and gold" models out there though, and one of them is the 1961 Sea Guard.  It was produced through 1963.

You can't tell from the catalog image but the write up explains that the stainless steel case is contrasted with a gold chapter ring and gold links going down the center the of the bracelet.  It's a very nice looking watch, in my opinion.

Tucked inside the waterproof case is a Swiss-made Hamilton 688 manual winding movement.  This ETA-made grade is a manual winding sibling of the automatic 689 made in the same period.

I recently had a fellow collector send me one of his new acquisitions.  It looked familiar, as I think he out-bid me for it... which seems to happen quite frequently nowadays.  What drew both of our attentions though, is it came with it's original bracelet!

As received, it was in nice looking condition.  All it really needs is a trip to the spa and fresh lubrication.

Like most "waterproof" models of the 1960's, the Sea Guard is a front-loader.  So it opens through the crystal and a special tool is needed to compress the crystal and lift it off the case.  The "waterproof" models all carried a disclaimer - the seals in the crown have to be good, otherwise water can still get in.  As a general rule, you should keep all watches, even modern ones, away from water unless you know for sure that the crown seals are solid.

My movement photo is a little blurry but you can tell this movement looks very nice, but that doesn't mean the oil inside hasn't evaporated.

This movement's "center wheel" is actually off to the side at about 8:00 in the shot below.  So the cannon pinion on this movement is special.  It's got a gold ring around it that engages the "third wheel" and as the third wheel turns, the cannon pinion turns.

You need to put a tiny bit of oil on the inside of the gold ring so that it can slip around the cannon pinion when you set the time.  But first, this is going through the cleaner.

All the parts are cleaned and dried.

The balance is swinging away with good motion so it's off to the timer.

Everything looks good.  It was running a web fast so you can see the effect of my tweaking the regulator to slow it down and then to speed it back up until I got the two lines to level out horizontally.

Now you can see how sweet this watch looks with it's matching bracelet.  The hands look black since they're reflecting the shadow out side my light tent.  The hands are silver though.  This is a great looking watch... I should have bid more and made my friend pay more dearly for it!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

1965 Arthur

Unlike my last post, the 1951 Clyde, I know plenty of people that share a name with my latest project watch, a 1965 Arthur.  In fact, I wonder why it took 40 years to get around to using that name?  They never did get to my name, Daniel, oh well - I'll have to settle for the Boone or Webster, I suppose.

The Arthur was introduced in 1965 and produced through 1969.

The Arthur came in a 10K yellow RGP case with a stainless steel back.  You had your choice of a matching bracelet or a Hamilton strap.  The embossed white dial features an interesting linen pattern that I wouldn't want to have to get refinished.

Inside the case is a Swiss-made Hamilton 686 movement.

I recently landed a Arthur and it arrived with an aftermarket bracelet and one of the lugs bent at an odd angle.  I was able to put the lug back into it's proper position so all four lugs look like they should.

The back is engraved with a presentation to a grand pooh-bah of some sort of a Masonic lodge in up-state New York.  I was able to google the recipient's name and found out he was born in 1910 and passed away in 1991.  Where this watch has been for the past 24 years is anyone's guess, but his wife passed way in 2010, at the ripe old age of 98.

Without the crystal in way, you can see that the dial is in excellent condition.

The 686 movement look bright and shiny but I don't see any watchmaker's marks in the inside of the case back - so I may be the first person to have laid eyes on this movement since 1965.

While all the parts are being cleaned, I'll prep a new PK (low profile) crystal for installation.  30.0mm will do the trick.

Everything is cleaned and dried.  The trickiest part of putting this movement back together is to get all four wheels to line up at the same time so the train bridge falls into place.  Once that's done the rest is a breeze.

The movement is now ticking away with good motion, that's a good sign.

The beat error is a little high, especially for a movement where the beat error is so easily adjusted.  Of greater concern is the little bit of extraneous noise that is affecting the lower of the two lines.  I'll reclean the balance and then adjust the beat error.

Here you can see where I've tweaked the hair spring stud position and gradually reduced to the beat error so that the two lines are right next to each other.


With a new strap and crystal, this Arthur looks like it just left the Lancaster, Pa factory.  It's a good sized watch too - probably 34mm in diameter, which is large for a vintage watch.