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, May 10, 2020

Happy Mother's Day.

If you're a mom, I hope you had a nice day.  If you're not, I hope you've helped make a mom's day nice.

Mother's day always reminds me of the childrens' picture book "Love You Forever" by Robert Munsch.  It's a very touching story with the refrain...

"I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
as long as I'm living
my baby you'll be"

If you haven't read it, or heard it, do a little googling and you should be able to find it.

My watch for this post is a really interesting and rare find.  It's a one year wonder from 1955 called the Lloyd.

The Hamilton Lloyd came in a 10K yellow gold filled case and it features an interesting case design with flourished dimples in the corners of the bezel.  It came paired on it's own bracelet or on a strap.  I have to say, with the bracelet it's not the most appealing watch, at least to my eye.   It's no 1954 Kenmore, which is arguably the ugliest watch in Hamilton's line up but on the a strap, I think the Lloyd is actually a sharp-looking model.  

Other's must have thought the Lloyd was nice looking too, as it was reissued a few years ago by today's Hamilton as a chronograph.

I found my project watch on Instagram from a fellow collector who was selling it.  I was really happy to get is since I think it's only the second time I've seen a Lloyd online and I've never seen one in person.

As received, it was in very nice shape.  The only thing it appears to need is a fresh crystal, this one has a small chip in the corner and on the side.

The back of the case is a little dirty but otherwise unremarkable.

The sterling silver dial features solid 18K numerals.  This one appears to be original and shows a few age spots but nothing too distracting.

The movement inside is a 22 jewel 770.  Being a 1955 model, I wouldn't have been surprised to see 753 movement inside, as the 770 came out in 1955.  This one may look bright and shiny but you can tell by the grime around the winding wheel that it's been a while since this movement was last cleaned.

The inside of the case back clearly identifies the name of the model.  That's not always the situation but it happens a bit in the 1950s.

Everything gets completely disassembled and cleaned before being reassembled with fresh lubricants.

The reassembled movement is ticking away with good motion, let's see what the timer thinks of it.

Hmm... things look pretty good but the beat error of 2.9ms is just below my upper spec of 3.0ms.  The beat error is a measure of how far the balance swings to one side versus the other.  If the balance swings equally from side to side the beat error would be zero.  Adjusting the beat error on this style movement requires removing the balance from the balance cock and adjusting the position of the hairspring on the balance staff.  Adjusting the beat error is a roll of the dice... you might make it better but you might also goof up the hairspring.  Hmm... what to do?  Although 2.9ms is within "my specs", I'd feel a little guilty if I didn't try to improve it.

There... 1.1ms is much better.  It's not perfect but it's not worth tempting fate by trying to lower it further.  Now I can tweak the regulator and speed it up a smidgen.

My finished watch looks a little brighter than what I started with but it wasn't too bad to begin with.  The Lloyd is actually a nice sized watch, by vintage standards and is about 28mm wide, without the crown.  I'm sure it will look even better once I replace the crystal.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

1968 Lord Lancaster EE

Happy Easter! 

It's hard to believe that it's been almost a month since my last post.  These are strange and unsettling times, and I've been very busy. 

A lot of folks have reached out to me to make sure that all was well.  Thanks for your concern and support.  I've been fully dedicated to my "real job" supporting the manufacturing of a key antibiotic that is in short supply.  I've had no time for watches and no access to my workshop, in fact.

As I've reflected over the 40 days of Lent and now with the arrival of Easter, three words have resonated in my mind that, regardless of faith, everyone should keep in mind... "be not afraid". 

The words "be not afraid" are mentioned many times in scripture but I think Isaiah 41:10 is most fitting for today... "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness."

In other words, "stop buying all the toilet paper, we will get through this together, you won't crap yourself to death".

A special day like Easter is deserving of a special watch and I've got a great one to share with you.  It's a very uncommon member of the Lord Lancaster line, the 1968 Lord Lancaster EE.  It was only made for a year or two and this is the only one I've ever seen.

The Lord Lancaster line are models that feature diamonds on the dial or integrated into the case.  They are often similar to other models in the Hamilton line up and the Lord Lancaster EE looks a lot like the Thinline 2042. 

The Lord Lancaster EE came in a solid 14K white gold case with an integrated 14K gold mesh band.  1ct worth of diamonds are imbedded into the bezel giving the watch more than its fair share of sparkle and bling.

You might wonder how much the Lord Lancaster EE sold for.  I'll tell you... I don't know.  No price was shown in the catalog so you know it must have been expensive.

My project watch came courtesy of a fellow collector.  It looks like it's almost unworn.

The only imperfection that I can spot is a slight scratch on the dial by the 2 marker.  Maybe it's just a fleck of dirt and will come off.  We'll see.

You will see diamond-laden Hamilton watches for sale all the time on eBay, often are ridiculous prices.  Normally when I see them my first thought is "buyer beware" because they are probably not authentic models.  In fact, I would say most of the time they are not authentic.  One way to check for authenticity is to look at the case back, or inside the case back.  If it doesn't say Hamilton, it's not a legitimate model.

It's interesting that for what was arguably the most expensive model in Hamilton's 1968 lineup, the movement inside was Swiss-made.  A lot of uninformed Hamilton collectors initially turn up their noses at Swiss-made Hamilton models thinking they are lesser than their American-made counterparts.  To some extent that's true but only because Swiss-made movements allowed Hamilton to produce watches at the lower price points needed to compete in the 1950s and 60s watch market.  They were still quality timepieces.

The movement inside is a Swiss made Hamilton 680 made by ETA.  This tiny movement is used in some ladies models too and it's about the size of my thumbnail.

The inside of the case back presents other visual clues that the model is legitimate.  Notice the second number ends with 68, that's the year the case was introduced and the number starting with a D is unique to this specific example.

Everything is cleaned and ready to be reassembled.

Reassembling tiny watches is more difficult than larger movements.  The principles are the same but the smaller pieces require a very delicate touch to make sure they are in place.  Now the movement is ticking away with a vigorous motion.

The movement is running right on the money.  Notice the beat rate is 21,600.  That's higher than the typical 18,000 beats per hour that most vintage watches from this period have.

This watch now looks as good as it runs and it looks great.  The bracelet is the perfect length for my 7 inch wrist and the metal braid is surprisingly comfortable.  Although, I can't see too many occasions where I would be called to wear a diamond-laden men's watch.  I don't see an easy way to remove or adjust the strap, so the bracelet's length could limit the watch's appeal.

Even the clasp has the stylized Hamilton H logo.

This watch came with it's original Hamilton inner box...

... and outer box as well.

This is definitely a very nice watch, I think the Easter Bunny approves.

I wish you a healthy and happy Easter.  I'll end this post with this brief prayer, I think it's very fitting in today's environment of social distancing and isolation.

Draw us forth, God of all creation. Draw us forward and away from limited certainty into the immense world of your love. Give us the capacity to even for a moment taste the richness of the feast you give us. Give us the peace to live with uncertainty, with questions, with doubts. Help us to experience the resurrection anew with open wonder and an increasing ability to see you in the people of Easter.

Remember, be not afraid.  Amen!

Saturday, March 14, 2020

1953 Preston

It's interesting how some models were produced for many years while others only had one year in the sun before setting for good.  One of the one year wonders you rarely see in the wild is the 1953 Preston.
The Preston came in a solid 14K gold case and what's most interesting about the model is it featured a gabled crystal.  I imagine the Preston was inspired by the 1951 Brent, they are quite similar other than the Preston being solid gold.

Tucked inside the case of the Preston is a 19 jewel 12/0 size 754 movement.  The 754 replaced the 14/0 sized 982M movement used in solid gold models in the 1940s and early 1950s.  It had a short run though and was replaced in 1955 by the 770 movement.

My project watch arrived in typical as-found-in-a-drawer condition, right down to half of the strap and second hand missing.  The crystal isn't a gabled style, so it must have been replaced at some point.  Notice the crown is on an odd angle - this is likely the result of winding the watch without removing it from your wrist.  That puts a lot of strain on only one side of the stem.  When you want to wind a watch you should remove it from your wrist first.  

Looking closely at the dial, it's readily apparent that it's been refinished at some point.  It's the correct pattern but the finish isn't really a silver butler, it's not two-toned, and the markers on the left side and top aren't well aligned with the printing.

The 754 looks a lot like the 22 jewel 770.  The main difference is the lack of shock jewels on the balance and, of course, three less cap jewels.  Most of the parts are shared between the calibers though, which is good to know when you need to replace something.

Notice the post of the missing second hand is still attached to the 4th wheel bit.

While everything is drying after being cleaned, I'll prep a new crystal for installation.

Everything is ready to be reassembled with fresh lubricants.

The movement is noticeably brighter and shinier after a trip to the spa.  It's ticking away with good motion so now it's off to the timer to see how well it's working.

Not too shabby.  The beat error of 1.6ms is well within my specs of less than 3.0.  It could be reduced closer to zero but that would risk goofing up the hairspring.  So I'll leave it as is.

Now to see if I can persuade the crown to sit more evenly.

Check it out... this watch looks a lot different with a correct crystal.   Depending on your perspective the gable is a little distracting.  That might be why the model had such a short run.

Still, the crystal does add a lot of visual interest to what is otherwise a very traditional looking model.

I think the watch looks much more interesting when it's more flattering light.