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, April 14, 2018

1962 M 79-2

The Hunchback of Notre Dame was getting ready to retire.  He'd been the bell ringer for many years and it was time.  So he put an ad in the paper, "wanted: Bell Ringer, Cathedral of Notre Dame, apply in person".

After a few days a man arrived and asked Quasimodo for the job.  Quasimodo looked him up and down and quickly realized the man had no arms.  Quasimodo told the guy, "Look, I'm all for differently-abled people, but you don't have any arms!  How are you going to do the job?"

The man said in reply, "Oh Mr Quasimodo, please let me have the job!  My family is so poor and without any arms I have a very hard time providing for them.  I'm sure I can do a good job for you!"

Well, the Hunchback was moved by the man's spirit so he said, "Okay, it's 1:00 - let's go ring the bell."

They climbed together to the top of the cathedral and then approached the large bell.  The man steadied his feet and leaned way back, then he quickly sprung forward and struck the bell hard with with forehead.

"GONGGGG!" went the bell as it swung away and when it came back it stuck the still-dazed man and knocked him off the ledge and he plummeted to his death.

Quasimodo ran down the steps and burst through the front doors to see a policeman was already standing over the body.

The policeman said, "Do you know this guy?"

Quasimodo said, "No, but his face rings a bell."

Did you ever have the feeling?  You see someone and you're sure you've met them before but you just can't place it?

I'm sure you have, everyone has and it happens from time to time with watches too.  For example, I recently came upon a watch in it's original box and with what looked to be an original bracelet too.  I thought, surely I've covered this model on the blog already.

I was wrong.  Turns out it was one of the mysterious M-series models, although M is for Men, not mystery.  What I had is, in fact, a 1962 M 79-2.

There are over two dozen different M-series models to my knowledge.  My theory on them is they were specially made for a large nation-wide catalog retailer, rather than for jewelry stores.  Other than in 1964, you don't see them in the regular Hamilton catalogs.

The M 79-2 is the second model to be sold at the retail price of $79.  It's not clear how many years it was made but since it's not in the 1964 catalog it can be presumed to have only been a year or two.

The M79-2 came in a 10K RGP case with a Hamilton 17 jewel Swiss-made 688 movement.

As received it looks a little like the A-601 and the 1964 M 100-3 but they are automatics.  The M79-2 is a manual winding model.

I have seen empty red clamshell boxes from time to time but this watch would indicate the red boxes are for M-models.  That would be a very interesting observation, if true.

I'll have to keep my out for other red boxes and see if I can confirm my hypothesis.

My project watch is definitely not new old stock.  In fact, the back is engraved with a presentation and it has a bit of wear.  However, I think the recipient must have really treasured this watch, to keep it with its original bracelet in it's original box.  Interestingly, the presentation is from Jan 1965.  Who knows how long it stayed in inventory though.

If you look closely at the dial, it's very similar to the M 100-3.  However, they are a bit different (beyond just the addition of the word AUTOMATIC).  The silver chapter ring on the M 79-2 is flat while the ring on the M 100-3 is raised.

The 688 movement is rust-free and in very good condition.  It has a bit of extra oil inside though so it could stand to be cleaned.

Sorry for the slightly blurry shot of the inside of the case back.  There are a few past watchmakers' marks inside that indicate the watch was well cared for.  This case looks very similar to the 1961 M79-1.

All of the parts are cleaned and dried.

The reassembled movement is noticeably brighter now that it's been cleaned.  Although my camera has frozen the balance in time, it's actually ticking away on the timer with good motion.

Looking good!

A new crystal will brighten up the finished watch since the existing crystal is a bit yellowed by the passage of time.

This watch turned out fantastic!  The bracelet shows a little wear but even with my merciless light tent the watch looks sharp.  It's ready for some more wrist time, although it will be safely stored in it's original box when not in use.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

1954 Hamilton K-575 Calendar

The first Hamilton model to feature a calendar complication was introduced in 1954, the same year the Hamilton Illinois line introduced a calendar model - the Datomatic A.  The Hamilton version was the Automatic K-575 Calendar.

The following year the catalog image for the K-575 was slightly different.   The 1954 version appears to have bands around the outside perimeter while the 1955 version lacks the bands but has luminous dots outside the 12, 3, 6 and 9.  That leads me to believe there are two dial variations for the K-575.  It also appears that the date wheel on the 1954 model is darker than on the 1955 version... indicating the date wheel is a different color than the dial.

The 1954 catalog shows the strap while the 1955 version shows the bracelet that was paired with the K-575.

Another calendar model was introduced in 1955, the Automatic K-576, and features the same dial as the 1955 version of the K-575.

The other very popular K-series automatic with a calendar complication is the 1960 K-475.  That model is the only model to use the Hamilton 690 movement.  The earlier K-575 and K-576 used the earlier version of the 690, the 662 - and it uses all of the same parts as the 690 other than the rotor.

You very rarely see the K575 or K576 in the wild.  I'm not sure why that is.  However, in the last few months I came upon two identical K575s and I purchased them both since parts can be hard to come by.  I figured I would restore the better of the two.

The case back screws on and off and is a solid chunk of stainless steel.

From the back the back, the 662 is identical to the 661.  Nothing new to see here.

The dial is in fair shape but a bit grungy.

Once the dial is removed, it exposes a cover that has to be removed in order to expose bits that make the calendar complication do it's thing.

Everything is cleaned and ready to be reassembled.

The reassembled movement goes onto the timer to see how it's running.

It's running a little slow but that is easily corrected.

One of the examples has a crystal with a silver reflector ring.  I think it looks very authentic so I will install a new crystal with a silver ring.

My white light tent is merciless on watches and it makes my completed project watch look a little splotchy.  It looks better in person.  Still, I may swap it with the dial from my other example... it's a little more even but also a bit grungy.  This is such an uncommon watch though that keeping it original is a good idea.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

1954 Hamilton Illinois Automatic D

Today is Easter, the most special holiday of the Christian faith, although Christmas seems to get more publicity.  Both holidays are important in their own ways, but without Easter there wouldn't be a reason to celebrate Christmas.

Is there an Easter message that can be connected to vintage Hamiltons?  Maybe, but to a different degree than Christmas since people don't tend to associate Easter with giving presents.  However, Easter is a perfect time to think about those who have died and have been born into eternal life thanks to Christ's conquering of death and resurrection.

Most collectors I know started in the hobby by inheriting a watch from someone special to them.  Their vintage Hamilton is, in some ways, a symbol of the promise and hope of Easter.

You might also associate the "resurrection" of a vintage watch as a metaphor of the meaning of Easter.  Most of the watches that I restore died and were placed in the tomb of a desk or dresser drawer.  Just as the apostles must have felt, vintage watch owners experience tremendous joy when they realize their beloved time piece has been restored. Okay, that's a bit of a stretch.

I recently did a post on the 1953 Illinois Topper B.  The Hamilton Illinois line of watches introduced Swiss-made movements to Hamilton's line.  By 1954 there were Hamilton as well as Illinois models with Swiss movements.  One of the Illinois-branded automatics introduced in 1954 was the Automatic D.  It was produced for only a single year.

The Automatic D came in a yellow gold filled case.  The embossed dial has luminous dots and luminous hands to match.  Tucked inside the case is an Illinois branded movement based on the ETA 1256.

Illinois models aren't too hard to find but the Automatic D is less common.  One reason is by 1954 you had other Hamilton automatics to choose from.  Also, you had less expensive stainless steel Illinois automatics too.

I recently came upon an Automatic D and it reminded me a lot of the early Accumatic line.  The dial appears to have had a golden band around the outer perimeter but it has faded a bit on my example.  The case has interestingly sculpted lugs that remind me of a Victorian sculpture or webbed feet on a duck.

The case back snaps on and off and there's a lip between the lugs to pry against with a case knife.  The tip of the lip has a little bit of wear, otherwise the case looks very good.

Illinois movements did not get unique caliber numbers but a trained eye would immediately recognize this movement is an ETA movement and, specifically, a 1256.  If it was branded with Hamilton info, it would be the Hamilton 672.

There are remnants of an o-ring in the groove between the bezel and the case back.  I'll pull the rest of the o-ring fragments out before cleaning it.  The movement is held in place with a movement ring that is keyed to the bezel.  This ring can sometimes be a pain to get out but it needs to come out in order to remove the movement.

Without a crystal blocking the view, you can see the dial is in good shape but showing it's 65 years of age.

The number 9517 on the back of the dial corresponds to the 9517 on the outside of the case back and it's the model number of the Automatic D.

Everything is completely taken apart and thoroughly cleaned before being reassembled with fresh lubricants.

The reassembled movement is ticking away with good motion.

It's running a little fast but I can adjust that simply enough.  The amplitude is a little low but I haven't wound it up all the way yet.  The beat error of 2.3ms is within my acceptable limits and it's not easy to adjust on this movement so I will leave it as is.

A new high dome crystal in 28.3mm will brighten up the outside of the watch.

I installed a new o-ring in the case groove.  Now the trick will be to close the watch.  That can be hard to do if the ring needs to be compressed.

Fortunately I have a crystal press and it also serves as a great tool for applying the even pressure needed to close stubborn snap-on backs.

Paired with a fresh lizard strap, this Illinois Automatic D has been restored to new life.  It certainly didn't take a miracle but it did require time and talent - two blessings bestowed by God.  So in that way it's also a symbol of Easter.

Happy Easter to you and your family.  May you find the renewal of hope, health, love and the spirit of God today and always.