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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.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

1953 Sherman

Just when you thought you might be starting to understand Hamilton watches, they throw you a curve ball.

I'm sure you've picked up on Hamilton's use of a "-B" on models where the movement was changed.  A classic example is the Boulton and Boulton-B.  The former has a 14/0 sized 982 movement and the latter has the 982's replacement, the 12/0s sized 753.

Well, apparently it wasn't always so cut and dry.  Let me show you what I mean...

In 1950 Hamilton introduced the Sherwood, it was the second time the name was used.  The first Sherwood was made in 1935.  Anyway, the 1950 Sherwood was produced for three years.


The Sherwood came in a 14K yellow gold filled case with a 19 jewel 982 movement.

In 1952 the Sherwood catalog made mention of the matching ladies version, the Sheryl.


The Sheryll looks like a miniature version of the Sherwood.  Unlike the Sherwood, the Sheryll also came in a white gold filled version.


Well, along comes 1953 and with it the introduction of the 12/0 sized movements.  A lot of "-B" models arrived on the scene as a result.   So what does Hamilton do?  They introduce the Sherman... a 10K gold filled watch that looks exactly like the 14K gold filled Sherwood.  Tucked inside is the 19 jewel 753 movement.  So I guess if the movement AND the case material changed, then the "-B" doesn't apply and it's a different model altogether.

With the arrival of the Sherman, Sheryl becomes a two-timer and is paired with the Sherwood's younger brother.  Now both models are offered in white gold filled too.  The marriage wasn't meant to last though, as the Sherman was made for only a single year.


I happened upon a Sherman in need of love.  I thought it looked familiar but at the time I didn't realize it looks identical to the Sherwood.  As received, the crystal was all beat up so it was clear, pardon the pun, that a new crystal was needed.


Without the bezel and crystal in place, it doesn't look much better.  I'll try to clean up the dial but this one looks a little too far gone.


The 753 was a precursor to the 770 that would be introduced in 1955 and replace all of the 12/0 grades.  The 753 shares a lot of parts with the 770 but one of the main differences is that balance does have shock jewels.


While I'm at the Sherman, I'm going to also restore it's mate, the Sheryll.  I happened upon this shortly after getting the Sherman.  The seller's photos where terrible and it turned out the watch is a white version, and not yellow as I had perceived from the seller's photos.  Oh well, vive la difference!


Like the Sherman, this Sheryl's crystal was beat up too.  Without it in place you can see the dial is in fair shape, a little cleaning will make it brighter.  It's tiny by comparison and smaller than a Dime.


The grade inside a Sheryll is the 17 jewel 21/0 sized 750.  Other than the fact that it's tiny, it's basically the same thing as the men's models.


You know what they say about a man with big hands and big feet?  He needs big gloves and big shoes.  Tiny movements need a tiny movement holder.


While all the parts take their turns in the ultrasonic, I'll prep two new glass crystals to go into their respective cases.


I got my dial refinished... that was "fast"!  I had this project in mind since last November and finally got around to it.


The Sherman is the first to be ready for reassembly.


It's running vigorously, that's a good sign.  Now it's off to the timer.


There are some stray dots below the bottom line.  Something inside is making some noise.  The time keeping is good but the noise is bothersome so I'll try to get rid of it.


I wish it was as easy as just taking another photo - but after much trial and error, I had to remove the balance, replace the regulator, and adjust the beat error in order to get it to run cleanly.  There's nothing wrong with this watch's timekeeping now.


With one down, it's off to the Sheryll.  If you're a hobbyist like me, when you think you know what you're doing you should try to tackle one of these ladies movements.  You will be reminded of Michelangelo's quote from when he was in his 80's... "Ancora Imparo" I am still learning.  The tininess of the parts presents an all new challenge.


To give you an idea of the size of the these parts, check out the gear train below compared to my index finger tip.  Getting the pivots of all four wheels to line up in their respective jewels of the train bridge can drive you to tears.


Success - the watch is running nicely and it's placed on top of the timer.  This movement is so small that you have to be extremely careful not to drop it, or accidentally break the balance wheel.


A little tweaking to the regulator brings the timing in line.  The extra dots are me poking the regulator.  The beat error is a little high but there is no way I'm going to fuss with the hairspring on this balance.


Here are the two watches, reassembled and tucked safely within their cases.  You can see by the time difference of the dials that it took me about 25 minutes to assemble the Sheryll since I put the hands on at 12:00.


I'm not a big fan of the 10mm expansion bracelet on the Sheryll so I'll look for a new strap for it.  In the meantime, I think these two watches turned out very nicely.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

1941 Wesley

There are number of rectangular tank-style models in 1940's lineup.  Usually the 1940's watches are a little small by today's standards.  However, a few are actually a decent size... still small but not "too small".

A good example of a nice-sized tank-style watch is the 1941 Wesley.  It must have been a popular watch, as it was made through 1952.

There are probably a dozen or more rectangular watches in the 1941 line up.


Few 1941 models were also available in 1949.


As you can see in the catalog snips, the Wesley came in a 14K solid yellow gold case.

Under the dial is a 19 jewel 982 Medallion movement.  The 982M was introduced in 1940 and replaced the high grade 982 movement in solid gold models.  The 982 and 982M are virtually identical other than the additional damascening and gold (orangish) highlights on the movement back.  The 982 was used after 1940 in 14K gold filled models.

One of my friends asked me to take a look at his new Wesley.  He had picked it up in a local shop and it briefly ran for him but then cut out.

As received, it was a very attractive looking watch... not the usual likes of my typical project watches.




The dial appears to be original and darned near new.  A lot of people use the term "mint" with watches, which is funny since watches aren't made in a mint.  But this sterling silver dial with solid gold numerals and markers sure looks "factory fresh".


The earlier 982M actually have a gold medallion inset into the train bridge.  The last few years of 982M's lost the medallion and just got a inset enamel circle.  When I first opened the watch, the regulator was set to "super slow", meaning it was pushed to the right, almost over the center wheel.  I pushed it back to the center, just to take the strain off the poor hairspring.


With the dial out of the way, one thing is readily apparent.  There is a ton of excess oil inside.  Look at all the oil that has pooled on the top of the main plate.  I suspect it's from the mainspring barrel.


With the ratchet wheel and the smaller winding wheel out of the way, you can see there's a lot of excess oil on the barrel bridge too.  If any of this oil got onto the hairspring it would make the watch run very fast - thus the probable reason for someone pushing the regulator to super-slow.


Opening up the mainspring barrel, I was a little surprised to see an older blue mainspring.  You'd think if someone serviced this watch and put so much oil inside, they might have replaced the mainspring... but not in this case.


These old blue steel springs tend to "set" after a while and lose a lot of their energy.  The watch will run fine, but it won't run as long.  With a fresh mainspring, a well maintained 982M should run 40 hours or so on a full wind.


I like to use genuine Hamilton Dynavar white alloy mainsprings whenever possible.


Here you can see the difference between an old "set" spring and new mainspring.  A new mainspring will actually coil in the opposite direction.


The best way to install a new mainspring is with a mainspring winder.  There are many different styles of winders but I like to use a K&D variable diameter model.  It allows me to use the same winder for different sized barrels.


Everything is cleaned and dried before getting reassembled with fresh oil - and a LOT less of it than was in there when I started.


The now cleaned movement is running nicely.  It's off to the timer from here to see how well it's running.


Watch timers listen to the ticking and compare what it hears to what it expects to hear.  In this case, the timer is picking up extra noise inside the watch.  I suspect there is a tiny fleck of dust on the hairspring - just enough to make a sound but not enough to really bother the balance motion.


I cleaned the hairspring again and carefully inspected it.  Now the watch is running exactly as it should.  Everything looks great.  I'll leave it running a little fast for now.


My friend asked me to put a new crown on the watch.  I'll need to replace the stem too - as you can see the current one is rusted.  However, the crown and the stem are tailored to each other so that you have the perfect combined length and it will fit correctly against the watch case


I didn't have to do too much to the outside of the watch, to be honest.  I gave it a gentle polish and called it a day.  This Wesley dates to 1948 based on the movement serial number.  It now runs as great as it looks.


Just for comparison's sake, check out the relative large size of a Wesley compared to it's 1941 sibling, the Gilbert.  The Wesley is considerably larger.


Sunday, January 18, 2015

WWII USMC Aviators Watch

Hamilton made a variety of military watches during World War II.  In fact, during the years 1942 through 1945 virtually all production was dedicated to the war effort.

The most commonly found military watch is the US Army version with the white dial and a case back engraved with "ORD DEPT".  At any given time there are several of them for sale online.

Hamilton also made watches for the US Navy and Marine Corps.  These watches come in different cases and are engraved on the back with HAMILTON WATCH COMPANY along with the part number that is unique to each watch version.  You can read more about it on this thread.

Among the scarcest are the FSSC 88-W-800 watches, and part number 39102, specifically.  Only 2,926 of these watches were produced for the US Marine Corps, and they were specifically made for aviators.


A number of things make the 39102 version unique.  First of all, it features Hamilton's first 18 jewel sweep second movement... the 2987.  Like the 987S, the 2987 is a hacking watch so the watch will stop when you pull out the crown to set the time.

The watch also features a Wadsworth case - while other military watches were either Star cases or Keystone cases.

I recently scored a 39102 USMC watch and it proved to be a true labor of love.  It arrived as non running but, as you'll see below, it had several issues, any one of which would cause it to stop running.

First off though, you'll note this watch has a black dial.  The US Navy version received a black dial and the USMC version was white.  Naval aviators had a 2987-based watch too though. However, the Navy version came in a Star case with part number 39103 on the back.  You can read more about the US Navy version here.  So this dial is a replacement.


The Wadsworth case should be stamped with a W in between the top lugs, as shown below.


Here's a shot of the case back engraving.  Although the bezel is chrome plated brass, the back is stainless steel.  The back unscrews using a large combination wrench, nothing much to it.


Under the case back you should see a dust cover that snaps onto the movement ring that surrounds the movement inside.


And here's the 2987 movement.  It looks a lot like the 987S, which was also used for military watches.  However, the 2987 adds an extra jewel to support the second hand pinion in the center.  The pinion is also supported by a spring, partly visible under the sweep second wheel.


Winding the watch, I realized the mainspring was broken... as I could wind and wind and wind it without ever hitting resistance and stopping.  So that's one reason why the watch isn't running.  I also noticed the hairspring is a skewed off to the side (toward the balance cock).  That's another reason why the watch was dead on arrival.

The dial has a little bit of rust in the center.  The dial is old and looks like it could be original.  However the mismatched hour and minute hands are not correct for the watch.  The second hand is correct though.  On the black dialed models, the hour and minute hands should technically be stainless steel.  That's an important detail to look for but not a deal breaker.


The crystal that is installed is rather odd.  It has a wide flange so it appears a lot smaller than the bezel opening.  I'll change that out with a proper crystal.


Pulling the gold-colored sweep wheel is a job for a specialized tool made just for this purpose.  It looks a lot like a Presto-style hand puller but one side is split to go over a wheel spoke while the other grasps the hub.


Squeezing the tool will lift the wheel straight up and off so you don't bend the extended third wheel pivot.  Once I got the sweep wheel off, I removed the sweep pinion bridge.  However, I couldn't get the sweep pinion itself out.  It was rusted to the inside of the center wheel.  Eventually I worked it loose and I then ran tiny broach through the inside of the center wheel to open it back up again.  A seized seconds pinion would definitely stop the watch from running.


Once I got the wheels out, I noticed the hack spring had been bent out of the way.  Although it still moved when the stem was pulled out, it was not in the right position to stop the watch.  So I had to rebend it back to the proper shape.

While everything is in the ultrasonic, I'll replace the crystal with a PHD high dome crystal.


That looks much better than the wide-flanged crystal.


I'll prep a new white alloy mainspring for the movement too.


Close inspection of each jewel revealed that the center wheel jewel in the barrel bridge is cracked.  It's the larger of the two jewels below.  The jewel is larger than a 987A's center wheel jewel but it's the same size as a 987S and I happen have a parts watch to use as a donor.


The jewels are held in place with friction and are removed and reinstalled using a staking set and a flat punch.  It's best to replace cracked jewels if you can, as they are a source of friction and wear.


All of the parts are now cleaned, including two potential balance wheels.


While reassembling the watch, I found out the pallet fork arbor was missing a pivot - so that's yet another reason why the watch would not run.  I think I'm up to four different reasons for why this watch movement wouldn't run.

In the end, without the seconds sweep wheel or pinion installed, this movement looks like a regular old 987A.  It's back to running condition now thanks to a new pallet fork, a new mainspring, a new center wheel jewel and a new balance assembly.


Well, it's running alright and dead on from a beat rate standpoint.  The beat error is within acceptable tolerance.  The amplitude is well over 200 degrees so there's a lot of energy in the watch.  The reason the two lines are so far apart is the lower line is on the top of the screen and the upper line is just above the bottom of the screen.  So they're actually much closer than they appear.


I happened to have a spare white dial and hand set up so the finishing touches to this restoration are the dial, hands and a new canvas strap.  It's back to looking just as it would have in 1943.


And here's a final shot of the case back.  This is one mighty rare watch.  I was lucky to find it.  With less than 3,000 made and the rest going into harm's way, I wonder how many are still in existence?  I'm glad I was able to get this one back into wrist-worthy condition.