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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.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

1953 Lindsay

The early 1950's was a period of rapid transformation for Hamilton.  Increased competition from post-WWII Europe caused Hamilton to seek out innovative ways to differentiate as well as offer watches at a lower price point.

On the differentiation side, watch cases often came in odd shapes with contoured surfaces.  In addition, matching expansion bracelets also became commonplace.   It seemed the bolder the shape the better.

In 1953 the Lindsay was introduced.  It seems to be a mixture of Hamilton's traditional design aesthetic with a hint of their new flair.  The design is very similar to other models from the same period like the Medford, perhaps too much so as it was only produced for a single year.  However, another Lindsay model would be introduced in 1962.


The Lindsay came in a 10K yellow gold filled case with a sterling silver dial outfitted with solid 18K gold numerals.

Since it came in a 10K gold filled case, you'd be correct to assume that it would have a 17 jewel movement inside.  In 1953 the choice for the movement would have been a 12/0 grade and that would  be the 752.   The 752 is very similar to the 19 jewel 753 in the same way the earlier 14/0 980 was similar to the 982.  The 12/0 series also had a Medallion movement for solid gold models, the 754.

I recently received a very nice Lindsay in need of little more than a new crystal.


The 10K gold filled case back is unremarkable and pops off using the lip between the lugs for leverage.  Stainless steel case backs were starting to be introduced to lower costs a little and the newly reintroduced Hamilton Illinois-branded models were the guinea pig.


The inside of this case back is stamped with the model name, making identification easy.


The 752 looks a lot like the 770 movement that would be introduced in 1955.  The 770 just incorporates 5 additional cap jewels.  Pretty much all of the other parts are interchangeable.


Everything is cleaned and dried before being reassembled with fresh lubricants.


A new glass crystal will be a great improvement to this watch's appearance.


The movement is reassembled and the mainspring wound back up.  Now when I place the balance assembly in position it should start running.


The movement goes over to the timer to see what's going on inside.  Based on the results shown on the timer's screen, everything looks good.  I usually set watches a little fast as they often tend to slow a little after a few hours.


As you can see below, a new crystal makes a remarkable difference on an old watch.  A gentle polish makes the case really sparkle.


Monday, July 27, 2015

1954 Kevin

Hamilton made a handful of watches in platinum, but the second most-precious metal cased models came in 18K solid gold in white and yellow.  Only 13 models were made in 18K.

One of them is the 1954 Kevin.  It was produced for 4 years as part of the "Masterpiece" line.


In 1956 the Masterpiece line received a solid gold diamond-shaped marker on the dial under the Hamilton name.  So if you see a Kevin with this marker, you know it is from 1956 or 1957.

If you look closely, the 1954 Kevin came with a 19 jewel movement - that would be the 12/0 sized 754 movement.  Then in 1955 the Kevin would have received the "new" 22 jewel 770 movement.  

So, if you see a Kevin with a 754, it's likely from 1954 and if it has a 22 jewel but no diamond-shaped marker, then it's from 1955.

One of the most remarkable features of the Kevin is it has swing lugs.  The metallic portion in between what appears to be the lugs is actually a hinged portion of the case that the strap attaches too.  You might think that was a part of the strap but it's actually part of the case.

I recently received a project Kevin in serious need of some TLC.   It arrived very dirty, non-running and beat up.


The back is inscribed with a presentation from 1957.  You can see the hinge structure for the case in the photo below.


This dial is an obvious refinish from long ago.  It's got some water damage around the perimeter and the hands have lost a lot of their gild.  Notice the seconds register is incorrect.  It should be a simple cross hair pattern.  The font for Hamilton isn't quite correct either, but it's closer than the seconds register anyway.


It's not often you come across a watch with 18K stamped inside the case back.


The 22 jewel 770 is very dirty.  It will tick slightly but it won't run for long.  The stem won't stay in either, so you can't set the time.


With the dial out of the way, you can see the set lever, indicated by my tweezers, is a rusty mess.  There's a little post on it that engages the stem so I assume that it has rusted away - so the stem won't stay in.  There's also a screw missing from the "set bridge" in the shadow of my tweezers.


Flipping the movement over, I noticed two of the bridge screws are incorrect replacements.  One is located on the balance cock, the other is up by where the train bridge says "22 jewels".  Apparently this watch was last serviced (long ago) by someone who was really good a losing screws.


With the parts removed from the back, I'll flip it over again to remove the cap jewels.  At this point I noticed the shock jewel spring is broken on the balance jewel.  So that will need to be replaced.


The balance jewel is actually a replaceable assembly held in place with a tiny screw.


Now it's been removed and you can see it's empty hole.  Now I'll remove all the rusted setting parts.


Everything is cleaned and dried.  The mainspring doesn't look very good to me - it's not quite set but it's not splaying out like it should.  So I'll replace that now too.


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


Here's what a proper mainspring will look like.  Notice how it actually splays out in the opposite direction.  There's a huge amount of difference between a fresh and a set mainspring in terms of stored energy.


Here's the difference between a rusty set lever and a nice set lever.  Notice the post that engages the stem.


Well, it took a couple of hours to get everything cleaned and reassembled.  Now I just need to reinstall the balance assembly.


Uh oh... it's running way too fast.  See how the timer thinks it should have a beat rate of 19800 beats per hour instead of the 18000 it should have.


A pass through my demagnetizer sets it straight.  Now I just need to tweak the regulator a little to speed it up.  The amplitude is a little low, but anything over 200 is fine.  I haven't wound it fully yet though since I haven't installed the stem.


Before I can put the stem in, I need to replace the rusted winding pinion and clutch wheel.  The larger diameter wheel is the winding pinion.  The square portion of the stem engages the square hole of the clutch.  The clutch engages the winding pinion on one side, or the setting wheel on the other, depending on the position of the stem (winding or setting).


With the stem and setting parts back in place, I need to put the dial spacer back on.  This is always fun since I can never remember which side is up, down, etc.  I remembered this time that the small hole next to the big hole is for the second hand.


There, that's where the spacer goes.  The hour wheel is back on in the center, along with a golden dial washer.  So all that's left is the dial and hands.


How's this for an improvement?  I put a genuine turtle strap on (try finding one of those).  I polished the plastic crystal so now it's clear but I'll replace that with a proper glass one.  The dial looks "okay" but I think a refinish is in order and that's a good opportunity to get the hands re-gilded too.  Pretty nice save though, if I do say so myself.


Saturday, July 25, 2015

1960 Romanesque S

If you want to have a very unique, but small, Hamilton watch collection a good option for you would be to try to find the five Romanesque models from 1960.  You could even try to find the handful additional matching ladies versions.

One of them you'd have to locate would be the Romanesque S.  What's that you say?  How did they get to S if there are only five?  Well, in the words of Tevye from "Fiddler on the Roof", I'll tell you...

I don't know.

But you'll find there is a Romanesque M, N, R, S and T.    The ladies got the B, C, D, E F, G and H.  Apparently the rest didn't make the cut.  Go figure.

Anyway, the Romanesque S was only offered for one year.


You might think you've seen the Romanesque before.  Maybe you did and maybe you didn't.  I'd wager you probably saw a Trent.  The Trent and Romanesque are very similar, especially in black and white.  But in real life they are dramatically different.


The Romanesque S came in a 10K yellow gold filled case with a stainless steel back.  It was paired with a specially matched Flex-Let bracelet.  The sterling silver dial on the Romanesque is a very funky golden color with a linen-like texture that matches the bracelet well.  The applied numerals, markers and hands are black.

Tucked behind the dial is Hamilton's flagship movement, the 22 jewel 770.  This top-of-the-line movement was proudly made in Lancaster PA from 1955 until 1969.

I recently was watching a Romanesque on eBay and had every intention of making a go at it but I wound up being distracted when the auction closed and forgot to bid.  I know, there are services to help you not miss out like that but I'm old school... I enjoy the thrill of the hunt and prefer to pull my own trigger.  Of course that also means I get to enjoy the agony of defeat as well.

However, as fate would have it, one of my Hamilton buddies landed it instead.  My neglectfulness was his profit - as we didn't end up bidding against each other.  So the watch came my way after all.

It arrived in great shape.  I think it's been worn but probably only for special occasions.  Other than being a little dirty, it looks like a "cream puff, only worn by a little old lady to church on Sunday".


Watches that have never been worn sometimes concern me... sort of makes you wonder what's wrong with it.  But this one started ticking when I gave it a wound.  It even has the original sticker on the case back.


It also has an original tag on the bracelet.


With the front bezel removed, you can see the dial is very unique.  I will take extra, super-duper care of this dial as I doubt it could be redone correctly.


The movement is bright and shiny, that's a good sign.  I don't think a watchmaker has opened this case since the watch originally left Lancaster 55 years ago.


The dial-side of the main plate is equally unremarkable.  You don't often get to see such a prestine, factory-fresh movement.


Everything is cleaned and dried.  The hardest part of this overhaul was cleaning the nooks and crannies of the case.


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


Hmm... a little fast and a little noisy too.  I'll recline the hairspring and see what happens.


It took a couple of more attempts but I got the balance to run cleanly.  A slight tweak to the regulator slowed the beat rate to an acceptable +6 seconds per day rate.  Nothing wrong with this movement.


With the dial and hands installed and the case reassembled, I just need to reinstall the Flex-Let bracelet using the original 1960 spring bars.  You don't see those too often either.


And here's the finished project on it's pillow shot.  This is really a very sparkly watch.  My camera does not to do it justice.  The bracelet is a little short... it would be most comfortable on a person with a 6-3/4" wrist.  However, it is expandable if you have the proper links.


And what would be better to go with an almost new-old-stock watch?  How about it's original box.  Oddly enough the retail tag on the box is slightly higher than what's shown in the catalog but I don't doubt that this box and watch have been together since the left the jewelry store in 1960.