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 1, 2016

1965 Accumatic A-605

You would never know that the end of the 1960's would bring the end of US-production of Hamilton watches.  The company appeared to be going as strong as ever as more and more new models were introduced every year.  Hamilton didn't close up shop entirely in 1969.  It just formally declared that manufacturing would be centered in Switzerland.  In fact, a number of 1960s models continued to be produced into the 1970s.

Anyway, one of the new models in 1965 was the Accumatic A-605.  It was produced through 1969.

The A-605 came in a 10K rolled gold case, as you might guess since it's 600 series model.   The Accumatic line had a variety of classic 1960's designs with case materials ranging from solid gold to stainless steel and all sorts of unique dial designs in white, gold, silver, and black.

The A-605 came with a radial finished white dial with golden rectangular markers.  Like most models at the time, it was paired with a special bracelet.

Tucked inside the case is an ETA-based Hamilton 689A automatic movement.

My project watch came to me from a follower of the blog.  It was a family piece and even though it looked pretty beat up, it had great sentimental value.  It's definitely worth restoring.

A lot of the Accumatics open through the crystal and the A-605 is no exception.  It's a one-piece case design so the only way water can get is in through the stem tube or around the crystal.

With the beat up crystal out of the way, you can see that the dial is in good shape overall but there's a little discoloration around the 5 marker where moisture got past the crystal.  There's nothing I can do about that now though - other than treat it very carefully so I don't make it worse.

The movement looks pretty good too but there is a little evidence of rust.  It's definitely very dirty and time for a thorough cleaning.

Everything is taken apart and thoroughly cleaned and dried.  I only saw one watchmaker's mark inside the case back... so I know I'm not the first person to take this watch apart..

The balance is now swinging away, as evidenced by the blur of balance as captured by the camera.

Let's see... it's running a little fast, the beat error is a little high and the amplitude of 181 degrees is a little low.  The amplitude could be caused by the fact that I didn't wind the watch very much.   First I'll tackle the beat error, then the beat rate and finally, I'll wind the watch more fully and see what the amplitude looks like.

A tweak to the position of the hairspring stud lowers the beat error to 0.6ms.  Anything less than 1.0 is great, in my opinion but I can probably tighten it up a little more.

There... 0.1ms beat error, 7 seconds fast per day, and an amplitude of 233 degrees.  There's nothing to complain about with this performance.  I like to leave watches running a little fast.  They slow a little bit over time.

This crystal has seen better days.  The preponderance of scratches, the fact that moisture has gotten past it, and the yellowish colors are all good reasons to replace it.

A 29.5mm high dome crystal will do the trick nicely.

And here's the finished project, paired with a nice genuine lizard strap.  You can still see the spotting on the dial by the 5 but hey, lets face it, most people from 1965 have a few spots too by now.

One thing that's interesting about the case is the shape of the lugs.  You can't tell from the front but they have an interesting "claw-foot" like shape to them from the sides.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

1950 Keith

Hamilton's 14/0 sized movements were purposely designed in the mid 1930's for long and thin models.  Some models like the Carlisle and the Dickens are so long they are curved to fit your wrist.  Other models were more rectangular and there are a lot of very similar models in case materials ranging from 10K gold filled all the way through platinum.

There are several solid 14K gold models that easily confused, including the Wesley, Barton, Gilbert and the Keith.  The Keith was introduced in 1950 and produced for only three years.

Although the cases of these models are very similar, they are differentiated by their dial patterns.  Some models have all-numeral dials and others have numerals and different types of markers.  Some models have two tone dials and others are basic silver butler finish.

The Keith has a silver butler finished dial with solid 18K gold numerals and square-shaped markers.

Being a solid gold model, the Keith has a 19 jewel 982M movement.  The M is for medallion and the 982M was used in the solid gold models starting in 1940.  The 19 jewel 982 movement was used in 14K gold filled models and the 17 jewel 980 was in the 10K gold filled models.  Prior to 1940 you'd find the 982 in solid gold models and the 980 in gold filled models.

There isn't much of a difference between the 982 and 982M other than the damascening and printing on the back of the movement.

I recently landed a nice Keith project watch.   I knew it would need a new crystal but the seller's photos weren't very clear so I wasn't exactly sure what to expect overall.

The 14K case back is unengraved and will polish up nicely, I bet.

Without the crystal in the way, the dial is in great shape and appears to be original.

This 982M dates to 1950, just as it should, and it's very dirty.  It will definitely benefit from a trip to the spa.

There are no watchmaker's service marks inside the case back.  Sort of makes me wonder if I'm the first person to touch this movement since it left the factory in Lancaster PA.  I wonder what the staining inside the case is from?

The mainspring inside the movement is definitely set.  A new mainspring will give this watch 40+ hours of run time.

A new glass crystal will make a huge improvement in the watch's appearance.

Everything is cleaned and dried.   The staining inside the case back is gone now.

Check out the difference in shape of a fresh Dynavar mainspring.  This will be make a huge difference in the energy of the watch.

The watch is now running nicely so it's off to the timer to see how it's performing.

The performance looks great. its running a smidgen fast but that's easily corrected by a minor tweak of the regulator.

A genuine croc strap is an excellent choice for a solid gold watch and I really like the dark brown color.  The freshly polished case looks much different now, don't you think?

Sunday, April 17, 2016

1959 Accumatic VI

Sometimes you have to wonder what the marketing folks at Hamilton were thinking in the late 1950's.  For example, the Accumatic line started out with roman numerals denoting the various models and by the early 1960's they adopted the numerical nomenclature of the K-series automatics; where the model had 3 digits and the first digit was the case material and the second digit was a 5 if it had a stainless steel back.  It sort of makes you think Hamilton wasn't exactly sure how well the Accumatic line would do initially and then they realized it would do way better than expected.

Who knows?

Anyway, one of the earlier Accumatics to get roman numerals was the 1959 Accumatic VI... I suppose that means it was the 6th Accumatic model, although the VII, VIII and IV were introduced the same year.  The Accumatic VI was produced for two years and then replaced with the VI-B.

When you look at the catalog images there is no obvious differences between the VI and the VI-B.  They even came with the same bracelet.  Typically a B model will use a different movement and because of the that, it will have a slightly different case.  For a good example of this, check out my recent post on the Accumatic VIII from the same year.

If the VI and VI-B follow the same suit as the VIII and VIII-B, I would expect the VI-B to have a screw-on case back.

Both models have a 10K yellow RGP bezel with a stainless steel back.  Hamilton never stressed the grade of automatic movements used in models, other than to occasionally denote the jewel count.  So there's no saying definitively what would be inside a VI or a VI-B other than by finding examples in the wild.

I was recently sent two examples in need of some love.  

The first one is a dead ringer for the 1959 Accumatic VI. It's a little dirty but overall looks to be in good shape.

The case back snaps on, like the Accumatic VIII from earlier this month.

Tucked behind the dial is a 17 jewel 672 movement based on the ETA 1256.  I didn't realize until I downloaded my photos that I neglected to take a photo of the movement.  Oops.

I also have a black dialed Accumatic VI.  The hands don't match the catalog images for 1959 through 1961 but they do jive with 1962.  Does that mean this is a VI-B?

The black dialed watch has the exact same case back as the white dialed version.  Again, like a idiot I  didn't snap a photo of it - but it's the same snap-on design.  However, inside the case is a 17 jewel 689 movement.  The 689 was used in 1961, so there's no reason to think that this isn't a proper Accumatic VI-B - but I'm not 100% sure.

The first movement is disassembled, cleaned and thoroughly dried.

The 672 is a fairly straightforward movement and like most ETA automatics, without it's rotor assembly it looks like your typical manual winding grade.  It's now ticking away with good motion.

The timer tells me that something inside is making a little extraneous noise.  Perhaps there's a piece of lint or dust on the hairspring.

There - that's better.  After a slight tweak to the regulator there should be no complaints with this performance.

Now I can put the oscillating weight back on ... I guess I have a photo to prove there's a 672 in there after all.

With the white-dialed version "in the bag", as they say, I can turn my attention to the black-dialed version.  It's now thoroughly cleaned and dried.

It too look likes a garden variety manual winder without it's rotor assembly.  Like it's older brother, it's running with good motion so it's off to the timer.

It's running a little slow at 46 seconds per day, the beat rate of 2.2 is higher than it needs to be and the amplitude is just under 200.  I like the see the amplitude over 200 but I didn't wind this watch fully yet.

Without any additional winding, repositioning the hairspring stud reduced the beat error and a tweak to the regulator brought the beat rate up.  This watch is now running just as well as the other one.

The white-dialed Accumatic VI gets to enjoy some time on an original bracelet.  Looks pretty sharp, if I do say so myself.

A nice black genuine lizard strap complements the black-dialed version nicely.  Black dialed watches are always tricky to photograph, especially when there are a lot of reflections involved.

Here's another shot from a different angle.  You can see why black-dialed models are always popular - they're very striking while on the wrist.