Welcome


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 21, 2018

1968 Accumatic A-607

I've not been one to pursue vintage bracelets.  That's mainly because I think bracelets can often take their toll on the lugs of a watch.  Plus, I think a nice strap is more comfortable than a bracelet.

However, I know several folks who have been bitten by that bug.  There's good reason for that.  Hamilton did a lot to match bracelets to the design of specific watch models.  So much so that sometimes I wonder which came first, the bracelet or the watch.

That said, I must confess that it's hard to resist a project watch for sale when it has it's original bracelet.  I recently landed one, a 1968 Accumatic A-607.  It was only produced in the 1968/69 timeframe.


The A-607 came in a 10K rolled gold plated case.  If you wanted it on a strap you'd have to buy your own, as it only came on a Kreisler bracelet.  Tucked inside the A-607 you will find a 17 jewel 689A automatic movement.

I paid a little extra for this watch, mainly because it looked to be in excellent condition.  The seller told me after I purchased it that it was recently serviced and ready to wear.  I'm always a little skeptical when a seller claims a watch is serviced... I have found that the term can be used liberally.  Sometimes people just add a little extra oil and call it "serviced'.  I put this watch on my timer and it ran poorly with very low amplitude.  That's okay though, it was headed to the spa anyway.


This watch shows a few minor bumps and bruises but it really looks about as close to unworn as you can get.


One detail the seller conveniently left out of his listing was a photo of the case back.  Check this out! It looks like someone took a steel brush to the case and went right through the thin layer of gold plating in the process.  That's a shame, there's not much I can do to fix that.  Oh well, at least it's not visible from the front.


The 689A movement looks to be very clean, that's for sure.


Everything is taken apart and cleaned.  Time to reassemble it.


The partially reassembled movement is now running with good motion.  It's off to the timer to see how well it's ticking.


The photo is a little blurry but you can still see the watch is running fairly well.  I haven't wound it up fully yet though, which is why the amplitude is a little low.


This watch took about 45 minutes to put the crystal back on, believe it or not.  Every time I installed the crystal the watch would stop!  Maybe that's why the watch was running so poorly when I first tried it?  Talk about frustrating!  This watch has a yellow reflector ring that surrounds the dial and I found through trial and error that the crystal pushed the reflector ring onto the dial and that would somehow stop the watch.  Without the reflector ring, the watch would run just fine.  I finally switched from a 30.6mm crystal to a 30.4mm crystal and that corrected the problem.

Although the watch doesn't look that much better than what I started with, after a little extra spit and polish it really does look like it's fresh from the factory.  They don't get much nicer than this.  Too bad the back of the case has lost some gold.


Saturday, January 20, 2018

1960 Thinline 4000

The first Thinline model was actually the Thinline II from 1958.  That's a bit odd, don't you think?  What happened to the Thinline?  Apparently Hamilton wasn't sure that the work was ready for Thinlines, as the Thinline II only stuck around for a single year.

Then in 1960 several Thinline models were introduced.  One of them was the Thinline 4000 and it looked a lot like the Thinline II.  However the Thinline 4000's case was 10K yellow gold filled and not solid 14K gold like the Thinline II (the Thinline II also came in white as well as yellow gold).

The Thinline 4000 also came with two dial options.   One of them looks a lot like the Thinline II's dial.   However, the Thinline 4000 is noteworthy because it has a very unique, arrow-shaped hour hand.   I don't think I've ever seen the all-numeral dialed version so I don't know if it also has the same hands.


The Thinline 4000 didn't stick around for long.  By 1961 the catalog said it was "sold out".  That sort of begs the question, if it was that popular why not make more or continue the model?


The Thinline 4000 isn't ultra-rare but it tends to be popular with collectors since the hour hand is so unusual.

I recently landed a Thinline 4000 project watch and it has a few issues.  First, the second hand was installed too close to the dial at some point and it rubbed a circular mark on the dial.  Someone was a little rough getting the hands off in the past and dented the dial.  Also, there's some crackling by the 5 hour mark, probably related to the dial foot screw being under it.  Finally, the lugs have groves worn into them from a past bracelet.  Still, it's not a complete disaster and it is almost 60 years old after all.


It's clear from looking at the back that this is a one-piece case that opens through the crystal.


With the crystal out of the way you can see the dial a little better.  It looks a little wavier in the photo below than it does in real life.


This photo is a little blurry but the movement is a 17 jewel 676 grade.


This watch has been through the hands of many previous watchmakers.  There are about a dozen different marks inside the case back.


The main plate is stamped 4201 and was made by Aurore, one of the many watch companies owned by ESA (including ETA and others).  I wouldn't be surprised if the Hamilton relationship with Buren was the reason this model was short-lived.  Most Thinline models used a Buren movement starting in 1962.


Everything gets taken apart and cleaned.  The hardest part about taking disassembling the movement is the balance jewels are incredibly small - about half the size of the typical shock jewels I encounter.  You can barely see them in the photo below and they are very easy to lose.


This 676 just doesn't want to be photographed but it is running with good motion.  Let's see what the timer says.


Wow, the beat error is way too high and maxed out at 9.9ms.  Unfortunately this watch has a fixed hairspring stud so adjusting the beat error has to be done "the old fashioned way" - by removing the balance from the balance cock and rotating the hairspring collet on the balance staff.


In order to remove the balance I need to loosen the screw holding the hairspring stud and also free the hairspring from the regulator pins.  The regulator pins have a rotatable side that must be moved in order to free the hairspring.  This tiny soft brass part is very easy to damage if you're not super-careful.


Here's another shot of the regulator with the hairspring now freed.  At this point I can lift the balance away from the balance cock.


On my first attempt to adjust the beat error I must have moved the hairspring collet the wrong direction and made it worse.  Now I have to try again and go the other way.


Getting warmer, but I still have a long way to go.


My third attempt is a bit better but maybe the 4th try will be the charm.


Ah, that's much better.  Just a tiny tweak to the regulator index to speed the watch up a smidgen more and I'll call it a day.


A fresh crystal will be a nice addition.  Since this watch is so "thin" I will use a PK-style, low profile crystal in 30.4mm.


You can see below why this model is called a Thinline.


An unpadded alligator strap is a perfect accent for such a thin watch.  With a fresh crystal, the dial doesn't actually look too bad.  Although there's not much I can do about the dent and the crackled finish at the 5 hour position.


Still, for such an uncommon model this watch is a definite keeper until a better example can be found.


Sunday, January 14, 2018

1955 Automatic K-352

Prior to the 1950's it wasn't unusual for a model to have several dial options.  For example, the 1937 Endicott had five different dial options over it's production run.  However, after 1950 the options seemed to become more limited.  Most models had only one choice and occasionally there were options for a black dialed version.

There are a few 1950's models where the dial design changed from year to year.  A good example of that phenomenon is the Rodney.  Another example is the 1955 Automatic K-352.  In 1955 it had a dial design with solid gold numerals and markers and luminous hands and dots.


Then, in 1956 the design was changed to markers at all the hours except 12.  Gone where the luminous dots and instead silhouette hands were added, where luminous paint was applied to the back of the hands and glowed onto the dial 24x7.  It must have been a very interesting effect.


So there are two varieties of the K-352 that you can find.  The model was produced into 1957 so there are probably more of the second dial generation than there are of the 1955 design.

The case of the K-352 consists of a solid 10K yellow gold bezel with a stainless steel back.  What makes the case design unique is it has faceted pattern around the crystal opening with points at all the hour positions.  It's a very subtle attribute and easy to overlook.  Inside you will find the 17 jewel 661 movement used in most 1950's Automatics.

I recently purchased a K-352 project watch and I was on the fence about buying it.  It had a fairly high price tag and was listed as non-running.  I suspected it had an issue and I was paying a steep price for someone else's problem but you don't see this model very often so I took the chance.

From the front it looks okay but there's a little bit of a gap on one side of the dial that's not there on the other side.


This watch was a service award for 25 years of service to National Lead Company.


The inside of the back shows extensive rubbing from the oscillating weight on the movement.


One issue that is easy to spot is the movement is missing a retaining clip and screw.  That explains the cockeyed appearance of the dial on the front.  It might also explain the rubbing rotor.  The rotor doesn't look too much worse for the wear though.


From the side you can see the faceted details on the bezel.  This crystal is the wrong style and way too tall.  A lower profile crystal will look much nicer.


Silhouette hands might look cool in the dark but they take their toll on the dial surface and this dial has been refinished at least once in its life.  They did a nice job though and even included the SWISS at the bottom.


Well, here's the reason for the watch not working.  The mainspring is broken at the first coil.


My go-to crystal choice for most round sweep second models without reflector rings is a GS PHD high dome crystal.  28.3mm should do the trick.


The freshly cleaned and oiled movement is ticking away with good motion.  Now to see that the timer thinks of it.


Not bad at all... amplitude and beat error are well within specs.


Before I put the rotor assembly back on I will make sure there are two movement clips securing the movement to the inside of the case.


My leap of faith turned out okay.  With two clips to secure the movement, the rotor swings freely and no longer rubs the case back.  My light tent makes the dial look more splotchy that it actually is.  This is actually a very nice looking watch now that it has a lower profile crystal and a fresh alligator strap.