This year marks the 75th anniversary of the National Association of Watch & Clock Collectors, or the NAWCC. This organization is a tremendous resource for horologists and collectors from all over the world. They are marking this noteworthy anniversary with a "For All Time" celebration.
The NAWCC is worth supporting and I started a "gofundme" campaign to raise $5,000 on behalf of "the friends of Hamilton Chronicles" over the month of June. The month is half over and I'm almost halfway to my goal. Can you help me get there?
Donations are 100% tax deductible, you'll get a receipt from PayPal for your records. I get nothing from the campaign, other than the satisfaction of knowing I've developed friendships with fellow Hamilton collectors all over the world.
However, to sweeten the deal, I'm going to raffle off the watch in this post as part of the campaign. Every $25 donation is a chance to win. Donate multiples of $25 for multiple chances to win. It all goes to a good cause and you've got a much better chance of winning this watch than you do of winning the lottery or getting struck by lightening - so that's something to consider too.
The watch in question is over a 100 years old and it dates to a time when Hamilton was known as the "the watch of railroad accuracy". Wrist watches were "for women" - and no self-respecting man of distinction would be without a fine pocket watch. There were none finer than a Hamilton.
There were a surprising number of different grades of pocket watches in 1913. Men's models started at 12 Size and went through 18 Size. Grades offered a minimum of 17 jewels and went through 19, 21 and 23 jewel variants.
The 972 was an excellent mid-level pocket watch. It was "railroad approved" on some smaller regional lines as long as it met the dial and hand requirements. You could also get it in a configuration for a hunting case, and that would make it a 973. Back in 1913 you would select a movement and then a separate case. The jeweler would then complete the assembly for you.
My project watch is in very nice overall condition. The dial has a couple of hairlines and tiny fleabite by the 50 second mark but otherwise it looks terrific.
The case shows no wear through at all and the bow is stiff. So I don't think this watch got a lot of regular use.
The movement looks great and the jewel settings are fairly bright. That means this watch was probably serviced at some point in the last 10 years, I bet.
This watch predates the jewelry standard of "filled gold". I don't think it's solid gold but it's definitely very heavy gold filled at a minimum.
The movement is missing two of the three dial feet. That was unexpected. A donor movement will provide the needed spares.
This watch is negative set, so the sleeve in the case holds the watch in the winding position. Once the movement is outside of the case, the springs under the dial move the watch into the setting position.
The screw holding on the balance cock is an obvious replacement. It doesn't match the head design of the other bridge screws.
Up until the mid 1930's, Hamilton marked all of the main bridges with the serial number of the movement. That makes it easy to spot if a part gets swapped.
The mainspring inside the barrel is a blue steel variety. It could be okay but I'm willing to bet it has set and needs to be replaced.
Sure enough, the mainspring is still a tight coil, relatively speaking.
A new white alloy mainspring will make a big difference in how long the watch runs on a full wind. They come pre-coiled and you get one chance to get them into the barrel - otherwise you have to rewind them. Pocket watch mainsprings can really pack a wallop and you need to be careful when unraveling them.
Everything is cleaned and dried. A pocket watch takes up a lot of real estate when it's all laid out.
Here's an oblong shot of the difference between the old mainspring (left) and the new spring on the right. There's also an old 6/0 size mainspring in the gutter on the extreme right, for comparison.
It took a couple of tries but I finally got the mainspring into the barrel with the t-end lined up correctly.
The train wheels are all in place and I'm ready to put the barrel bridge back in place.
With the pallet fork in place, the movement is now ready to be wound up. Then I can install the balance.
The best way to wind the watch is to install it in the case and use the crown. That way you can use the crown to overcome the springs in the watch and put it in the winding position.
The watch is now running with good motion... it's off to the timer to see how it's performing.
That's not too bad. If this was my personal watch I would stop right here. A beat error of 1.5ms is well within my specs of under 3.0ms. However, the closer to zero the better and since this is a special watch to celebrate Hamilton and the NAWCC, I feel obliged to see if I can improve it.
Alright... it doesn't get much better than that.
The movement goes back into the case.
The finished watch looks as great as it runs. What an awesome pocket watch this will be for some lucky donor!
Again, donations are 100% tax deductible, you'll get a receipt from PayPal for your records. I get nothing from the proceeds of the campaign.