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Monday, July 30, 2012

1948 Brandon - "CLD" as in "sealed"

In 1948 Hamilton introduced the first of several new watch models in the "CLD" line.  CLD phonetically spells out "sealed" and the CLD models featured a series of gaskets that brought environmental protection of a watch to a whole new level.

The first CLD model was the Brandon.  It was produced through 1951.

The earliest models had flexible lugs and only 1948 models offered this design.  In the following years, the lugs were shortened and fixed to the case.  So there are a couple of case varieties in the Brandon line to look out for.

All Brandon's used the 17 Jewel, 14/0 sized 980 movement.

In addition, dials came in either a butler-finished silver color with solid gold numerals or a black-finished dial, also with solid gold numerals... the latter is much more scarce.

The 1949 catalog has a nice description of what's behind the CLD brand... basically it's a series of gaskets... around the crystal, around the bezel / case opening and around the crown / case.  The watches were not marketed as "water proof", just sealed against moisture and dirt.

Typically most CLD models are a two piece case with the bezel and crystal mounting to the main case and the stem is a two piece design.  The movement and dial come out from the front, instead of from the rear as with most other period designs.

Of course, after 60 years the gaskets may either no longer exist or surely have deteriorated.  So, like all vintage watches, you should keep them away from wet environments.

Here's a few shots of Brandons I've enjoyed in my collection.  First, here's a black dialed Brandon with fixed lugs.

and here's a 1948 white-dialed version with the flexible lugs...

Here's a pair of fixed lug siblings...

And just for fun, here's a common mistake that every collector makes... and that's figuring out how to put the strap on.  "Does it go over the bar or under the bar?"  The funny thing is I should have known better since there are other flexible lug models, but the lugs on this watch were frozen at first so it seemed like this was the only way to put them on - but eventually they loosened up.

There are quite a few CLD models in the Hamilton lineup and trying to collect them all would present a challenging opportunity.  It would be a nice Hamilton collection though in the end, as various models came in both solid gold and filled gold as well as manual and automatic movements.


  1. Hello Dan,
    I have a Hamilton, sold as a Brandon. The difference from your photos is that on the dial CLD is written below the Hamilton. Did they produce different worded dials ?

  2. Most of the time you will see "CLD" under the Hamilton on CLD models. Sometimes the CLD is not there and I don't know if its just certain years on certain models. I've seen missing CLD's on other models too. So I would say your dial is correct to have CLD on it. It might just be a later model like a 1950 or 1951. For example, the 1951 Brandon shows the CLD on the dial in the catalog ad.

  3. That makes sense, I think. I've just bought an earlier flexible lugs Brandon, which doesn't have CLD on the dial.
    The seller gave this a 1946 date (I've seen another with this date too) were they made pre 1948 ?

  4. The Brandon was introduced in 1948 and it had flexible lugs only in it's first year. So if yours has flexible lugs it's a 1948 for sure. As for the movement, there are different tables that try to match serial numbers to production years - but they're not always accurate. If yours dated to 1937 that would be one thing, but being within a couple of years of 1948 I would say as long as it is a 980 movement then I wouldn't be too concerned.

  5. Hello,

    I have the back, 'guts,' and face of a 1948 white-dialed version of the Hamilton. It was given to my grandfather in 1948 as a retirement gift and I'd like to refurbish it. I don't have the case, nor the band. Someone told me I might just have a jeweler cut the inscription off the back and solder it to a new watch. Any thoughts on restoring this watch. I do not have an unlimited budget, but am prepared to make an investment to get it back to working order. I'd like to give it to my son some day.

    Thanks. Ed. etlarkin@aol.com

  6. Dan,
    I have my father's 1948 Brandon white face that I just got working again. I found a local clock and watch repair person nearby and he got it working for me. He had to replace the stem. It works great now but the white face is a little dirty. Is it a big deal to have this cleaned up? After putting over $200 into it, I am hesitant to spend more.

  7. Jeff - cleaning dials should only be attempted if you're willing to get them refinished. I'm sure International Dial Co would do a fine job refinishing your Brandon dial to look "like new". It would run about $50 or so. You would need to be send them just the dial though - which means taking it off. Email me for more thoughts.

  8. Dan,
    Thanks for the tips. It may be something that I will think about doing in the future. Right now, I will leave it as is. I am just happy to have it working again. My parents (now deceased) were married in 1948 and I believe this may have been a wedding present from my Mom to my Dad. I found it in his old TV Repair tool box a few years ago. After looking at your website, I may have to find another old Hamilton.

  9. I have been looking for a 1948 Brandon or other similar Hamiton. If you or any of your followers ever have one from '48 to sell, I would be very interested.

  10. Hi I was wondering what the size of the Hamilton Brandon is and what size wrist do you have? I was thinking about picking up one myself, and I have fairly small wrists. Thanks!

    1. It's a small watch by today's standards. I have 7" wrists or thereabouts.

  11. IN the process of inspecting my Hamilton Brandon I broke the minute hand. Can you tell me the correct replacement size for the hands (I might as well replace them as a pair).