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.

Friday, August 31, 2012

1955 Cyril

The Cyril was introduced in 1955 and produced for three years.  It's unique among Hamiltons in that it came with a leather and metal bracelet.  It's pretty rare to see one with it's original bracelet but I just so happened to find one the other day.

The Cyril is a relatively small watch.  It's only about 25mm wide by 36mm long and it tucks it's 8/0 sized 17 jewel movement compactly into it's case.  You'll find either a 747 or a 730 movement inside, as the Cyril was produced when Hamilton upgraded the 747 into the 730.

The case is 10K yellow gold filled and it's has a stainless steel back.  The dial is sterling silver with 18K applied gold numerals.

I think it sometimes looks a little odd with a strap but the bracelet really makes a statement.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

1953 Neilsen - Overhaul

In 1953 Hamilton introduced the Neilsen.  At 29mm wide, it's a larger watch by vintage standards and marked the end of the really small vintage watch era and the beginning of the still-kind-of-small-but-getting-bigger era.  The Neilsen was made for only two years.

The Neilsen utilizes the 17 jewel 8/0 sized 747 movement.  The case is 10K gold filled and the only dial option is a butler-finished sterling silver dial with applied gold numerals.

Here's an example of a Neilsen that I recently overhauled.

As received, it's in pretty nice shape.  It has a glass crystal with some small scratches.  I'll have to purchase a replacement, as you can't buff out scratches from glass.

The dial is a little dirty but not too bad.  I forget for they call the green funk that you often find on gold filled cases but it is definitely going to have to go.

The back of the movement shows off the nicely damascened details.  I really like the 747 movement - it's a clean, straightforward, classic design.

The back of the dial is unmarked - the scratches around the perimeter are from the riveting process for the 18K applied numeral.  This has all the indications of an original dial.

A nice fresh white alloy mainspring with a little grease will give this watch about 40 hours of life on a full wind.  I still need to put the cover on the mainspring barrel though - but this view shows you the spring and arbor that will wind it.

The first part back onto the cleaned movement is the pallet fork, sometimes called the anchor.  You can see the little red pallet jewels sparkling.

Next in is the escape wheel which engages the pallet fork and the fourth wheel.  The portion of the fourth wheel that is down in this picture (ie not showing) is the second hand bit that the second hand attaches to.

The thing I like about the 747 is the wheels are very easy to line up so the train bridge can be reinstalled.

Everything but the balance is back on.  So now I give the crown a few turns to make sure the mainspring engages and generates power through the gear train.  If the pallet fork was not installed all the wheels would simply spin until the power was released.

The balance on this particular movement was probably replaced, as this type of wheel I think was made later on.  The original probably suffered a mishap and a complete balance assembly was installed in it's place.  The little red spot is the impulse jewel.  It engages the pallet fork as the balance swings back and forth, each swing moves the pallet fork and allows the wheels to turn one increment... 5 times a second.

With the watch now running and ticking away, it goes onto the watch timer.

9 seconds fast per day, that's pretty good.  A slight tweak to the regulator to lengthen the hairspring ever-so-slightly will slow it down.

And here is the completed reassembly, ready for a strap and a new glass crystal.


I happened upon a Neilsen that came with it's original inner and outer box as well as bracelet... sweet!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

1948 Roland

The 1948 Roland was only made for one year.  I think one of the best parts of this watch is just saying the name, Roland, Roland, Roland, keep them doggies Roland.  (No offense to all those Rolands out there).

As far as the design goes, it has an interesting case.  I don't know how to describe it... a bunch of rounded figures at the top and bottom between the fixed lugs.  It's quite similar to another model from slightly earlier - the 1940 Russell, except the Russell has flexible lugs.  Both models use the same crystal.

You're going to find a 17 jewel 987A under the hood unless someone made a swap over the past 60+ years.  They're relatively easy to come by considering they were only available in 1948 and tend to wear a lot to the rounded ball-section of the front bezel, so getting a nice case is the key to this model.

All cleaned up I think it's a pretty sharp looking watch, plus it has a fun name.

Monday, August 27, 2012

1936 Clark and 1940 Yorktowne

One interesting bit of Hamilton trivia is related to the 1936 Clark and the 1940 Yorktowne.  These models are often mis-identified as each other as they were not made at the same time but are almost identical.

The Clark was made for three years, 1936 through 1938.  The Yorktowne was introduced in 1940 and was made for two years until impacted by the start of WWII.

The main difference between the two is the Clark has a 14K gold filled case, while the Yorktowne has a 10K gold filled case.  Also, they used different styled hands but sometimes the hands are changed so the cases are the best judge.  Other than that, you'd be hard pressed to tell them apart.

The Clark also came with an inlaid black enamel dial - while the Yorktowne came with an AGN dial only.  You rarely see the Clark with an enamel dial though.

Both models share the 14/0 17 Jewel 980 movement.  Both are also prone to wear through on the front of the lugs, back of the lug tips and along the sides of the reverse.   The Yorktowne probably holds up better though - as 10K is harder than 14K.

Here's a couple of close ups from my collection.  First the Clark

and a wrist shot.

And here's a beautiful shot of an enamel dialed Clark, courtesy of Tom Diss.

And here's a wrist shot of a Yorktowne

Sunday, August 26, 2012

1930 Raleigh

In 1930 Hamilton retired most of the original geometric models and introduced a bunch of new replacements that would be made for the next few years.  One of the new models was the Raleigh, produced through 1932.

The Raleigh came in all three gold filled options, green, white or natural yellow.  It came with a luminous dial or with an etched numeral dial.  Models came plain or engraved.

I recently acquired a Raleigh Plain for my personal collection that was in need of some TLC.  As received, it was in decent shape, with a little wear through on the corners and a lot of gunk in the crevices of the case.

One of the things I liked about the watch was it's a Christmas watch... although it's a little hard to tell in it's dirty state.  I have a real soft spot for Christmas watches - sort of a "Glass Menagerie" kind of thing I guess - especially during the height of the Great Depression.  The giving of a watch like this was a big deal back then.

The 17 jewel 987-F is the standard movement for this watch.  The F is for Friction - as the jewel setting are pressed into the bridges versus being held in with screws on the standard 987.  You'll also see a 987-E.  Although you might guess the E came before the F, in actuality it is the opposite.  The E was introduced a few years later as the E stands for Elinvar - Hamiltons "new" hairspring material.  Otherwise the E and F are identical.

All cleaned up and drying, everything is about ready to go back together.

Now reassembled, the Raleigh is ticking away and doing it's thing.  It's a sharp looking watch, sometimes called "the poor man's Langley" as it's very similar to a solid gold Langley.

Here's a photo of a Langley for comparison.

If you've got well trained eyes you'll note the dial on my Raleigh is an incorrect refinish.  The tell is the Hamilton name is the incorrect font for this time period - otherwise it would look pretty good.  The correct font is a serif font (like on the Langley), where mine is sans-serif and correct in a later years but not for this time period.  Purists can be pretty annoyed by small details like this.   I think it's not bad enough to refinish but I would agree a correct luminous dial with matching re-lumed hands would look better.

Here you can see MY and JM's affection continues to last and will hopefully do so for another 80 years.

UPDATE:  I decided to get the dial refinished so that it would look entirely correct.  A Raleigh with such a nice case as this one deserves to look as good as it can.

Here's a wrist shot of another Raleigh Plain I have.  This one is in a white case with an original lumed dial but the incorrect hands.  Note the font used for the Hamilton name.  I think it looks cool like this so I haven't bothered to redo the dial and get matching new lumed hands.  I think new lumed hands on an old dial stand out like new shoelaces on old sneakers.  Someday I'll redo it though ... maybe.

Finally, here's an example of a Raleigh Engraved with the Etched Dial courtesy of fellow Hamilton enthusiast, Dave McCamon.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

1946 Alan - Overhaul

Made only for one year, the Alan was shown in the 1946 catalog but may have been introduced in 1942 - only to be interrupted by WWII.

It's very similar to other period watches, especially the Dennis, which was introduced the following year.

Several watches from this era used the standard equivalent of a 14mm strap (9/16").  So this is part of a family of long, narrow watches that utilizes the 14/0 sized 17 jewel 980 movement.

The case is 10K gold filled with a sterling silver dial along with solid 18K gold numerals.

I recently picked up an Alan as a project watch.  Here's a great example of what an overhaul can do for an old watch.

As you can clearly see, this original dial show's it's age - it is almost 70 years old after all.  I can probably give it a decent cleanup, it's a little too dirty to leave it as is.

The movement is surprisingly clean, just a little dusty.  But any dust at all is not a good environment for the internal parts over the long term.

I'd say this one is in need of a new crystal.  Don't you think?

I'll spare you the blow-by-blow disassembly but here's all the parts now cleaned up and drying.  Note how the mainspring (lower right) is pretty much set.  It should splay out and coil the other way.  I'll put the fresh one just above it into the mainspring barrel on the middle of the right side.  This watch will have 40 or so hours of run life.

Here's the movement, all put back together and running strong.

According to the timer its running pretty much dead on after a little tweaking of the regulator.

With a new crystal installed, I put the works back into the case and installed a period-correct Hamilton pigskin strap.

The lighting in my shop isn't as good as in my photo booth.  So here's the grand "ta-da!" shot.

I already have a very nice Alan, so this one is headed to the "for sale" drawer to hopefully go to a new home.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

1968 Accumatic A-608

Hamilton ceased to make US-made watches in 1969.  One of the watches introduced in 1968 and made up until the "bitter end" was the Accumatic A-608.

The 10K rolled gold plate case opens through the crystal to provide access to the Swiss-made automatic movement.  The hands have open slots to hold luminous material and a textured appearance near the center wheel.  The numbers 12, 3, 6 and 9 are faceted, as are the hour markers so this watch really sparkles.