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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

1928 Oval - Restoration

There are a few Hamilton models that were never catalogued.  One of them is the "Oval" - which did show up in the price lists but not the catalog.  The Oval was one of a few watches that were named after their shape... like the Rectangular, Barrel, and the Square... to name just a few.

The Oval only showed up in a couple (if only one) advertisements.

The Oval came in solid green and white gold as well as in gold filled.  About 400 where made in solid white gold and 200, or so, in solid green gold.

Bezels came as Plain or Engraved.  1,876 Plain Ovals were made in white gold filled and about the same were made with Engraved bezels.  Half as many (791 / 797) were made in green gold filled.

So they are a rather scarce model - especially in green.

There are a few platinum Ovals known to exist too - now those are RARE!

Behind the dial you're likely to find a 17 jewel, 6/0 sized 987 movement.

A friend of mine recently sent me an Oval Plain that he had picked up and asked for some help restoring it.   All I can say is, "Never again!"

Turns out, Ovals are really a pain... here's just a few reasons why.

  • The oval shaped bezel and back cover are tricky to remove and even more challenging to snap back on.  It's a pretty complex shape, and getting it perfectly aligned is necessary.
  • Shaping a glass crystal to fit an oval opening is equally challenging - again the oval shape is surprisingly complex to fit just right.
  • The lugs are shaped to accommodate curved spring bars that go around the elongated case.  Bending spring bars to fit the shape is very challenging.  Spring bars are easily broken.
  • Getting a strap thin enough to fit the small space between the curved shape of the case and the spring bar is also a challenge.
Other than that - there's nothing to it!

Here's a picture of what I started with.  All four lugs were terribly worn - in fact, a couple were worn completely through.  I was very concerned that the pressure of a strap would blow them out completely.  The silver dial was very tarnished and could stand a good cleaning as well

I sent the case out to Buchkosky Jewelers in Minnesota http://buchkosky.com to have their very talented gold smith, Mike Wigen, work his magic on the lugs.  He has done a few other yellow gold filled cases for me in the past.

Turns out white gold filled is a different story and a little trickier to pull off - but in the end, Mike did a nice job and I think the case turned out well.

Add the installation of a freshly serviced 987 movement and a new glass crystal to cover the cleaned up dial (with freshly lumed hands).  A black cotton canvas strap completed the assembly and I think it turned out really nicely.

I could get the dial professionally redone but I think the mottled patina of it looks very interesting and fitting of a 85 year old watch.

What do you think?


  1. Dan you are a genius - and hats off to Mike for his recovery work on the lugs. The watch looks fantastic and will be worn with pride. It is so pleasing to see it recover much of its former glory. Roger

  2. Very unusual (to my eye) as I'm not accustomed to seeing a man's watch in this shape. Very handsome. I think I'd have gone ahead with the dial. But that's a personal thing. Beautiful work, though.

  3. It's difficult to find a thin, supple strap to fit the curved spring bars on an Oval. The 16mm Hadley Roma MS700 Java lizard strap works perfectly. It's not padded and stitched and just 2mm thick. You can find it in black or brown, regular or long, for under $30.

  4. good to know somebody that can laser solder....only way to fix those lugs!