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.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

1956 Automatic K-407

Automatic or self-winding watches entered Hamilton's lineup in 1954 and have had a considerable presence ever since.  By 1956 there were almost twice as many Automatics than in 1954 with over 20 models to choose from.  That number would double again by 1960.

One of the earlier Automatics introduced in 1956 was the Automatic K-407.  It was produced for only two years.

Like other watches of the period, the K-407 came in a choice of a white dial or a black dial.  Both have luminous hands and dots outside of the solid 18K gold hour markers.

Under the dial you'll find Hamilton's 17 jewel 661movement.  All Hamilton automatics were made by a variety of Swiss manufacturers.  The 661 was made by Certina Kurth Freres and is a caliber 28.45.

The K-407 comes in a 10K yellow gold filled case with gold filled back.  The crown is recessed into the bezel and is barely visible when it's in the winding position.  This is a tricky watch to wind by hand since you can only really access one side of the crown.  Perhaps that's why it was only produced for two years.

The good news is it's self winding so after a few turns of the crown the watch starts running and will continue to wind as you wear it.

I've had both versions of the K-407 and I think they are each very cool in their own ways.  I think the black dial is more popular and it really makes a presence on the wrist with the contrasting gold case, markers and hands.

Here's a photo of the white-dialed version, before I changed the crystal - you can see it's cracked near the 7 marker.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

1965 Sea Mate II

Hamilton must have about 30 or more models named Sea-something.  So many, in fact, that they took to adding roman numerals to mark new models.  A good example is the 1965 Sea Mate II.  It's a completely different model than the 1959 Sea-Mate issued a few years earlier.

The Sea Mate II was one of a few watches that continued to be produced after 1969 - the year Hamilton was sold to what is now the Swatch Group.  It was produced until 1971.  Three dials where available... a white butler finished dial, a black dial and also a masonic dial.

The case is 10k rolled gold plate, RGP, with a stainless steel back.  It opens through the crystal so it has a two-piece stem.  I have found that these one-piece cases with a gold bezel and stainless back must be confusing to a lot of people - as it's not unusual to see pry-marks on the back where someone has tried to separate the two sections.

Inside is a Swiss-made Hamilton 688 movement... the same as an ETA 2390 with 17 jewels.

I recently picked up a Sea Mate II project watch.  After an overhaul, dial cleaning, new crystal and a strap - I think it turned out fantastic.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

1957 Grant

Over the 50 or so years that Hamilton made wrist watches in the USA, they issued different models with the same name as earlier models... sometimes more than once.  For example, there are multiple watches named Scott, Drake, Essex and many others.  At the same time there are lots of common men's names that were never used, like Joseph, William, and David.

Watches that share names usually have nothing in common with their predecessors other than their name.  One exception to the rule is the 1957 Grant.  It looks to be a 1950's version of the 1934 Grant with a more modern flair.  Not only are the similarly shaped, both Grants were only made for two years.

The 1957 Grant was part of Hamilton's Fine Men's Watch line - their entry level models.  Like most of it's peers in the "Fine Line", the Grant features a 17 jewel Swiss movement, in this case a 673 movement.

The case is 10K rolled gold plate with a stainless steel back.

The most distinctive feature of the Grant is the grooved quadrant dial and recessed seconds register.  These are details that don't show up in the Hamilton catalog's artists rendition.

I recently picked up a Hamilton Grant with what I believe to be is the original bracelet too.  The bracelet is very similar to the catalog image, although one could wonder is the black spots in the bracelet links is a feature that my bracelet lacks.

Personally, I'm of the opinion that the artist took a little creative license with the drawing and chose to add features that don't exist and hide features (like the dial) that do.  Regardless - I think it's a pretty attractive looking watch.

And just for comparison's sake, here's a 1934 Grant so you can see the similarities.

Monday, June 17, 2013

1973 A-517 Selfwinding

Hamilton ceased being an American company in 1969 when it sold it's operations to what is now a part of the Swatch Group... the same company that owns other high end watch lines like Omega.  After 1969 all of Hamiltons models featured Swiss-made movements.  Therefore, a lot of Hamilton collectors focus mainly on pre-1970 models.

I think the 1970's also brought some pretty funky, chunky and clunky designs - so that could limit what people have interest in collecting as well.  Not all 1970's designs are monstrosities though - and some carry forward designs started in the 1960's.

It's often hard to tell a pre-1969 watch from a post-1969 model.  One of the easiest identifiers is to look inside the case back.  If it says "Hamilton Watch Company, Lancaster PA" it's likely a pre-1969 model.   In 1970 and beyond it says "Hamilton Watch Company" and "Swiss" inside.

Another easy tell is if the dial says "selfwinding".  That seems to be a 1970's term for automatic.

Anyway - I recently caught my eye on a 1970's watch that I thought was really cool looking.  It reminded me of something Woody Allen would have worn in "Sleeper".  It's a 1973 Sellfwinding A-517.

The A-517 only shows up in the 1973 catalog and the catalog is in black and white - so you don't get a good idea of what the watch really looks like in person.  It's very hard to tell what the correct bracelet would be for the model but it takes an 18mm strap.

It's a large watch at about 39mm wide by 43mm lug tip to tip.  It's egg-like case tapers at the edges so it's a very smooth, almost sleek, design with no sharp edges other than where it meets the strap.

The dial is a brushed finished gray with bright silver hour markers and blue plastic accents.  The paddle-style hands are silver with a blue stripe down the center to match the hour markers.

When I received the watch above, the crystal had a large crack in it.  Although the bezel opening is oval shaped, the crystal is actually round.  It is a flanged crystal sort of like a top hat and installs from behind the bezel.  The flange is round but the stepped oval portion fits into the bezel opening.

At first I thought, "Oh crap - how am I going to find a crystal for this thing?"  But it turns out I was able to find it in my GS Crystal catalog (based on the dimensions) and I was able to source one with ease.

Under the dial is a 17 jewel Hamilton 815 automatic movement.  This is the same caliber as an ETA 2770.

Now I just need to find a nice leisure suit to go with it.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

1941 Myron

In 1941 Hamilton introduced models in "Coral Gold", aka rose gold.  Some were in solid coral gold and others in coral gold filled.  These models were also available in yellow gold cases too.  The coral gold versions were only produced for one year and were interrupted by WWII.  After the war, the coral gold options were not reintroduced - so they're all fairly unique collectibles.

One of these special models was the 1941 Myron.   The yellow gold filled model was produced through 1951 - although the coral gold version is much more scarce.

Presented in a 10K gold filled case, the Myron featured Hamilton's 17 jewel, 14/0 sized 980 movement.  The case is prone to wear through on the tips of the rounded lugs but examples in very good condition are pretty easy to come by.

The dial is sterling silver and either finished in a two-tone butler / white finish or the pink coral finish.  The yellow-cased Myron has solid 18K yellow gold numerals on the dial.   The coral gold-cased models also have solid gold numerals but they are rhodium plated to look like white gold.

I recently picked up a coral gold Myron - it was in excellent shape though it looked a little funny with very thick, curved crystal that gives the watch a gold fish bowl effect.  It's so thick that I think it actually protected the case from excessive wear.

I've restored a number of Myrons over my experience collecting Hamiltons.  The Myron is a good sized watch for a model from this period.  The 14/0 movement is compact enough to outfit some very small men's watches.  Even though the Myron is small by today's standards, it's a large watch compared to it's peers.

Here's an example of a yellow-cased Myron I restored a while back.  The before shot shows you the typical wear pattern to the lugs.  And as you can see, the dial was a complete disaster and needed to be redone.  The watch had nice hands though - so it had that going for it.

The after-shot with a fresh redial, new glass crystal and polished case shows what a little TLC can do for a vintage watch.  Definitely a keeper!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

1955 Automatic K-402

Hamilton introduced it's first automatics in 1954 with 12 different models.  Models were named Automatic K-something with the "something" being a number.  Numbers with a 1XX had 18K solid gold cases, 2XX had 14K solid gold cases, 3XX had 10K solid cases, 4XX had gold filled cases and 5XX were stainless steel.

So it makes sense that the Automatic K-402 was an early watch in a gold filled case.  It was introduced in 1955 and produced for three years.

As you can see in the catalog ad, the K-402 came with a choice of black or white dials.

Behind the dial you'll find Hamilton's 17 jewel 661movement.  All Hamilton automatics were made by various Swiss manufacturers.  The 661 was made by Certina Kurth Freres and is a caliber 28.45.  The little toggle-switch looking thing on the rotor is actually used to remove the rotor.  Flip it to the left and the rotor will come off (once you rotate it to the right position).

On the wrist, the K-402 is a sharp looking watch, both figuratively speaking as well as looking at the stepped case with sharply angled lugs, hour markers and dauphine-style hands.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

1951 Boyd

Vintage watches tend to be a little on the small side - especially when compared to today's modern versions.  I think the smallness "peaked" in the 1940's and early 1950's although the trend probably started when Hamilton introduced it's narrow 14/0 sized 980 and 982 movements.

One of the larger small-watches is the 1951 Boyd.  I like saying the name as it always reminds me of "look at the pretty boyd".  It was only produced for two years.

The Boyd came in a 14K yellow gold filled case.  The sterling silver dial is finished in white with solid 18K gold numerals.

Behind the dial is Hamilton's 8/0 sized, 17 jewel 747 movement.  This movement replaced the larger 6/0 sized 987A in 1947 and is probably my favorite movement - as it's the easiest to learn about.

In fact, if you've ever wondered how a watch works and what parts make it up, check out this video.  It features the 747 and was made as a tutorial for Hamilton's sales force.   How a Watch Works

I think the Boyd is a very nice, simple looking dress watch.  My example below is engraved "The Best of Texas Golf, 1951"

Sunday, June 2, 2013

1958 Automatic K-409

Hamilton collectors often gravitate to certain genres of watches like Art Deco, pocket watches, or electrics.

The earliest watches from the 1920's and, especially, the 1930's were often large and had very interesting engraved or stepped cases.  Different dials also spiced up the offering.

In the 1940's, watches seemed to get a lot smaller.  Hamilton discontinued their larger 6/0 sized movements in favor of the narrower 14/0 movements (the 980, 982 and 982M) and the newly created 8/0 sized movements (like the 747 and 748).  Post WWII watches through the early 1950's are usually quite small - some would even be misconstrued as ladies watches by todays standards.

Then in the late 1950's watches started to get bigger and, with American-made movements as well as Swiss-made movements, plus the "new" Electric movements, there was a broad variety of styles to choose from.  Many of the models from the late 1950's and the 1960's were down right "futuristic".  A Hamilton collector could amass a very impressive collection just by specializing in Hamilton's space-age watches from 1955 on.

A good example of a semi-futuristic watch from this period is the 1958 Automatic K-409.  The K-409 was made for two years.

The K-409 came in a 10K yellow gold filled case with your choice of a black dial or a white dial.  The dial is very fancy with a lines radiating from the center and extending to a simple band that encircled the outer perimeter.  Gold numerals, dots and markers complete the aesthetic.  Under the hood (so to speak) you'll find a 17 jewel Swiss-made Hamilton 661 automatic movement.

I find the K-409 to be an interesting but cumbersome design.  The crown recesses a little into the side of the case so it tucks into the side and is hard to get to if you want to wind the watch by hand.  To set the time you pull the crown out and it's better exposed - so it's a lot easier to set than to wind.  Also, I think the dial design makes it a little hard to see the hands.

But, it's those design elements that make this watch a little different than your ordinary watch - which is exactly what I imagine the designers were trying to accomplish 55 years ago.

I guess they felt that if you didn't like the design, that's cool, they had over 110 other models you could choose from.


I've also restored a black dialed K-409... you can check it out here.