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.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

1920 Model 972 Pocket Watch

Pocket watches are a fun and interesting genre of Hamilton collecting.  If memory serves, I think there are about 30 different grades of mechanical pocket watch movements when all the various sizes and forms are taken into consideration.   Some are quite scarce - and demand a healthy premium - especially the high grade 23 jewel railroad models but there are other uncommon variants out there as well.

But one of the more abundant models you're sure to come by is the humble Model 972.

The 972 was an entry level 16 size open faced movement.  In a hunter case (with a metal clam-shell style case) the model is a 973.  Hunter style movements are oriented with the stem on the side - and are sometimes called "side winders".  You can tell a hunter style from an open style based on the location of the seconds hand relative to the stem / crown.  You can check out a 973 here.

The 972 is not a "railroad approved" model but it's still a very nice time piece.

972's were produced for a LONG time too - from the late 1890's until 1924, so you'll see a variety of dial designs depending upon the era.  In addition, it was usually sold uncased to jewelers.  So you would pick out your movement and then the jeweler would show you different 16 size cases to install it in.

I recently picked up a 972 in a favorite local shop.  It was in rough shape with a yellowed plastic crystal and a broken mainspring.  But I could tell that a little tender loving care would go a long way in restoring it to a faithful timekeeper.

The back of the movement is heavily damascened.  Each of the ruby jewels is set in a solid gold setting.  The regulator on the balance cock also has a "micro-regulator" - which is a combination of a screw and spring to allow very precise adjustment of the regulator arm.  The regulator effectively lengthens or shortens the hair spring... and makes the watch run either a little slower (lengthened) or faster (shortened).  The regulator will typically allow adjustments to within a couple of minutes per day range.  Beyond that, a watchmaker can regulate the watch using the screws on the balance wheel.

In the shot below you can see the broken mainspring inside the barrel.  The barrel is technically the "first wheel" in the gear train.  When you wind a watch to store the power in the barrel and the barrel transmits the power through the gear train.

If you wind a watch and it just keeps on winding without the any tension build up then it's a good sign that the mainspring is broken - although other issues could also be present.   It could just be disconnected too.  You never know for sure unless you look but you can clearly see below that the spring is broken in the innermost coil.

New mainsprings usually come pre-coiled.  If you're lucky you can just slide them into the barrel.  Otherwise you need to let them uncoil and then rewind them using a mainspring winder to install.

Pocket watch mainsprings are very powerful though and will pack a wallop if you're not careful with them.  I'm going to install the nice white alloy spring below.  Once installed, this watch will run for two days or so on a full wind.

With the movement completely disassembled, cleaned, oiled and reassembled, here's a shot of the dial-side of the movement's main plate called a "pillar plate".  This version of the 972 is "lever set" where you slide a lever out at the 1 position to put the watch into the time setting mode.  With the lever pushed in, the watch is in the winding mode, as shown.  The "strawberry jelly" is microgliss lubricant and is used to keep the keyless works sliding smoothly.  It's kind of globbed on there but once I wind the watch and the parts move it will spread out.

Here's a shot of the freshly cleaned movement purring away inside the case.  I love the way a pocket watch glistens when everything is clean.  Even the gold jewel mounts sparkle.

And lastly, here's the dial side - all cleaned up and ready for a new glass crystal to be installed.  This really is a pretty watch.  Don't you think?


  1. the glory of pocket watches is the graphics on the face. The numerals are exquisite to my eye and the hands seem as though they're drawn on the face by a calligrapher.

  2. FYI it is a rail road grade watch say right on data base