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.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

1946 Donald

It must have been an exciting time in the Hamilton factory in 1946 as production returned to civilian models.  Production was limited though, and only 20 men's models were included in the 1946 line-up.

One of the models introduced in 1946 was the Donald.  It continued to be made until 1952.

The Donald came in a solid 14K yellow gold case with a sterling silver dial with applied18K solid gold numerals.

In 1946, all of the solid gold models had 14/0 sized  movement.  Being solid gold, each had the upgraded 19 jewel 982M (medallion) movement.  The 982M is virtually identical to the 982 movement, except it is finished to a higher degree of tolerances and decoration.

Being produced for seven years, the Donald is fairly easy to come by, relatively speaking.  It's not as common as similar gold filled models but it's certainly not rare.

I recently picked up an interesting example - and it came with it's original boxes.  The outer blue box has a label with the watch model name, along with the case serial number and the movement number.

Inside was a very nice example on a great, period-correct strap.

The dial pattern is correct for the Donal but the finish on the dial looks a little shiny to be original.  I suspect it has been refinished at some point.  That's not a big deal though - refinishing dials is very common with vintage Hamiltons and it was often included in the regular overhaul process.

Sure enough, behind the dial there are some numbers scratched in - confirming this dial was redone at some point.

On the back of the 982M you can see the gold "medallion" representing that this is a special movement.  Considering most people would never look at the back of the watch movement - the fact that Hamilton put so much attention to detail in the fine finish work of their movements is a testament to their premier quality.

To me, the best thing about a solid gold case is there's never any green verdigris to clean off like there is  on gold filled cases.

The overhaul process for a 982M is the same as any 980 or 982.  You can check one out here if you'd like to see the details.

With everything freshly cleaned, oiled and regulated, this Donald turned out to be a beautiful example.

Oddly enough, the case number and movement number do not match the outer box info.  So it's not a completely "matched" set.  It sort of makes you wonder how it came about though... was the box added later, was the watch returned for service and a different one substituted?

There is no way to tell for sure.  It will have to remain a mystery.


  1. I have found a couple in original boxes like this before and have seen the same thing the outer paper box will be close in description but he numbers will be off. I have always thought that like a friend of mine years ago who had a large Jewelry store, he would take them out of the paper box and display them in their fancy inner cases and when they sold he would put them back in their paper box as well and sometimes they would get mixed up after someone else in the store had sold and given the wrong sleeve to their customer. Just a thought have a great day!

  2. I have a beautiful Donald I received from a close family friend who worked for Kay Jewelers for 40 years. Nice little watch, keeps great time. It has the Armstrong Company logo so was a corporate gift, but I just say it means Army, as I served 31 years.

  3. Just stumbled on this and wanted to post my "Donald" story. Being named Donald made the choice for a gold, vintage, dress watch obvious. After unsatisfying purchases of an original (bad shape) and a redialed (horrible job) I began the search for a 1953 (my birth year) model - only to discover they were not made past 1952. A "watch buddy" ran across one that had been engraved in 1953 (retirement gift 'natch). I'm keeping this one! I would like to get a strap like that one and an original crown - mine is very worn.

    1. You can find vintage Hamilton 16mm or 5/8" straps on eBay. They're not cheap of course. A crown is relatively easy to locate too.

  4. Hi. I was looking at getting a Donald. I found one with the Serial No: M95799
    It is listed as from 1941, but you said they were made between 1946 - 1952.
    Can you tell the date from the Serial No?
    Thanks.---Ted :-)

  5. I have a question regarding the watch case pictured. Was the case common to all Hamilton watches of 1946 or did different models have different cases? I have a very nice case from my late uncle but unfortunately the watch is gone. TIA!

    1. Each model has it's own case and the dial is important too. The movement is interchangeble between models but the dial and case are what make the model unique.

      If you want to send me a photo of your case, I can probably tell you what it is and then you just need to find a movement and dial - which are both relatively easy to do. You can contact me by email using the "clicking here" link above my photo in the upper right, or through my Etsy shop.

  6. I have s Donald and did they all come new with a brown strap. Mine has a black strap at the moment

    1. I’m sure if you bought a Donald new in a jewelry store that you could have your choice of strap colors.

  7. One important point about the 982M involves the hairspring. Hamilton used their Ni-Span-C alloy instead of Elinvar. The new alloy accounted for a major performance upgrade.

    1. Not so sure about that one Tom. According to the 1941 catalog (released in 1940) the 982M (and ladies 911M), "are the finest wrist and strap watch movements produced by Hamilton. In addition to the superior damaskeening and finishing of all parts, they are position adjusted and timed to closer tolerances. These movements are identified by the small gold Medallion set in the train bridge. Other specifications are the same as grades 911 and 982."

      That said, not too long after the 982M came out, the silver-colored Elinvar Extra hairsprings were introduced - but that was for all movements, not just the 982M.

      In addition, if you look in the 1947 Hamilton Materials Catalog the 980, 982 and 982M all share the same balance assembly.