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.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

1957 Kinematic

My last post for 2013 is going to be another somewhat obscure Automatic.  Probably the smallest run of automatic models is the Kinematic series - there are only two… the Kinematic I and the Kinematic II.  The first Kinematic, the "I" was introduced in 1957 and produced for three years.

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The Kinematic I comes in a yellow rolled gold plated case with a stainless steel back.  The silver butler finished dial has embossed yellow markers.  The hands are solid pointed style and unlike other period watches, this watch does not have luminous markers or hands.

As you can see in the catalog ad, the crown on the watch is recessed into the bezel.

I recently picked up a Kinematic I and it was the first one I've seen.  It took me a while to identify it because I didn't know there was a Kinematic line.  I though it would likely be an Accumatic or Automatic K-something.

In any event, it was in decent shape but I could not wind it with the crown, just shake it.  It did run though - so that was a good sign.

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The stainless steel back screws on - a typical feature for waterproof watches from this era.

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With the back removed you get to see something that you don't often see… this watch has a 17 jewel Hamilton 672 movement.  I was surprised to see this inside and I expected to see a Hamilton 661, which was more frequently used.  In fact, after I got this watch I saw another for sale and it did have a 661, so perhaps Hamilton made a movement change mid-run… I don't know for sure.

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The 672 is an ETA 1256 movement.  Only two screws hold the rotor assembly on and once they're pulled the assembly comes straight off.  Once the rotor is off, the movement becomes your basic manual winding movement.

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The ETA logo is under the balance and once the main plate is stripped of parts, you can see the logo and the 1256.  As I understand it, the ETA 1256 was ETA's first automatic movement and was introduced in the early 1950's.  Today, all Hamilton watches use ETA movements.

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Everything gets cleaned, oiled and lubricated and you can see that a little tweaking of the regulator brings the timing right into like.  Hamilton's US-made movements are excellent but you have to admit that the Swiss grades are great performers too.

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And here's the finished product prepared with a fresh crystal and a new lizard strap.

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It turns out the crown was frozen in the case so once everything was cleaned and oiled it went back to winding properly… which is good because this crown is very small and recessed too, so it's also tough to wind by hand.  Just a few turns gets the watch running and the rotor will wind it from there while it's worn.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

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Well, here it is… another year in the bag and one day to reflect on what is really important.

If you've followed my muses on Hamilton watches then you probably know that Christmas watches are my favorite to collect.

Watches with a unique presentation are opportunities to research who the original owner was and to look back in time.  But Christmas watches require no research at all - you know exactly how and why the watch was given… it was given with love to someone special.  What more is there to know?

Looking back over my 2013 acquisitions, I only landed three Christmas watches.

A 1937 Sutton:

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A 1947 Roland

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And this 1957 K-455

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These "ghosts of Christmas past" remind me that although time flies, some things are constant - like the wish for peace on earth and good will toward men.  That's something that requires more than one day a year to come true.

I think Charles Dickens said it best, "I will honor Christmas in me heart, and try to keep it all the year."  To me, wearing Christmas watches is a good way to honor the spirit of Christmas all year round.

So as I close out another year, let me say thanks to all of you who have shared your interest in Hamiltons with me.  Merry Christmas to you and your families.  May the peace and joy of this season find a resting place in your heart.

Best wishes for a prosperous 2014 and happy hunting!

Monday, December 23, 2013

1949 Hardy Pocket Watch - 921 Movement

I happened to be in downtown Philadelphia this morning and killed some time walking around "jewelers row".  It's about a city block worth of jewelry stores, most of which advertise "we buy gold, watches, etc", so I thought is would be interesting to see if I could find any Hamilton project watches.

There were plenty of watches for sale but most at high retail prices and already restored.  As fortune would have it though, I came across a very cozy watch shop with a really friendly proprietor and I picked up several nice projects - one of which was a 1949 Hardy pocket watch.

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Pocket watches can usually be identified by the case and bow style, along with the movement inside.  What drew my attention to the watch was the high grade, 21 jewel 921 movement.  The 921 is a 10 size grade and a step up from the 17 jewel 917 grade.  There's also a 23 jewel version called the 923.

The 921 was introduced in 1936 and produced through 1954.

Here's what I started with for my 1949 Hardy.  It's was in nice aesthetic shape but the case was a little beat up around the edges.  The dial and hands were great though.

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The 921 movement was locked up tight and wouldn't wind at all.  The balance would move though when gently shaken - so that was a good sign.  If you've got a good eye for detail, you'll eventually see that the regulator is missing from the balance assembly.  The micro regulator is there to adjust it but the regulator itself is gone.

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With the dial and hands removed you can see that the 921 looks a lot like the 6/0 sized 987A that you've seen me overhaul before.  The 921 is just a LOT bigger.

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It turns out the reason the winding was locked up was the click was stuck.  The click is a little mechanism that prevents the large ratchet wheel from unwinding when you wind the watch.  The smaller wheel that turns the ratchet wheel is called the winding wheel - go figure.

In the shot below, all three parts are removed.  You can see that this movement has a special arbor for the mainspring and it rides in jewels in the ratchet wheel and the main plate - that accounts for two of the 21 jewels.

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The barrel bridge and train bridge come off just like any other movement.   Once they're off, access to the mainspring barrel is obtained and this barrel is different than most other barrels you come across.  The reason is it opens from the opposite side so it appears like the mainspring is wound in the other direction… you're really just looking at it from the other side.  You can also see below that the arbor is actually two pieces and one of them is still inside the barrel.  The post in the center is a part of the barrel and not removable.

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Here's the spring outside of the barrel and you can see that it's fairly "set" and has lost a lot of it's strength.

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I'll install this NOS genuine Dynavar mainspring.

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Here's the two springs side by side - you can see how much different a fresh mainspring is from a set mainspring.

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Installing mainsprings is very difficult to do without a mainspring winder.  This spring is big but small enough that I can use my smaller mainspring winder to recoil it.

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Here it is ready to go into the barrel.

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Unfortunately, my little winder wouldn't load the spring into the barrel - the barrel was too wide for the tool and the spring just popped out.  So I'll have to turn to my "big" mainspring winder.   This one is more challenging to use but handles really big pocket watch springs with ease.

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And voila - the new mainspring is installed and we're back in business.

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All the parts are cleaned, dried and lubricated when they go back together.  This movement really sparkles in comparison to when it was dirty.

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I happened to have a 917 with a bad balance so I removed it's regulator and will install it on this 921's balance cock.  Here you can see the two prongs that hold the hairspring and effectively control the length of the hairspring - and thereby the rate that it vibrates.  Without a regulator the watch would be limited only by the hairspring stud and would run too slow.

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The freshly cleaned balance is ready to go back onto the balance cock.  This is very tricky business and the hairspring is very delicate.  It's literally the heartbeat of the watch and if you bend it out of shape the watch will not run well.

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Success - the balance assembly is reinstalled and the watch is ticking away.  It is off to the timer next.

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Well, it's running about two minutes slow per day… I can do better than that.

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The micro regulator has a small screw that you adjust to move the regulator from side to side.  I just need to screw it "in" so the regulator moves to the left, toward the "fast" side.

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Alright, 2 seconds fast per day… that's more like it.  The beat error of 6.6 is a bit higher than I usually like to see but adjusting it is a pain and would require removing the balance again.  That's the equivalent of playing with fire, so I'll leave it as is.  A high beat error can cause a watch to stop a little earlier than a watch with a low beat error when the mainspring unwinds but other than that it's not a big deal.

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I happened to have a nicer 10S case so I cased this movement in it.  Technically this is no longer a Hardy - but I like it better this way.  Check out how nice and bright this movement looks now!

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And here it is from the front… as you can see, this case is engraved and more decorative than the Hardy.  It's a very sharp looking dress watch now.

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Sunday, December 22, 2013

1940 Seckron

I posted the other day about Hamilton's use of B models.  The first B model (that I'm aware of) was the 1931 Cushion B.   But I can think of one model that should have been a B and wasn't, and that's the 1940 Seckron.  It was produced though 1941.

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The 1940 Seckron is an updated version of the 1935 Seckron that was produced through 1939.  I posted before on the 1935 Seckron.  Although the earlier version used the same movement (a 980A or 980B) it is actually in a different case.  The similarities are there, but if you look closely there are some significant differences in the shape but a major difference is the material changed from 14K gold filled in the earlier example to 10K gold filled in the 1940 version.  By all intents and principles the 1940 Seckron should be a Seckron B.

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It doesn't take very long to figure out that the Seckron is a unique watch.  It's often referred to as a "Doctor's watch" because it has a prominent second hand.  You need to recall that this watch was introduced before Hamilton's first central sweep second hand movement, the 987S.

In order to provide real estate on the dial for a larger seconds register, Hamilton engineers had to move the hour and minute hands up and out of the way.  So although the center wheel (that drives the minute hand) is in the center of the watch, the minute hand has been moved upward by the use of a gear train on top of the movement.

The Seckron is expensive to purchase today, especially in good shape.  The specialized parts for them are impossible to find so even parts movements will sell for well north of $200.  A very nice Seckron that's in serviced condition is arguably worth $800 to $1000!

A friend of mine recently sent me a Seckron that he purchased online.  It's running but not very well.   It's such a unique watch that, to be honest, I don't really have the confidence to take it apart - so I'm going to send this one out to a professional watchmaker. 

But I can show you some photos of it nonetheless.

Here are some shots of the outside case.

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And for comparison, here's what the earlier version looks like.  The shape of the case is similar but there are lots of subtle differences - take for example the length of the lugs.

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The case backs are different too - the 1940 example (below) is long and flat.  The 1935 versions is more of a deeper, dish shape.

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Here's some shots of the movement.  From behind, the 980B looks identical to the standard issue 980 movement - only the serial number and the train bridge give away that this is a 980B movement.

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But when you look at it from the side you can see the spacer plate in between the dial and the movement that allows the center wheel to move the relocated minute hand (and hour hand).  This shot also shows that the dial is bent at the top and bottom to accommodate the case bezel.  In the earlier version the dial is flat and the space plate extends past the top and bottom of the movement.

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Someday I will catch the rest of the world sleeping and land me a 980B parts movement for under $150 and then I'll take it apart and finally know for sure what's going on in the spacer plate.  I have to assume the 980B has a special center wheel with a shorter arbor and a special fourth wheel with a longer second hand bit.  But what really has me curious is how the minute hand and hour hand are driven.


Here's a picture of the business end of a 980B.  Note the second hand pivot is where it normally is.  There's what appears to be a stubby hour wheel in the center that engages the minute wheel like on any other 980 movement (that allows you to set the time).  But the shortened hour wheel also engages a similarly sized intermediate wheel, which in turn, engages the displaced cannon pinion for minute hand and the displaced hour wheel for the hour hand.

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Interesting, huh?

Saturday, December 21, 2013

1948 Secometer C

There are three different models of "Secometers" and if you tried to collect all the variations of the models you'd have a nice little Hamilton collection on your hands.

Take for example the 1948 Secometer C.  It was produced through 1951 with three different variations.

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As you can see in the catalog image, the Secometer C came with three different dial and hand configurations.  There's an AGN with gold dot dial, a black numeral dial and a luminous version.  The AGN and black enamel dial versions use a style of hands called "leaf".

The Secometer C is different from the Secometer and Secometer B in several ways but the most important difference is the case on a Secometer C is solid 14K yellow gold.  The other models are in gold filled cases.

The original Secometer from 1946 used a 6/0 sized, 17 jewel 987S movement with a center sweep second hand.  The 1948 Secometer B and the Secometer C both use the "new" 18 jewel 748 movement.  Both the B and the C have the same dial variations.

I recently received a Secometer C in need of some TLC.  It's the luminous dialed version and was very dirty when I got it.  The bracelet is not original.

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A closer inspection of the crystal revealed that it wasn't seated full to the bezel - that would explain why there was so much dust inside the crystal.

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The case back is fairly clean, albeit there is some funk near the stem opening.  You have to really appreciate that solid gold cases never have any green verdigris.  That's a easy way to spot a solid gold case over a gold filled one.

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The 8/0 sized 748 is a very capable movement, like it's cousin the 747.  It's a challenging movement to overhaul because it has a single train bridge that accommodates four wheels at once.  The wheels have long arbors so getting all four to line up at one time can be incredibly frustrating.  So it's an easy movement to take apart but a real bugger to put back together.

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The luminous dial has long since lost it's luminous-ness but other than an age spot by the 3, I think it looks very authentic with an even patina.

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There are some numbers scratched into the back - a good sign the dial has been refinished at least once in the past 60 years.

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Everything get's taken apart and throughly cleaned and dried before being reassembled with fresh oil and grease.

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A little tweaking to the regulator brings the timing down to a reasonable 9 seconds faster per day with great amplitude (thanks to a fresh mainspring) and with a low beat error too.

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And here's the finished project, freshly polished with all the dirt and grime removed.  I think it turned out to be a great example.  The case is sharp at the angles - which can often become rounded by over polishing.

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The luminous hands almost look like eyes peering back at you… don't they?


I decided to get the dial redone and I think my friends at International Dial really nailed this one… what do you think?