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, January 26, 2014

1950 Vardon CLD

Hamilton's foray into waterproof designs was initially more along the lines of "environmentally protected".  That's why they introduced the CLD line.  All of the CLD watches were "sealed against moisture and dirt" but they weren't technically waterproof, per se.

The first CLD watches were introduced in 1948 and additional models joined the line up in 1950.  Among the newcomers was the 1950 Vardon.  The Vardon was produced through 1953.

The Vardon came in a stainless steel case with hidden lugs.  There's a gasket between he bezel and the case back and also a gasket in the crown - thus providing the "seal" that other dress watches lacked.

It featured a choice of an applied gold marker / numeral dial or a luminous dial.  The AGN dial's figures were rhodium plated to be silver colored and match the stainless steel.  Like gold, rhodium is a precious metal but it's even more expensive.

Behind the dial you will find Hamilton's 17 jewel 8/0 sized 747 movement.

The Vardon came with either a leather strap or a stainless steel bracelet - the latter being a new option for Hamilton watches.  Many models thereafter would be paired with unique bracelets specially selected to complement each watch's design.

I recently received a Vardon that needed some TLC.  Although it ran, it could be wound continuously and never reached a "fully wound" point.  Manual winding watches have a mainspring that is connected on both ends of the coil - so once it's fully wound it gets tight and stops winding.  When you see a watch for sale that says it's "Over wound" what that really means is "it's fully wound and doesn't run".

Anyway, other than having a mainspring issue, it was in very nice looking, original shape.  The dial has a couple of minor burns from the radium on the hands - but otherwise this watch is close to "new".

With the bezel removed, you can see that the movement comes out the front.  The stem is a two-piece design with the female portion retained in the crown.  To get the movement out you need to rotate the stem so you can see the male / female joint.  Then it will lift right out.

The 747 is a great movement to work on and about as simple as they come.  It's the movement that I would recommend a new hobbyist try to tackle first.  The bridges only have two axles to line up and the axles are short so they're easy to get into place.

I happened to have a crystal and gasket set for the Vardon.

As you can see below, the original Vardon crystal is slightly more domed than the crystal that is currently on the watch.  Unfortunately the Vardon crystal has yellowed with age so I'll keep the flat crystal that is on the watch - it's more colorless.

Once the movement is taken apart, the mainspring barrel can be opened up to access the mainspring.  As you can see below, it's broken a little more than half way through the coil.  The friction between the coils was enough to allow some tension to be applied and run the watch.  However, since it's not held firmly the spring would slip when too much tension was created - thus never getting fully wound.

With the arbor and center of the mainspring removed you can clearly see where the break was.

All the parts (except the balance and pallet fork) go into the cleaning solution.  The balance and pallet fork get cleaned separately in order to protect the jewels that are held in place with shellac.  I'm not worried about the solution, it's the ultrasonic that will shake them loose if I'm not careful.  The ultrasonic with also move the timing screws in the balance wheel - and mess up the poising of the balance.

Everything goes back together nicely and the watch goes onto the timer.  You can see the effect of tweaking the regulator starting under the number 252… the rate went a little faster, then it evened out a little toward the right side under the 18000.  The results leave the right side of the screen and then come back on the left side, overwriting the prior results.  So by the time it reached the 252 again it was running about 12 seconds fast per day.  Not bad for a 60+ year old watch.

I had one small casualty while reinstalling the dial and hands… a small section of the lume on the hour hand disintegrated when I pushed the hand back on the hour wheel.  Putting new lume on it would look silly so I just applied a little model paint that was a fairly close match.  Someday when the dial and hands get redone they will all match each other again.  Until then, this will have to do.

This style of hands is called "hollow leaf" and when set to the traditional Hamilton time of 10:12 they remind me of the Cheshire Cat peering back at you like in Alice in Wonderland.

Other than the unfortunate hour hand issue, this Vardon turned out great, I think.  It's definitely a fine example of the model - that's for sure.


  1. Hi Dan,

    Great article with excellent description and clear pictures to tempt one to open the case and remove the movement.

    I bow to your expertise and attention to detail in lovingly restoring Hamilton watches and extending the useful life of the watch.

    Cheers, Rob

  2. My computer will not open your pictures any more. Sure liked the old way much better. Hard to follow without pics.

    1. Photobucket is down at the moment. They should come back eventually. Stay tuned.

  3. Hey Dan,
    I have a Vardon and I'm missing the crown, know where I can get one, Sir ?

  4. Morning Dan,
    I pulled out the crown to open, but one of the hooks broke. I am very sad. how do i find a new crown?
    I would like to shine my vardon again

    1. You'll need to find another CLD female stem hub. The part number 615270

  5. Hello Dan, great site! I got a Vardon from my grandfather and everything works as it should except the spring is probably broken and the numbers are somewhat faded. I would like to take it to a shop but am afraid that it might get damaged in trying to fix it. What would be the best option to try to get this great looking watch fixed and moving again? (Random shop, mail it off to a specialist, or take it in to someone specific in the Colorado area?) thanks in advance.