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, March 30, 2014

1955 Automatic K-403

There are 59 different Automatic K-XXX models from the 1950's.  Even more if you consider all the different dial variations, colors, etc.  I have a long way to go if I plan to detail them all on this blog.  Of course, some of them are solid 18K and 14K gold so I will have to dig deep if I ever see those versions for sale.  The gold filled and stainless steel examples are much more in line with my watch allowance.

A good example of the more affordable Automatic K-series watches is the 1955 Automatic K-403.  It was produced for three years.

The K-403 comes in a 10K yellow gold filled case.  Only a white dial with yellow embossed numerals and markers.  The hands are luminous to match the luminous  dots applied to the markers and numbers on the dial.

Behind the dial is a 17 jewel, Swiss-made Hamilton 661 automatic movement - the typical movement in almost all K-series watches from the 1950's.

My K-403 project watch was in decent shape but in need of some care, for sure.  You can see the upper left lug is bent inward and the case has it's fair share of bumps and bruises.  The movement is not running.

I like when the case back is the same material as the bezel.  I don't mind stainless steel backs though - I just prefer when the case back is gold filled to match the front.  A little gentle polishing will make this watch shine brightly.  You can see that a metal bracelet has taken it's toll on the lugs and worn slight grooves into them.

If you follow my blog, you've seen me overhaul lots of 661 movements.  If you've got an eye for detail, you might notice the ratchet wheel screw is missing.  This is the screw that holds the large ratchet wheel into the mainspring barrel arbor.  That screw keeps the ratchet wheel from popping off and releasing all of the mainspring tension.  I'll need to get a replacement in order to complete the overhaul - you wouldn't want to risk running the watch without this screw.

The rotor is easily removed by sliding the toggle switch near the center to the left.  Then the rotor will slip off when it is rotated to the right spot.  Taking the rotor off makes it a little easier to handle the movement when taking it out.

In the shot below, you can see the rotor off to the side and only the rotor carrier is left on the movement.

Well, here's a pleasant surprise!  The ratchet wheel screw in upside down and next to the balance wheel (just left of center).  That would explain why the watch wasn't running - it's the proverbial "wrench in the works" and kept the balance from turning.  That's a good bit of luck!

The dial is a quality refinish.  The main tell is the word "Automatic" should be slightly curved.  But that's a very minor detail and the rest of the dial details look very nice.

Everything is now cleaned and set out to dry before being reassembled.  I think the hardest part of reassembling a 661 is getting the rotor carrier back into place.  You need to line up four different pivots and there is very little room to fiddle with them and get them in place.

The watch is now running vigorously and tweaking the regulator eventually got it to maintain a nice beat rate.

Putting the hands back on requires looking at them from this angle.  You install them at 12:00 so you know they're synced but you also need to make sure they are parallel to each other and to the dial as well.  As long as they are parallel they won't run into anything and stop the watch.  I haven't put the second hand on yet but it will go on top in the same fashion.

The last step is to put the newly serviced movement back into the case.  Then the rotor can go back on before buttoning it all back up.

Here's the finished project watch, all polished  and looking great.  I was able to bend the lugs back into proper position.  I can't do much about the wear to the lugs but I think the watch looks great - it is over 50 years old, after all.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

1958 Deauville

I think it's very interesting when I find a Hamilton model changes slightly over different model years.  New dial patterns are introduced or removed, hands might be changed, even the movement can be changed.

Take for example the 1958 Deauville.  It was produced for three years and in the third year the dial was dramatically changed (for the better).

In 1958 and 1959, the Deauville dial was a plain embossed dial with markers and numerals.  The hands were a pointex (aka alpha) style.

Then in 1960, the dial was changed to a more decorative embossed dials with numbers at 12 but markers everywhere else.  The hand style was changed to a baton style.

Regardless of the model year, the 10K yellow rolled gold plate case was the same.  Tucked inside is a Swiss-made Hamilton 673 movement made by A. Schild.

I recently received a very nice example of a 1960 Deauville.  You can tell it's a 1960 because of the textured dial.  It sort of looks like a woven cloth or parchment.  I think it's way more attractive than the plain dial in the 1958 / 59 models.

The stainless steel back has a little lip between the lugs - a clear indicator that the back will pop off to open the case.

Without the crystal and bezel in place, the decorations on the dial are clearly evident. I would hate to try to get this dial refinished - I bet it wouldn't turn out as nice as this original example looks.

The 673 is a straightforward manual winding movement.  If you've followed my blog for a while, you'll probably agree that this a commonly used movement for Hamiltons from the late 1950's and early 1960's.

Everything gets taken apart and thoroughly cleaned before being reassembled with fresh oil and lubricants.

There's no complaining about this watch's performance.

And here's the finished product, all polished up and looking as great as it runs!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

1968 Lord Lancaster CC

A couple of weeks ago I posted some information about the Lord Lancaster line of diamond-dialed models and how they're all named Lord Lancaster with a letter (A, B, C, etc).  One would think the nomenclature would continue all the way through Z, if they had 26 models. but it doesn't.  There are 21 Lord Lancaster models and they go as high a T before starting over with AA, BB, etc.  Plus, there's no I, O, P or Q - sort of makes you wonder what the rationale was, doesn't it?

One of the double-digit Lord Lancaster models is the 1968 Lord Lancaster CC.  It was produced through 1969.

The Lord Lancaster CC is one of the few models that came in both white as well as yellow rolled gold plate.  One of the tell-tale clues of a Lord Lancaster is the white case with a conservative diamond layout on the dial. If you see an over-the-top diamond display with "bling out the wazoo" you can be assured that it's a franken and not an authentic model.

The Lord Lancaster CC has three diamonds along with plain square markers.  Behind the dial is a Swiss made 17 jewel 637 movement.  I'm not sure how to describe the hands.  There are a cross between a straight baton hand and also tapered like alpha (pointex) hands.

I purchased a Lord Lancaster CC last month and it patiently waited it's turn in the queue on my work bench.  As arrived, it was in decent condition overall.  My only criticism, and it's a minor one, is the seconds register should just be simple cross-hairs so this dial was obviously redone in the last 40 years.

Free from the constraints of the bezel, you can see the dial was refinished fairly well.  The H logo is a little heavy but only a purist would notice.  If the seconds register was a simple cross hair pattern I would be totally satisfied.  There's a slight green patina along the perimeter.  I'll see if I can tone that down a bit without losing the printing.

The 637 is a very thin movement.  If the dial didn't have any diamonds I would have guessed this to be a Thinline model of some sort.

A little tweaking to the freshly serviced movement gets it running strong with a low beat error.  I tend to leave them running a little fast as I have found they settle down eventually.

And here's the finished project all spiffed up and paired with a new strap.  I was able to tone the green patina down a little bit so overall the watch looks very clean.  You can see the diamond's are very subtle… just enough to catch your eye.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

1958 Keane

Although the Hamilton models with Swiss-made movements were the "entry level" models in the Hamilton line up, I think they have some of the coolest dial designs of the 1950's and 60's.  Hamilton's earlier models had a lot of elegance in their own rights, but when it comes to funky dial patterns, the watches in the late 1950's are tough to beat.

Take for example the 1958 Keane.  It was produced for four years.

The Keane comes in a square case, sometimes described as a "television" case and it's not unlike other models from the same time period like the Carson I did earlier this month.  But what really makes the Keane pop is the sunburst dial with radiating grooves that look almost like a scallop shell.    It also reminds me of a square version of the 1958 Sea-Glo.

The case is 10K rolled gold plate with a stainless steel back.  Tucked inside behind the embossed dial is a 17 jewel Hamilton 673 movement made by ETA.

My Keane project watch arrived in good shape overall.  Other than a new crystal and a nicer strap, I rightly assumed that the watch wouldn't need very much to be restored to fine condition.

The bracelet that came on the watch is a vintage Speidel but not original to the Keane.  Speidel bracelets weren't used very often by Hamilton other than on some of the late 1940's watches - so I'll do a little checking to see if I can reuse the bracelet elsewhere.

The back of the case is stainless steel and lifts off with the little tab between the lugs.  Sometimes these RGP cases with stainless steel backs can separate a little too easily and they need some tweaking to make sure they don't accidentally separate - which has been known to happen.

Without the crystal in place, you can see that the dial is actually in very nice shape.  It's a little dusty looking but otherwise looks great.

The 673 is a very common model for manual wind models with Swiss movements that use a sub-second hand (instead of a sweep second hand).

While everything is being cleaned, I'll replace the crystal with a GS replacement specially formed for this model.

Once reassembled, all the movement needed was a little tweaking to the regulator to bring the timing in line.

And here's the finished project on it's pillow shot with a genuine lizard strap and fresh crystal installed.  Doesn't that look way better?  I think the grooved dial really makes this model pop!  The seems to always catch the light, regardless of the viewing angle so it has a pearlescent effect, just like a scallop shell.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

1968 Thinline 6510

You could build an impressive Hamilton collection by just focusing on the Thinline models.  Of course your collection would be primarily 1960's watches.  Only two of the 83 different Thinline models are from before 1960.

One of the later Thinline models is the 1968 Thinline 6510.  It was produced through 1969.

The Thinline models come in all four materials… solid gold, gold filled, stainless steel and rolled gold plate.  The 6510 is an RGP model with a stainless steel back.   A lot of Thinline models say "Thinline" on the dial - but not the 6510.

Behind the dial is a 17 jewel 639 movement.  The 639 is a Swiss-made movement made by Buren.  When the 6510 was introduced Hamilton owned Buren and used quite a few of their movements in "thin" watches like the Thin-o-matics, many of which used Buren's micro-rotor automatic movements.

After about 275 posts to my blog you might suspect that I have a Thinline 6510 project watch - and you'd be right.

As received, it was in "okay" shape.  It would run but the crystal was beat and moisture had gotten into the dial.

A quick inspection of the case revealed a gap on the side that indicates the stainless back will pop off the bezel when I insert my case knife.

With the crystal out of the way the moisture damage is more readily apparent.  This type of dial finish is called a "radial finish".  I've never gotten this type of dial redone but I'm sure it can be refinished if needed.  The good news is the field of the dial is still sound - so a little gentle cleaning might improve it's appearance.  But I'm not optimistic… this isn't dirt, it's compromised lacquer.

The 639 movement is a little dirty but it should clean up well since there's no rust (thank goodness).

The movement "gave me fits" during reassembly and it took me quite a while to get it to run cleanly but I eventually got it.  The 673 has an adjustable hair spring stud location so I was able to fine tune both the beat rate and the beat error.

Well, here's the finished Thinline 6510 on it's pillow shot with a fresh crystal.  The dial is "fair" - it got a little better with gentle cleaning so it doesn't look terrible but it's definitely not perfect (or even really good).  The rest of the watch is very nice though so I may do some research on who can refinish radial dials.  It should be straightforward as long as they have the print for the Hamilton logo and font.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

1961 Accumatic A-650

There are 66 different Accumatic models.  So there must be a lot of variability to them in order to have that many different models.  You can create a lot of variety just by using solid gold, gold filled, stainless steel and rolled gold.  Beyond the case material, the details of the dial can make a big difference too.

The 1961 Accumatic A-650 exemplifies a number of dial details that make it unique.  For example, the dial has a golden band around the perimeter, "pearlized" dots as minute markers, a textured (grooved) field and a combination of markers and numerals.  The model was produced through 1963.

The A-650 comes in a 10K rolled gold case - as all 600-series models.  The back of the case is stainless steel but it's permanently sealed so it's a one piece case with two materials.

Tucked inside is a 17 jewel 689A automatic movement, made by ETA.

I recently picked up an A-650 and it was in need of some TLC.  For starters, it had mismatched hour and minute hands and neither were correct for the model.

The back is engraved to "Charlie" for 10 years of devoted service.  I wonder what Charlie was devoted to?  Today Charlie would get a pen, keychain or maybe a $15 fishing pole.

If you look very closely at the case back you might wonder how you separate the stainless steel from the gold plated bezel.   You might even try to stick a case knife in there somewhere and start prying.  In reality, you can't separate the front from the back - it's a single piece.

In order to get inside, you need to remove the crystal and there are specialized tools for doing so.  One of the more versatile tools is this crystal lifter.

The crystal is held in place by the tool so if you intend to install the crystal again you don't have to do anything other than set it aside until you need it.

The dial looks pretty good but it's also quite dirty.  I'll try to clean it up but this dial looks like it would be very challenging to get refinished so I'll take it easy on the cleaning and hopefully not screw it up.

Once the crystal is out of the way, the trick is to line up the seam of the two-piece stem so you can see the male and female portions at the same time.  That way you can pivot the movement out without stressing the female portion of the stem.

Here's the 689A movement.  If you've followed my blog you know this is a pretty common model in the Accumatic line.

The inside of the case back looks to be copper clad.  As you can see, it's a single piece with no seams.

While everything is being cleaned, I will get out my lume kit and prepare to relume another set of hands.  These luminous kits are surprisingly expensive but you don't use very much and they will do a lot of watches.

I have a spare set of hands that are the correct style and size but they're not in the best of shape - they could stand to be re-gilded but they'll do for now.

While inspecting the cleaned parts, I realized one of the pivots on the escape wheel was missing.  It will need to be replaced before I go any further.

Lucking I have a parts movement so I'll use the escape wheel from it.  You can see below what the wheel above was missing.

Everything is cleaned, dried and reassembled.  In the shot below, the now-running movement is essentially a manual-winding movement because the rotor assembly hasn't been reinstalled.  With the watch running, I can put the movement on the timer.

The movement is running okay but it's a little slow, to the tune of 78 seconds slow per day.  The beat error says 0.0 but that's because the timer hasn't calculated it yet.  I can tell by the distance between the to lines on the screen that it's probably more like 1.5ms.

A little tweaking to the regulator and the hairspring stud location allows me to dial in the beat rate and the beat error.

I was able to clean the dial up a little but almost lost the printing in the process… only a part of the O in Automatic was lost though.  My replacement hands look okay but the hour hand could stand to be regilded for sure.  The crown is an old replacement… it's okay but not perfect.  On the whole though, I think the watch is in much better condition than what I started with, so I'm satisfied with the results.

I'll have to keep my eye out for a better set of hands though.