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.

Friday, May 9, 2014

"A Tale of Two Winslows"

"It was the best of models, it was the worst of models…."

I'm not too proud to admit when I am wrong and one of the things that makes collecting Hamiltons fun and interesting is to occasionally get thrown a curve ball.  It doesn't happen too often, thanks to the amount of information that's available on the web.  I bet 15 years ago it was a LOT harder.

I think my favorite genre of Hamilton watches is the 1930's.  I must be an "old soul", as they say.  A lot happened with Hamilton during the years prior to WWII… new advances to materials and newly introduced movements enabled Hamilton to firmly establish itself as the pre-eminent American watch company.

I recently snagged a 1930's watch that is very uncommon - so uncommon it was set up as a ladies watch… which is sort of understandable once you see what it is.

It obviously needed some love and was missing it's crown but the price was right and you very rarely see a Winslow in the wild.  It was only produced for two years, 1935 and 1936 and it originally came on a cord strap.  The cord strap isn't very masculine so it wasn't a very popular model.

I received the watch and noticed it came in a three-piece case that was marked 10kt gold filled and didn't say Hamilton… un oh!  Then I looked more closely and the lugs on my project watch have a groove in the middle while the Winslow lugs are sort of T-shaped and flat in the middle.   Did I buy a franken?  Oh well - at least the 987E movement inside was working.

Then, while strolling through the catalogs I noticed the 1935 Ellsworth - that's an even more rare watch - only made one year.  Look familiar?  I thought so too - that's my project watch, only part of the lugs are missing.  They must have gotten damaged and have been lost to time.

Well, as fate would have it, I saw a beat up Winslow for sale and it was so ugly that no one else wanted it.   I bought it and thought I'd try my luck again.  As you can see, it's had a hard life thus far.

Now you can see side by side the differences between a Winslow (left) and an Ellsworth.

The back of my watch is engraved but it's so dirty and scratched up that I'll have to clean it in order to read it more clearly.

Unlike the Elsworth, the Winslow comes in a two-piece case.  It's very similar to another mid-1930's model, the 1935 Prescott.  In fact, the Winslow and Prescott share the same applied gold marker dial.  The Winslow also has and applied gold numeral dial (like the Ellsworth) and a two-tone gilt dial.

My watch has the original marker dial - you can tell it's original by the bright metal area in the seconds register.

The serial number on the 987F dates this watch to 1935.

The inside of this case back is marked Hamilton and 14K gold filled, just as it should be.

987's are notorious for having set mainsprings.  This one is about the size of a Quarter.  Anytime you purchase a project watch with a 987 you should expect to have install a new mainspring too.

While everything is in the ultrasonic, cleaning away, I will turn my attention to the case and taking off the ladies cord bracelet.  It's way too short for me.

Hopefully I'll be able to reuse the hardware when I install a new cord.  Now I can clean the case and replace the crystal.

Leather used for bolo ties is a great solution for replacing the bracelet on a watch like this.  This is 3mm braided cord in dark brown.

Turns out the crystal is the same one I used on the Piping Rock I recently restored.

Everything is cleaned and ready to be reassembled.  The dial cleaned up fairly well, considering what I started with.  It's a little worn in the center field area though.  I think I'll used the AGN dial from the Ellsworth instead.

The hardest part of this project so far is getting the 3mm cord through the 2.9mm hole in the bezel.

The newly serviced movement is running fine… I slowed it down a little from where it started out.  But the amplitude is good and the beat error is acceptable.

Everything goes back together and here's the almost finished watch.  I think it turned out really well!

Now that the back has been polished, I can see the engraving better.  It says Robert B Lee.

The buckle end on the ladies bracelet is just too small for this heavier cord so now I need to figure out how to secure it to my wrist.  I left the cord long enough I can actually tie it but I'd rather have a more practical solution.

If anyone has a good idea for how to secure the other ends of the bracelet, please let me know.


A trip to the local "bead shop" resulted in some guidance on how to secure the clasp-end of the straps.  It involves some brass wire, two decorative grommets, and a lobster claw clasp.  There are other clasp styles but I wouldn't want to risk an 80 year old Hamilton dropping to the ground because the "pretty clasp" separated.

The grommets cover the cord ends and have a hole to pass trough the wire.

First, I measure the watch to set the length of the watch strap - 7" is my target, a standard length for bracelets.

Next, the two cord ends are bound together by wrapping them with the wire.

Once the ends are wrapped, I'll trim the leather flush and leave the remained of the wire pointing outward.

Both ends are now neatly wrapped.

The leather and wire will be further bound using special glue.  Apparently it's not something you want to sniff.  I can do about 10,000 more bracelets with this tube, I think.

Once the glue dried a good bit, the decorative grommet goes on top and dresses up the ends.

Now a loop is formed in both ends and the excess is wrapped around the loop.

One end gets a ring...

… and the other end get's the clasp.

And here's the finished product on my rather svelte wrist.  Unlike most wrist shots, I don't clutter mine up with excess arm hair - so it's always a pleasing shot… ha ha!

and here's the business-end of the clasp.  It took me a little while to get it on, to be honest, but I don't wear bracelets so I'm not really practiced at it either.


My lobster claw solution worked but it was really a bugger to fasten.  You need to use one hand to put the strap on your arm, a second hand to hold the strap steady and a third hand to open the lobster claw.  Unfortunately, I only have two hands, so I continued my search to find a better solution.

Ultimately I found a more appropriate clasp.  In order to use the clasp I had to switch to a slightly thinner cord.  Since this watch is rather feminine, the thinner cord isn't really a concern.

I think it looks just as nice and now it's much easier to fasten with just on hand.


  1. Robert. B. Lee, that's funny! (Say it 3x fast. . .)

  2. I have a 1935 Winslow front does not have numbers it also reads hamilton has not been abused cord and pretty good sizes clasp is engraved 12-25-35 must have been Christmas says very clearly gold filled however says 12 and catalogs claim lugs r solid gold? Patton 209055usa