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.

Monday, June 30, 2014

1960 Accumatic IX (or IX-B)

There are 66 different Accumatic automatic models.  The first 16 were identified with roman numerals and I guess that proved too complicated.  Eventually Hamilton named them with the same nomenclature as the Automatic K-series but with Accumatics they were A-series.

 The last of the roman numeral Accumatics is the Accumatic IX released in 1959.  It was produced for two years and then became the IX-B in 1961 and was produced for two more years.  I suspect the only difference between the IX and the IX-B is the movement inside - but I'm not sure what movement is in which model.

The Accumatic IX comes in a 10K yellow gold-filled case with a stainless steel screw-on back.  The embossed dial has yellow numerals and markers but it also a yellow color too - the catalog doesn't mention that specifically.  The markers had luminous dots and the hands were lumed to match.

I know one of the IX's came with a Hamilton 672 automatic.  This 17 jeweled grade is the same as an ETA 1256.  What's in the other variant, I am not sure.   So if you have this watch with a different movement inside, let me know.

I recently purchased an Accumatic IX project watch and it was listed as running great and didn't need to be wound to wear...  that was partly true.  It did run well but the truth was it couldn't be wound by hand.  Something was wrong with the oscillating weight train - it would wind the watch but if the crown was turned it engaged the rotor (oscillating weight) too.  So one of the gears that transmits the motion of the rotor to the winding wheel had an issue.

Otherwise, the project watch looked like it just needed a good cleaning.

Initially I thought my project watch was a 1960 Automatic K-460 - but when I went to do this post I realized I was mistaken.  Can you spot the difference?

The hands are different - but the hands don't always match the catalog image.  The main difference is the K-460 has a 6 on the dial instead of a marker - otherwise I bet the two watches are very similar in person.

Screw-on backs can sometimes be a pain to open but generally I can break them loose eventually.  This on wasn't too back though.

The 672 movement looks just like the ETA movements you'll see in the automatics in the Hamilton's Illinois line from the earlier 1950's.  If I had to guess, I'd say this is an Accumatic IX but that still leaves the movement in the IX-B in question.

The dial and hands are in decent shape - a little dirty but otherwise they're in nice, original condition.

Everything gets cleaned and oiled before being reassembled.  I happened to have a spare 672 so I used the rotor carrier from it to repair the project watch's movement.  With the watch running on the timer, I can see it's running just fine now - and it winds with the crown too.

A new crystal and fresh teju-lizard strap completes the watch's trip to the spa.  The Accumatic IX is a good sized watch and the yellow dial makes it a unique model too.  I think the brown and the gold look great together.


I got a comment from a visitor with what they thought was an IX-B but it has an H on the dial.  That would most likely make it a 1962 example like this catalog image.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

1951 Scott

My normal project watches are inexpensive acquisitions in need of serious tender loving care.  That's part of what makes this hobby so rewarding... seeing the results of a little "elbow grease" and restoring a wreck back to it's original glory.

Of course, sometimes I get an opportunity to work on a true gem.  For example, a fellow collector friend of mine sent me one of his recent acquisitions... a 1951 Scott.  The 1951 Scott was the second model to bear the name but it's way less common than the original 1935 version.  The latter Scott was produced for only two years.

One of the reasons the 1951 Scott is so rare is it is one of Hamilton's high-end models from the early 1950's.  There were only three other watches that were more expensive - and two of those were platinum.

The Scott comes in a fairly heavy 14K yellow gold case.  It has a two-tone silver butler finished dial with solid 18K gold markers.

Tucked inside is a 19 jewel 14/0 sized 982M movement.  The 982M is a highly finished version of the 982 movement used in 14K gold filled models but the 982M was predominantly for use only in solid gold models.

My friend's watch arrived with a freshly refinished dial and a new alligator strap - so it looks almost new.   One of the reasons he sent it was a problem with the hands... only the hour hand moved when he set the time.

That was pretty easy to diagnose though - since the hands are synchronized to each other, via the minute wheel, the reason the minute hand didn't turn is the cannon pinion isn't seated fully and it's not touching the minute wheel.  So when the time is set the minute wheel just turned the hour hand and left the cannon pinion alone.

The back of the watch is in nice shaped.  I have found that truly new new old stock watches have a slight brushed finish on the case back.  This one has been polished or worn smooth but otherwise looks great.

The earlier 982M movements had a solid gold medallion inset into the train bridge but after WWII the 982M movements were given an engraved circle with an M to stand for "medallion".  The engraved text is filled with orange enamel, instead of black like on the regular 982.  982M serial numbers start with M too - as opposed to J like 982 serial numbers. Personally, I think the earlier versions of the 982M with the gold medallion are more attractive, aesthetically, than the latter version.

There are four or five watchmaker's marks inside the case so this watch has had a few trips to spa over the past 60 years.

Everything is taken apart and separated for cleaning, including the mainspring.  The main spring that was inside the barrel is a white alloy version so I will just clean it and reinstall it with fresh grease.

The reassembled movement now sparkles like new - and so goes onto the timer to see how well it's running.

Initially running a little fast, a slight tweak to the regulator slows the watch down to running 10 seconds fast per day, with good amplitude and an acceptable beat error.

The dial and hands go back on and everything gets tucked back into the freshly-polished case.  This watch now looks and runs just as it did in 1951.  It's a good sized watch too and I'm sure this will be a crown jewel in my friend's Hamilton collection.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

1960 "Sea Something"

There are a lot frankens out there - watches that are an assembly of parts and not official Hamilton models.

One reason for that is Hamilton's movements are so well made that, properly maintained, they will last a lifetime and the first thing to wear out will be the case.   It would be less expensive for a watch owner to re-case their "old" movement in a new case than to purchase a new Hamilton model.  In addition, jewelers could buy old watches and re-case them to look like something new.  Jewelers could even purchase new, less expensive Hamiltons, scrap the cases and then recase the movement and dial in a solid gold case, often with diamonds, for a greater profit.  This happened a LOT with ladies watches and was a practice Hamilton tried very hard to discourage.

Frankens are not of much interest to collectors other than a source for donor movements for real models.

All Hamilton collectors have "earned their stripes" by over-paying for a pig in the poke.

You can quickly tell a franken from an authentic model by looking for a combination of "tells".

The first one is the type of movement inside.  If you see an older 987 movement in a 1950's-looking watch, then you know it's a franken.  The dial on a franken will often say "Hamilton movement" - and is a good indicator that the only original Hamilton part in the watch is the movement.  Lastly, the inside of the case back should say Hamilton Watch Co. - especially if it's after 1940 or so.

I recently picked up a Hamilton project watch that has me stumped but I don't think it's a franken.  There are several known uncatalogued models (like the Oval and the Vancott) and Hamilton's presentation division made uncatalogued watches for companies to issue as service awards.

I thought for sure I would be able to identify my project watch - but no luck so far.  As received, it was pretty beat up and obviously well-used.  The crystal was cracked but otherwise it just looked dirty.   Based on the design and movement inside, I figured it would turn out to be part of the Sea- model line.  So I'm calling this watch a Sea Something, until I can more accurately identify it.

Looking in the catalogs, I can see there are some similar designs but nothing completely frames it.

The first candidate is an Automatic K-419.  The dial is very similar.  The case has some similarities too but the K-419 is gold filled and my project watch is 10K RGP.  I don't know what movement is in the K-419 but if it's like the other K-models it's probably a 661.  That model wouldn't have the same dial feet locations as the ETA movement in my project watch.  However, an ETA automatic like the 672 would use the same dial... so maybe that would be a clue.

The Thin-o-matic T-451 has a similar dial.  But close observation shows that although the catalog looks similar, the dial description is clearly different.

The Sea Guard is a good match too - until you note that the Sea Guard is a stainless steel watch and the indices on the gold chapter ring are pointed  and don't quite match my project watch.

So, all of the above are good clues that my watch is most probably from the late 1950's or early 1960's.  Exactly what model it is remains to be seen.

With the crystal out of the way the appearance of the watch is improved dramatically.  It's funny how better a watch will look with just a new crystal.  This watch is a front-loader so once the crystal is removed the movement will drop out the front.

There's a movement-ring that surrounds the movement and keeps it tightly secured in the case.  The 17 jewel 671 movement is a good clue to the watch's age as it was commonly used in the late 1950's and early 1960's.

The inside of the case back (and the outside too) is clearly marked as a Hamilton case - so that's a good clue that this is a factory-made model.

Everything is disassembled, cleaned and oiled so the now running movement can be placed on the watch timer.

Initially it's running a little fast at about one minute fast per day.

Some slight tweaking to the regulator brings the beat rate right in line.

Once the movement goes back into the case, the last thing to go on is a new crystal.  This watch uses a 30.8mm diameter crystal - this is the largest crystal I've ever used (so far) in a vintage watch.

And here's the finished project with a new crystal and new lizard strap.  It's a nice looking, clean design and runs as well as it looks.  Now all I need is to know what to call it.

If you think you know what it is or if you have the same watch, please let me know.

UPDATE -  Turns out this is one of Hamilton M-series watches and specifically it's a M-79-1 that came out in 1961.

M-series watches were produced from 1961 through 1967.  The first number (79) was it's retail price and the dash number (1) means it was the first model at that price point.  So there's likely a M-79-2 and a M-79-3 in later years.

Monday, June 23, 2014

1941 Coral Martin

Shortly before WWII, rose gold became very fashionable, just as it is today, I understand.  Several watch manufacturers introduced rose gold models and Hamilton was no exception.  There are solid rose gold as well as gold filled wrist watch and pocket watch models starting in 1940 and continuing into 1941.  There are ladies examples too.  The war cut the trend short though, and rose gold (or coral gold, in Hamilton parlance) was not reintroduced after the war.

One of the 1941-only models was the Coral Martin.

The Martin came in yellow gold filled as well and continued to be produced after the war but the coral gold filled version was only available in 1941.

The Coral Martin came in a 10K gold filled case with rhodium-plated 18K gold numerals with matching hands.  The salmon-colored dial also differentiates the Coral Martin from the yellow version.

Tucked inside the case is 6/0 sized 17 jewel 987A movement.  This movement, along with it's sweep-second sibling the 987S, would be dedicated to military watches throughout the early 1940's.

I've wanted to snag a Coral Martin for some time now and the trick is to find one without wear to the tops of the rounded lugs or the case back - this challenge applies to the yellow version too.  There are plenty of yellow Martins out there but it's tough to find a nice rose-gold version without it being heavily worn or very pricey.

I actually bought a project watch a month or so ago - I took a risk on some really lousy photos and it turned out to be a bit of a franken, I'm afraid.  I think the case had been poorly re-plated to look rose gold and the dial was salmon colored but had yellow numerals!  I was kind of angry at first, but the price wasn't too bad so I just chalked it up to a spare 987A movement and a learning experience.

It happens...

Anyway, I recently saw a much better example and as luck would have it I was able to snag it for a good price too.   It arrived to be in good shape overall.  All it needed was a good cleaning.

The crystal is a replacement and not quite right.  Although the outer shape is correct, it's curved profile is a little off and it looks a little silly.  I happened to have a correct replacement crystal saved just for this purpose... I knew I'd find a Coral Martin someday.

The 987A has a slight haze about it - a good indicator that a cleaning is in order.  The serial number dates to 1941 - just as it should.

The back of the dial is unengraved and gives every indication that it's original.  It has some age spots but isn't bad enough to warrant being redone, in my opinion, but that's a personal preference.

Here's the correct crystal for a Martin - note it has a lower profile on all four sides.

Everything is taken apart, cleaned and dried before being reassembled.  I also put a fresh mainspring in the barrel - which I tend to do with every watch from this period.

The now reassembled watch is placed on the timer to see how it's running...

8 seconds slow per day right out of the chute - that's not too bad at all.  The amplitude and beat error are looking good too.

And here's the finished product on it's pillow shot.  I think the new crystal looks loads better than the old one.  The old one may have fit but the curved contour made the dial beneath it look wacky.  You can see that there is very little case wear on this example - the lugs look excellent.  This turned out to be a really nice project, I think.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

1965 Sea Beach II

I have often wondered what was behind Hamilton's affinity for nautical-themed model.  There are over 50 "Sea-somethings" alone but also a variety of others like the Skipjack, Surf and Nautilus.  In fact, there are 25 Electric Nautilus models too.  Hamilton even appeared to have some models named after American aircraft carriers from WWII - there's the Auto Date Escort, Auto Date Fletcher, Auto Enterprise, Auto Saratoga, Auto Yorktown!  Very odd, no?

You could assemble an impressive collection by just focusing on nautical themed models.  One of the watches you'd need to find is the 1965 Sea Beach II.  I was made for three years.

The Sea Beach II comes in a one-piece stainless steel case that opens through the crystal.  The dial only came in white with matching silver-colored markers and luminous dauphine hands.

Behind the dial you will find a Hamilton 686 movement.  This 17 jewel grade was made by the Swiss ébauche maker, ETA.  An ébauche is a partially completed movement.  As such, ébauche-makers sold partial movements to other companies to complete as they saw fit, with their logos, etc.  So you will find most of Hamilton's Swiss-made movements are in other brands watches too - which is helpful to know if you're looking for a special part.

My recent Sea Beach II acquisition arrived in running condition - but I couldn't wind it.  Turning the crown moved the hands, regardless of whether the stem was pulled out or pushed in.  So something was obvious out of whack in the keyless works.  It could also stand a new crystal, I think.

With the crystal out of the way, you can see the dial and hands are in fantastic condition.  If you look closely, you can see "T SWISS T" printed at the base of the dial.  This means that the watch is Swiss-made and uses a small amount of tritium for the luminous material on the hands and dial.

To remove the dial and movement, you need to align the two-piece stem so that the joint is clearly visible.

Then, the movement can be swung out of the case and separated once it arches about 45 degrees.

The 686 is fairly clean looking and it does run so all I need to do before overhauling it is figure out why the watch doesn't go into winding mode.

With the dial out of the way, I expected to see the "set bridge", aka, "set yoke" would be broken.  My tweezers are pointing to it and it's intact.  I can see though, that the set lever just to the right of the set bridge looks to be a little loose.  The set lever is what holds the stem in place and when the stem is pulled out it moves the various parts that engage the clutch wheel - and put the watch in setting position.  Anyway, all I had to do to fix the winding issue is tighten the set lever screw and draw the set lever down to the stem.

The newly cleaned movement looks a little brighter than before, but not too much different.  But I know there's fresh oil inside - and that's important for mechanical watches.  Watches will run without oil but they will wear themselves out.  That's why it's important to service mechanical watches every 4-5 years.

The watch started out running just a smidge slow but a little tweaking to the regulator brought it right in line.

A new crystal and a black lizard strap completes the restoration process.  This watch looks almost good as new now and it runs as well as it looks.