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, July 27, 2014

1964 Sea Scout III

In what will probably be a never ending quest to locate all of the "sea something" models in Hamilton's line up - I can mark another one off the list.  A 1964 Sea Scout III.

The Sea Scout III was introduced in 1964 and produced through 1967.  So there should be plenty of them out there - but this is the first one I've seen.

Like many other Sea- watches, the Sea Scout III comes in a single piece stainless steel case with a white radial-finished dial and a silver ring containing the minute track.  The hands are luminous and there are luminous dots on the odd numbered hour markers.

Tucked inside the Sea Scout III is a Hamilton 686 movement... a very typical Swiss-made movement for this period of Hamilton production.

My recent Sea Scout III project watch purchase arrived in typical "diamond in the rough" fashion.  It was well worn but stainless steel can take a beating.  The crystal was scratched and yellowed so that will need to be replaced for sure.

With the crystal out of the way, you can see the dial is in excellent condition.  Some of the lume has broken out of the minute hand so I will replace it with fresh lume as part of the overhaul.

The movement comes right out the front, thanks to the two-piece stem.  This one is in great shape so it should clean up nicely.

Everything comes apart, is cleaned, dried and then reassembled with proper oils and greases.  The now running movement goes onto the timer to see how it's doing.

Initially it was running only slightly slow (7 seconds per day) and the beat error of 1ms is fine too.  On most other grades I would call it a day at this point.  However, the 686 has a tunable hair spring stud so I should be able to dial in the beat error even better.

A little fine tweaking and I got the movement to run very nicely with a perfectly aligned balance so the beat error is zero.  That's about as good as it can get.

The dial and relumed hands go back on the movement and the assembly goes back into the case.  A new crystal will seal out any dust and a new strap completes the restoration.  This Sea Scout III is ready for 50 more years of faithful service.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

1941 Barry

There are a number of fairly common Hamilton models that I've never successfully snagged as a project watch.  I'm not really sure why that is - maybe they're not in good shape or maybe I just get outbid.  Regardless, there are a few that I'm always on the prowl for.

I can scratch one off the list now though... a 1941 Barry.  It was introduced just before WWII and was reintroduced after the war in 1946 only.

The Barry looks very similar to the 1948 Perry or the 1950 Cedric and could easily be mistaken as one or the other (or vice versa).  

The Barry has a 14K gold filled case with a sterling silver dial outfitted with 18K solid gold numerals.   Since the case is 14K gold filled, you'd be right to expect to see a 19 jewel 982 movement inside.

As I mentioned above, I've been looking for a Barry for a long time - mainly because every time I see one I wonder to myself, "is that a Barry or a Cedric?".

As luck would have it, I finally scored a Barry last month and got around to giving it "the works".

As received, it was in decent enough shape.  It had a thick replacement acrylic crystal that gave the dial a sort of gold fish bowl effect.  A new crystal would be a quick improvement.

The dial looks okay but it's an obvious refinish due to the irregular printing.  It doesn't look bad - the watch is rather small, after all, so it's hard to see that printing with the naked eye.  There's no need to get it redone again.

I forgot to mention that the watch is not running.  You never really know why a watch doesn't run until you get a chance to check it out up close.  Sometimes it's just dirty. Actually, gummed up oil is probably the cause most of the time. However, sometimes there's a broken part inside.

I noticed the escape wheel in this watch is on an angle - that would be a good reason for not running.  It should be horizontal.  It could be the escape wheel has a broken pivot.

The 982 movement is a higher grade than the 17 jewel 980 movement even though they are the same size.  The difference in jewels is there are two extra cap jewels on the 982 covering the escape wheel.  You can see one of them below.  It's the gold-colored figure 8 setting on the train bridge.

The serial number on this movement dates this watch to a 1941 model.

The pivots on the escape wheel were fine so the odd angle was due to the wheel being out of place on the arbor (axle).  I'll use a couple of punches on my staking set to put it back where it belongs.

While everything is being cleaned, I will install a new old stock glass crystal.  The Barry crystal is flat on two sides and curved on the other two.  So even though it's square, it's easy to tell how it's supposed to go into the bezel.

Everything is cleaned and dried and ready to be reassembled.

Oh snap!  The watch wouldn't run when I reinstalled the balance.  Very close observation of the balance assembly revealed the impulse jewel is missing.  Without the impulse jewel, there's nothing for the balance to engage the rest of the movement.  The impulse jewel is held in place with shellac.  Shellac can be dissolved if a watch is exposed to alcohol - and the jewel will fall out.  I wouldn't be surprised if that was the case here - seeing as how the watch was missing a couple of screws too.   Perhaps an inexperienced person fiddled with this watch in the past.

Regardless of the cause - I need to replace the roller table or this balance is of no use.

Working on the balance like this is somewhat akin to open heart surgery ... if you screw it up the results are fatal.  The first "incision" is to remove the hair spring.  To do so, I'll insert the tip of an oiler into the gap in the collet (in the center of the hairspring) and gently lift the hairspring off the balance staff.

Now you can see the hairspring off to the side of the balance.   I had to remove the hairspring so I can put the balance wheel in the roller table remover.

To get the roller table off the balance staff I need to install it, roller table up, in the removal tool that is mounted in my staking set.  The bottom of the table is held in place and I will push the staff down and out with a punch.

This is perfect opportunity to break one of the pivots on the balance staff so great care is taken to make sure everything is perfectly aligned before I apply any pressure at all.  A couple of gentle taps on the punch will push the staff down while the roller table is held in place by the tool.

Voila!  You can see the balance wheel and it's staff are now separated from the roller table.

Now I have to do it again with a balance assembly with a bad staff.  I'll use it as donor - since the roller table is fine.  You can see the impulse jewel is the little pink cylinder on the right.  I'll take it off and use it on the other one.

I'll use a couple of punches to push the new roller table onto my balance staff.  But first, I want to make sure it's lined up exactly with how the old roller table was installed - so I won't disrupt the poise of the balance.

With the roller table aligned how I want it, I use a punch to push the table down.  A punch on the bottom supports the other end of the balance so only the roller table is in play.

Success... I still have two balance staff pivots.

Now I have to put the hairspring back on.  It has to be lined up, as best I can, so that the impulse pin lines up with the pallet fork and the balance is "in beat".   Once I orient the hairspring so the hairspring stud is about 90 degrees to the impulse jewel, a couple of taps to the punch will seat the collet.

All that is left is to reinstall the balance in the balance cock and put it back on the movement.  With luck it will run.

Good news and bad news... the watch does indeed run.  The bad news is it runs way too fast!  12 minutes fast per day is way too much for the regulator to adjust for.  Something is probably wrong with the hairspring.

I took the hairspring off and used the hairspring from the donor balance. Hairsprings are matched to the mass of the balance they are mounted too - so they're not interchangeable.

The length of the hair spring as well as the mass of the balance will impact the beat rate of a balance. Once a balance is "poised" or perfectly balanced, the hairspring length is what makes a watch run faster or slower.

With a "new" hairspring the same balance now runs slow but with good amplitude.  The beat error is a little high though so I'll have to pull the balance (again) and see if I can move the hairspring collet just enough to get the impulse jewel better lined up.

Now you know why working on balances is such tricky business!

Well, adjusting the hairspring collet and then the regulator gets the watch to run just as it should.  The beat rate is great, the amplitude is great and the beat error is great.

Of course, in order to speed the watch up from -372 seconds per day to 0, I had to push the regulator all the way to "fast" and then some.   The watch runs great now though - so regardless of the position of the regulator - it performs as it should.

With the movement back in operating order, the dial and hands go back on and everything goes back into the freshly polished case with a new glass crystal.   The watch now looks as good as it runs... don't you think?

Friday, July 25, 2014

1964 Sebold

1964 was an odd year for Hamilton watches.  There are quite a few "one year wonders" that were only available in 1964.  All of the M-series of watches were only available in 1964; such as the M-59-3, the M-69-2, and the M-89-3.

One of the other 1964 models only available or that year is the 1964 Sebold.

The Sebold comes in a one-piece stainless steel case with with a brushed dial and silver figures that are inset into the dial.  The dial has luminous hands with dots at the 12, 3, 6 and 9.

Tucked inside the case is Hamilton's 17 jewel 688 movement - this grade, made by ETA, is very similar to the ETA automatics used in the early 1960's, except the 688 is a manual winding movement.

I recently picked up a Sebold project watch and it came with it's original bracelet and box!  The seller listed it as "non-running" but it was running when I opened the box.  Maybe they didn't know they had to wind it?

The bracelet looked hardly worn but based on the grime around the circumference of the back, the watch definitely shows signs of being worn.  It was definitely well taken care of though.

With the crystal out of the way, a little grime is visible on the bezel too.  The movement will lift out the back now and pivot on the two-piece stem, as long as I align the male / female joint correctly.

The 688 movement looks pristine - there's not a spec of dust or anything on it.   But that doesn't mean there is still oil in the jewels.  Eventually the oil inside will evaporate and a watch will run without oil but it will be wearing itself out.  So overhauling a clean-looking watch is still a good idea if you don't know when it was last serviced.  There are no markings at all in the case back - so I think I'm the first person in 50 years to see the inside of this watch!

This particular style of movement is very interesting.  Unlike most traditional movements, the Center Wheel of this movement isn't in the center at all.  In fact, it's in the lower left of the photo below and you can see the golden wheel at 7:00.

Since the Center Wheel is usually what passes through the main plate (aka pillar plate), it's what the cannon pinion is mounted onto.  The cannon pinion drives the minute hand.

Anyway, this watch has a "Roskopf" cannon pinion.  You can see in the center of the movement the silver-colored cannon pinion has a larger gold-colored wheel attached to the bottom of it.  The gold wheel is driven by the third wheel and it will slip on the cannon pinion when the stem is turned to set the time - thus setting the time won't jam the gears.  You can also see my tweezers are pointed to the setting wheel.  When you pull out the crown, the stem will turn the setting wheel, the setting wheel turns the minute wheel and the minute wheel will turn both the cannon pinion and the hour wheel (not shown).

Everything is cleaned and readied for re-installation.

A few turns to the mainspring provides enough power to get the balance spinning once it's reinstalled.    The watch will start running if the balance is installed in the right spot - assuming there's not an issue in the gear train.  It's always a relief to see it start going as it means I'm in the home stretch.

A little tweaking to the regulator brings the timing right in line.

Since I have the original box to go with the watch, I can dispense with my usual "pillow shot" and showcase what is a very original watch, bracelet and box included!  It's hard to believe this watch is now 50 years old, that's for sure.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

1968 Thinline 4009

When Hamilton ceased US production in 1969 much of the Hamilton model line was discontinued.  Not all models ended though... some continued on for a few more years.  Hamilton had acquired Buren in the early 1960's and used Buren's movements in their "Thin" watches like the Thin-o-Matics and Thinline series.  When Hamilton's US production stopped, manufacturing shifted to the Buren plant in Switzerland.

Anyway - one of the models that was introduced in 1968 and produced into the 1970's was the Thinline 4009.  It was produced until 1971.

The Thinline 4009 is one of the few gold filled models with Swiss manual winding movements.  It seems most of the time you'll find them in rolled gold case.

The dial on the 4009 is a brushed silver finish with a gold chapter ring and golden markers with black insets.  The golden baton-style hands also have a black stripe to match.

Tucked inside is a Hamilton 639 movement - this 17 jewel was made by Buren and is the same as a caliber 280.

I recently picked up a Thinline 4009 that was rather dirty but I hoped would clean up well.  It came on a Speidel bracelet that was not original to the watch, so I removed it as it was starting to wear into the lugs a little.

The 10K gold filled case opens through the crystal and from this perspective you can see why this watch is part of the Thinline series... it's very skinny.

The 639 is a nice movement, in my opinion.  First of all, all the axles are short so it's very easy to line up all the pivots.  Second, the balance cock has a moveable hairspring stud - so tuning in the beat error is a breeze.  The only thing I don't appreciate with the 639 is the hairspring is very close to the regulator so you have to be extremely careful not to touch the hairspring if you attempt to move the regulator.

The dial-side of the pillar plate is hazy and that's a sure sign this watch hasn't had a trip to the spa lately.

The one-piece case has a movement ring (removed) and it reminds me of the "Sea Something" that I restored last month.  The bottom is a little flatter though.  The inside of this case back is very dirty too, for some reason.

Everything gets cleaned and dried.  The dial had a couple of old fingerprints but I was able to remove them - thank goodness.

The reassembled movement goes onto the timer and initially it started off running a little slow (36 seconds per day with an acceptable beat error of 1.2ms.  The amplitude of 208 degrees is a little low but that's because I didn't wind it fully since this watch has a split stem.

A little tweaking to the hairspring stud and the regulator gets the watch to even on pretty much dead on with an even better beat error.  I could probably get it even closer but I don't want to risk hitting the hairspring.

And here's the finished watch with a new crystal and a nice, thin lizard strap.  I had to take the photo on an angle as the markers and hands are so reflective they look black from straight on.  This is a highly reflective watch - which is great, as everyone wants a dress watch with a little bling every now and again.