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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?


  1. Dan - where do you source crystals for these?

  2. Hello, I was wondering how to remove the watch dial? I recently got a replacement dial for my barry watch and want to make sure I remove it correctly.

    1. Remove the movement from the case back. Carefully remove the hour and minute hands. With a 0.5mm screwdriver, loosen the two dial foot screws on the side of the main plate. Carefully pry the dial up and by doing so lift the second hand off with it. Don’t get fingerprints on the dial and don’t touch the balance wheel. Installation is the opposite.