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, August 25, 2014

1938 Gilman

I think it's very interesting how some vintage Hamilton watches make their way to distant lands.  It's not surprising, of course, but it does make you wonder how they got there.

For example, I recently purchased a watch that came all the way home from England.  It is a 1938 Gilman - and I wonder how long it was expatriated?  Did it go over there for WWII?  Did a UK collector buy it from someone in the US in 2008?  Who knows?

Anyway - the Gilman was introduced in 1938 and produced through 1946, excluding a slight hiatus while production was dedicated to the war effort.

The Gilman sort of reminds me of a solid gold version of the gold filled 1938 Dickens.  The Dickens is a bit longer and more curved to fit the wrist though.

The Gilman came in a 14K solid gold case with only an applied gold numeral dial.  So it's a pretty straightforward model.  Tucked inside you will find a 19 jewel 982 movement in the 1938 and 1939 model.  In 1940 and later, the Gilman received the 19 jewel 982M medallion movement.

My Gilman project watch caught my eye mainly because it was in serious need of some love.  Fortunately the interest from other collectors must have ceased at the melt price of the gold - as I was able to land it for a very reasonable cost, just above scrap.

As received, it was really beat up and filthy.  This watch had definitely seen a lot of use but it was still running.

The corner of the bezel has a hole worn clear through to the inside.  Hopefully my local jeweler will be able to fill that for me.

The back of the watch is so dirty that I really can't read the engraving on the back very easily.  It has a nice presentation though - and that caught my interest too.  This watch was obviously very special to the recipient.

With the crystal out of the way, you can see that the original dial shows it's age.  Some folks like this original patina'd look.  Me, I'd rather see a nicely refinished dial once an original looks like this.  Dials like this can be redone to look like new and getting dials like this refinished was often a part of the general overhaul service, back in the day.

The 982 movement is in decent enough shape to run but can still stand to be cleaned and oiled.  The serial number dates to 1938, just as you'd expect, based on the engraving on the cace back.

The movement is completely disassembled, cleaned and then set out to dry before being put back together with fresh lubricants.

A little tweaking to the regulator brings the beat rate right in line.  I tend to leave watches running just a smidge fast.  The beat error of 3.3 is on the high end of acceptable.  I could probably reduce it but that's tempting fate with old balances like this.

A new crystal and a vintage Gemex strap almost complete the restoration.  Now that the watch is running great, I'll send the dial out to be refinished and I'll take the bezel to my local jeweler to fill in the wear hole.   I'll post an update when I get it all back together.

With all the dirt and funk removed, you can now read the engraving.  This was a very nice keepsake for Mr. Drinkwater from his friends... where ever he may be now.

A little googling of James D. S. Drinkwater revealed a couple of patents for construction equipment on behalf of Link Belt Corporation.  Maybe he received this watch for his 1938 Trough Washer Patent.

UPDATE Sept 12, 2014

Well, I got the case repaired and the dial refinished.  I think it turned out great.  If you look closely you case see where the jeweler filled the hole but it's way better and sealed off from anything getting inside the case.  The best part is that I was able to save this interesting watch from being melted down for the gold!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

1964 Sea Ruler

1964 was a banner year for Hamilton, it seems.  There were a number of new models introduced into the line up.  One of them was the 1964 Sea Ruler - it would continue to be produced though 1969.

 Like a lot of the Hamilton's from this period, the Sea Ruler came in a 10K rolled gold plate case.  The one-piece case opens through the faceted crystal to provide access to the Swiss-made Hamilton 686 movement tucked safely within.

I recently scored a project Sea Ruler, complete with it's original box and bracelet.  It arrived in typical fashion - rather grungy, but operable.

Aside from a layer of funk, the case is in good shape overall and should clean up well.

With the crystal out of the way, the dial is very nice.  There are a couple of minor scratches on the dial from a past watchmaker removing the hands - but other than that the dial looks new.

The 686 is an ETA-based movement and it's still bright and shiny.  However, based on the outside of the watch, I bet it's been a long time since this watch has visited the spa and had a thorough cleaning.

Everything is cleaned and readied for re-installation.

It's always a bit of relief when I drop the movement back into place and the watch starts running.  It's rare that it doesn't start running - but that's part of the thrill of restoring these fine timepieces.  Seeing the watch kick back to life is very rewarding.

The watch is running slightly fast but otherwise looks good.  I can easily slow it down with just a tiny move of the regulator.  This watch also allows for super easy beat error adjustment.

A little careful tweaking slowly brings the timing right in line and I was even able to reduce the beat error.  Nothing shabby about this watch's performance now.

Everything goes back into the case and the crystal is reinstalled after being gently polished to remove a few scratches.  The Sea Ruler only came originally on a bracelet so I'm happy to reinstall it's original bracelet, now that it's been thoroughly cleaned.

This watch turned out really well, I think.  It's too bad about the minor scratches on the dial.  At least I didn't do it.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

1956 Stormking IV Military

My last post was a Stormking III, so I told you a lot about the model line.  Some of the Stormking models are super rare.  One of them is the military version of the Stormking IV.  It's called the Stormking IV Military because it has a 24-hour dial.  It was produced from 1956 through 1959.

Like the regular Stormking IV, the Military comes in a 10K gold filled case with a stainless steel back.  Tucked inside you will find an 18 jewel 735 movement.  The 735 is a shock-jeweled upgrade to the 748 movement was discontinued in 1955.

The sterling silver dial of the Stormking IV Military is much more complicated than the 12-hour version because there are 24 solid 14K gold hour markers.  It takes 24 hours for the hour hand to make it around the dial so 12 noon looks like 6:00 on a regular dial.  That makes glancing at this watch and telling the time a little tricky, until you get used to it.

There's a circle of pearled dots inside the hour markers with luminous dots at the 2, 4, 8, 10, 14, 16, 20 and 22 hour positions.  The luminous dauphine hands glow in the dark too.

This is a very uncommon watch and I was fortunate enough to have a friend send me his.   As received, it came on a bracelet that looks like the sort of style that could be original to another model but it's not original to a Stormking IV or the Military version.  The crystal was beat up and if you look closely, there's no second hand.

The back screws off to reveal the movement, tucked safely inside a movement ring.

The dial has some spots but looks to be original.

A close look at the second hand bit shows that it's still there - so that's not the reason for the missing second hand.  It wasn't inside the watch so it was removed for some unknown reason.

The back of the dial is clear of any markings, so that's a good sign that this is an original dial too.

Here's a shot of the 24-hour setup on the left compared with a 12-hour setup on the right.  The diameter of the 24-hour hour wheel is larger than the regular wheel.  It has more teeth, as well.  The minute wheel is also different - it has fewer teeth to engage the hour wheel and it's a slightly smaller diameter on the pinion side of the minute wheel.

If I zoom in a little closer, you can see the differences between the two hour and minute wheel combinations.  Just those two parts are what make this Military version unique.

Everything gets cleaned and readied for reassembly.

It's running really well right out of the shoot.  I'll slow it down a little more but I tend to leave watches running just a little fast as I think they slow slightly over time.

A new crystal and a fine lizard strap make a dramatic improvement to the watch's appearance.  Fresh lume on the hands and dial doesn't hurt either.  I don't know what exact second hand the watch should have - not that I would have it anyway.  I did happen to have a spare Rodney second hand though so I installed that instead.

The Stormking IV Military is a very cool watch and a great conversation piece.  I like it... too bad I have to give it back.

Friday, August 15, 2014

1955 Stormking III

When I first started collecting Hamiltons I was drawn to the CLD line.  I'm not sure why... perhaps it was because there were a finite number of CLD models so it seemed achievable.  Over a couple of years I acquired all of the more common models... the Nordon, Langdon, Brandon, Croydon, etc. and even quite a few with the less common dial options... like a black Brandon.  However, eventually I was forced to capitulate - as the remaining models were either solid gold, extremely rare, or both!

It wasn't long after that I was drawn to the Stormking line of watches.  Again - there are quite a few models to collect.  In fact, there are 12 different Stormkings, ranging from Stormking I to Stormking XI (with two IV variants).  Sounds pretty do-able, right?


Well, not if money isn't an issue, I suppose.  You see, Stormking I is solid 18K gold and several others are solid gold too.   They're all nice looking watches though so even getting a couple is a nice objective for any Hamilton collector.  The Stormking IV and V are probably the most easily found, especially the former.

By sheer luck, I recently stumbled upon a Stormking III and jumped at the chance to get it.  The Stormking III was introduced in 1955 and made for four years.

All of the first five Stormkings have a very similar case design.  The II and III are 14K gold.  The III has a stainless steel back though.  The IV is gold filled and the V is stainless steel.

The Stormking III came with a two-tone "BMW-style" sterling silver dial with solid gold markers, numerals and luminous dots.  It has a lot going on with respect to dial features.

Under the dial is an American-made 8/0 size 18 jewel 748 movement or a 735 movement, depending upon if it's an early example or later example.  The 735 replaced the 748 in 1955.

My Stormking III project watch arrived in classic project watch condition... pretty dirty.  The crystal had a small crack but otherwise it looked like it would clean up fine.  The bracelet it arrived with looked like something that could have been period correct - but it's a Speidel bracelet and that manufacturer was rarely used by Hamilton.  It's certainly not original to a Stormking III - as that came only on a strap.

The back of the watch is stainless steel and it screws into the 14K bezel.

There's no problem identifying this model, assuming you can get the back off.

The serial number on the 748 movement dates the movement to 1954 - so I suspect this is an early example of a Stormking III.  It's held in place by a gasketed movement ring and once I remove the stem the whole assembly can be drawn out of the bezel.

The dial is original and in great shape.  There's a little toning in the center from the radium on the hands but not enough to be a distraction.  I'll remove the radium in the ultrasonic cleaner and return it to the earth from which it came.

See, nothing on the back of the dial to indicate that it's been refinished.  This would be a tough dial to get redone - it's possible but there are a lot of minor details that would be hard to replicate.

Everything is cleaned and ready to be reassembled.  These 8/0 size sweep second movements can be a real challenge to get back together.  I don't have too much difficulty now days but back when I first started this hobby, this particular movement often drove me to tears... it can be that frustrating.

The reassembled movement goes onto the timer...

... and a little tweaking gets it right in line.  There's nothing to complain about this watch's performance.  It doesn't get much better than this.

A new crystal, strap and fresh lume on the hands and dial brings this watch back to showroom condition.  This Stormking III turned out fantastic!  Now to find all the other versions...

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

1932 Whitney

There are some 1930's models that are pretty hard to come by - at least in really good shape.  One of them is the 1932 Whitney.  It was produced through 1934.

The Whitney came in either a 14K yellow or white gold filled case.  Depending upon the year, buyers could select from either a luminous dial or an applied gold numeral dial - although the latter was called a Raised Gold Figure (RGF) dial.

The Whitney is notorious for wear through on the bezel and case due to the prominent features of the unique stepped-case design.

Behind the dial is a 6/0 size 17 jewel 987-F movement.  The 987F is identical to the 987 movement, excepted the jewel settings are held in place with Friction, instead of screws.  Otherwise all of the other parts are the same.

I recently has a friend send me his "new" Whitney.  It wasn't running and he needed some help.  It was in great shape, otherwise.

A close up of the movement revealed that it was bright and shiny.  I can normally tell a serviced movement by the brilliance of the gold-colored jewel settings (chatons).  They seem to be a good litmus test for cleanliness.  These chatons look great.

When I looked at the front of the watch, I noticed the second hand was up against the dial... so much so that the watch had stopped.  I lifted the second hand up a little and off the watch went running.  In fact, it was running so well that I don't think I could get it any better.

The inside of the case back appears to say GS May-13 so maybe it was serviced last year?  Or maybe it was May 17 this year?

The best part of the watch though is the pillow shot.  My friend has a knack for buying "handyman specials" and spending a lot of time and effort (not to mention money) on getting them to look and run well.  This just proves that even a blind hog finds an apple every now and again!  Ha ha!

This Whitney is awesome - I wish it was mine but, alas, it has to go back to it's rightful owner.