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, October 24, 2014

1958 Randolph

If there's one complaint that's common among vintage watch collectors, it is that vintage watches tend to be on the small size.  This is especially true relative to the size of today's watches.  In fact, it seems like many ladies watches today are larger than most vintage Hamiltons.  The 1940's watches were especially small, it seems.

However, watches started to get bigger in the mid 1950's and, like Goldilocks and the three bears, I think watches from this period are "just right".  The 1953 Rodney seems to be a great example - as it was made for 11 years.

Right up there in size is the 1958 Randolph.  It measures about 34mm across, excluding the crown.  It was produced for only three years.

The Randolph presents itself as especially large, thanks to the narrow bezel and large crystal opening.

The model came in solid 14K yellow gold with a butler finished sterling silver dial and solid 14K markers.

Tucked behind the dial is an 8/0 size, shock jewel 735 movement.  The 735 is Hamilton's top-of-the-line sweep second movement, although you might argue that distinction belongs to it's 1960's replacement, the 736.  They're pretty much the same, other than the balance wheel.

I recently scored a Randolph that arrived in excellent condition.  I can tell it's been well cared for, or at least recently restored, as the dial had already been refinished.

The bezel is so narrow, you might be tempted to think the watch opens through the crystal, but it's actually a two-piece case.  The case back is also 14K and this model's case back is unengraved.

With the bezel and crystal out of the way, you can see the dial is in fine shape.  However the Hamilton printing isn't quite correct for the model and I'm not sure of the pearlized track should be silver or gold.  I'm thinking gold, but it looks nice nonetheless.

The 735 is a shock-jeweled upgrade over the 748, that it replaced in 1955.  It's an 18 jewel movement with rather long axles (arbors) on the train wheels.  This is a very tricky movement to reassemble and, although I don't have any trouble nowadays, I'm always a little hesitant when I take one of these apart.  I have a lot of memories of broken pivots and beads of sweat on my forehead from trying to put 748 and 735's back together.

You can see there are some numbers scratched into the back of the dial - a sure sign it has been redone.

If you take apart enough of these movements you develop a keen memory of every part and where they all go.  But the first few times you take one apart, this sort of perspective presents a rather daunting challenge.  Everything is now cleaned and ready to be reassembled with fresh Moebius oil.

Well, there's no complaining about the performance of this watch, good beat rate, beat amplitude and a low beat error.

The dial and hands go on last and then the reassembled movement goes back into the freshly polished case.  A new alligator strap is the perfect addition to complete this Randolph's restoration.  I'll have to think about the silver pearlized track.  I've added gold enamel to dials like this in the past but filling each hole with a tiny dollop of gold is a very tedious task.  It looks pretty good as-is, I think.

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