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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.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

1955 Clark

One of the more popular watches from the 1950's is the 1955 Clark.  This is probably do to it's rather extreme shape.

The most obvious element of the 1955 Clark is the sharply pointed lugs.   Paired with it's correct bracelet, you can see how a lot of thought went into what style of bracelet complemented each unique Hamilton model.

When I look at the Clark, I think it looks somewhat diabolical.  In fact, it reminds me of the sort of watch to wear on boss's day to give yourself a chuckle.


The 1955 Clark is the second model to bear the name and was produced for three years.  The first Clark was issued in 1936... almost 20 years earlier.  The 1955 Clark was  initially introduced with a the 12/0 sized 19 jewel 753 movement but later that year probably received the soon-to-be-introdcued 22 jewel 770 movement.  So if you see a Clark with a 770, it's most likely a 1956 or 57 model.

The 770 was a dramatic improvement to the Hamilton line.  The US-made movement was marketed to have 5 key features... 22 jewel, fully adjusted, shock resistant jewels (for the balance staff), anti-magnetic and a lifetime-rated Dynavar white alloy mainspring.


I recently picked up a nice Clark project watch from another collector.  I could a really good deal on it, so I consider it to be an early Christmas present.  As received, the only real issue with it was the crystal had some small chips along the edge and in a corner.


The 10K yellow gold filled case is in very nice condition although the inside of the case back is missing a lot of the gold.  It's not a plated case but I guess the gold content is less on the inside of the case back than the outside, which would make sense.


The dial has already been refinished.  It looks great.  The only obvious tell from the from front is the tiny notch by the 3 (you can barely see it in the photo).


The back of the dial has some numbers scratched in - that the best way to spot a refinished dial.  Refinished dials are not a big deal for Hamilton watches, as long as they are done with the correct printing and pattern.  The value of other high end European brands is heavily penalized when the dial is redone - even if done well.  But for Hamiltons, a nicely redone dial can often be preferable to a so-so original dial.  It's a bit of a judgement call, really.


The 753 looks a lot like a 770, it's just missing the cap jewels that you'd find on the fourth wheel and third wheel of a 770.


Everything is disassembled, cleaned and readied for reassembly.


The reassembled movement goes onto the timer.  It's running about 3 minutes fast per day with good amplitude and a beat error on the high side but still acceptable (in my book).  If it was easy to correct I would do so, but it would require several attempts to get it much better and each attempt is risky.


A minor tweak to the regulator is all that is needed to bring the beat rate right in line.  You can see how the two lines on the timer make their way toward horizontal.


With the movement cleaned and oiled, all I need to do now is get a new crystal.  The strap that came with the watch was new and looks great.


5 comments:

  1. Hi Dan,

    I love your blog and really admire all the Hamilton watches, but also Hamilton as a company. There is a fabulous video on youtube "what makes a fine watch fine", which highlights everything the company was doing and it is truly mind-blowing. I wish Hamilton still existed (the swatch version doesn't count). I have a fair few vintage watches now and they are ALL US-made or US-Swiss hybrids (Wittnauer; also I'm not sure but Wyler); but the rest are purely US (e.g. Elgin, Hamilton). What I wanted to ask was: I have my heart set on a 770-movement Hamilton. If I bought a 753/754-movement watch, is it simply a drop-in, if I were to buy a 770 movement? Would I have to replace the dial and get spacers, etc? How easy is it to do that?

    My preference is to keep it all original, however, so I probably will wait to see if a Blair, Morton, Stafford or Turner show up somewhere!

    Thanks for your time.

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    1. The 752, 753 and 754 are all 12/0 sized movements and the exact same size as the 770. They also have the same dial feet locations so they are 100% interchangeable. That said, the 770 was made for 15 years or so vs the earlier grades (made for three years). The likelihood of finding a 770 watch is much greater than a 752, 753 or 754.

      That said, the 12/0 grades have a long and short cannon pinion / hour wheel depending on if the dial is domed or flat. So if you needed a long cannon pinion and your 770 had a short one, you could probably just use the long one from the 753 (example) you're replacing.

      Of course, why replace a fine movement with another fine movement? If the 753 is working, it's probably best to keep it as original as possible.

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    2. Hi Dan,

      thanks for the info. I would love to be able to do what you do - restore these lovely old watches. You are right about keeping the movements with the watch. I didn't think I'd manage to get a vintage Hamilton for myself, as they seem to command a hefty premium, but recently I have gotten two - a Sherwood (982) and a Franklin B (with 770 cal) with an original box. I even have two boxes now - the long thin one and now the small high one. Even their packaging was incredible!

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  2. Have you ever seen the distinct chatham or the Lloyd? Very nice models from this decade.

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    Replies
    1. I'm familiar with them but I haven't personally owned one yet.

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