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, January 31, 2015

1964 M 59-2

1964 was an odd year for Hamilton.  The company had it's usual catalog of models but they also had an addendum of men's and ladies models that were not a part of the standard line of models.  These special models had very basic names... ladies watches were F-models and and men's models were M-models. I'm not exactly sure what the purpose of the models were but I suspect they were for sale through a special channel of some sort.   There are models in solid gold, gold filled, rolled gold plate and stainless steel, automatics and manual winders... a little bit of everything.

There were 12 M-models and one of them was the M 59-2 in 1964.  As I understand it, M-series watches were available from 1961 through 1967 but I've only seen a listing for them in 1964.

The M 59-2 came in a two-piece case with a 10K RGP bezel and a stainless steel back.  The dial is embossed with yellow numerals and markers.  Tucked inside is a 17 jewel Swiss made Hamilton 686 movement.

I recently picked up an M 59-2 and it arrived in nice shape.  The bracelet on it isn't original and it looks like it's period correct.  In fact it looks a lot like the bracelet for the Electric Nautilus 400, except the ends would need to be different.

Cases with stainless backs can sometimes be one-piece designs and permanently bonded to the bezel.  You'll sometimes see gouge marks were people have tried to open them in the past.

Close observation of the sides of the watch reveals a small gap - so this is a two-piece design and will snap apart.

The original dial is in excellent shape - which is good to see because it has a radial finish and is a challenge to get redone to look original.

I like the 686 movement.  It's a clean, simple design and it has an adjustable balance cock so you can really fine tune the performance.  I think it's interesting that Hamilton never produced an adjustable balance design like this.  A lot of people turn up their noses at the Swiss grades but when you really get down to it, the Swiss grades introduced a lot of Hamilton's innovations... automatic movements, calendar movements, shock jewels, etc.

The 686 is easy to take apart and fairly easy to put back together.  The train bridge holds all four wheels - so that can be the trickiest part, getting all four pivots to line up at the same time.

The movement is back to running - the motion looks good so it's off to the timer to find out for sure.

Well, something inside is making some extra noise so I'll have to remove the balance and re-clean the hairspring.  It doesn't take much to make noise like this.

Well, the noise is gone now so it's time to adjust the beat rate and beat error.

How's that for performance?  3 seconds fast per day and a beat error of close to zero.  I wish the US-made grades were this easy to adjust.

I decided to reinstall the bracelet that came with the watch... it looks good and since it doesn't go with any other Hamilton model I might as well put it to use.  I was even able to polish the crystal that was on the watch so all this project really needed was a trip to the spa to run as nice as it looks.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

1953 Sherman

Just when you thought you might be starting to understand Hamilton watches, they throw you a curve ball.

I'm sure you've picked up on Hamilton's use of a "-B" on models where the movement was changed.  A classic example is the Boulton and Boulton-B.  The former has a 14/0 sized 982 movement and the latter has the 982's replacement, the 12/0s sized 753.

Well, apparently it wasn't always so cut and dry.  Let me show you what I mean...

In 1950 Hamilton introduced the Sherwood, it was the second time the name was used.  The first Sherwood was made in 1935.  Anyway, the 1950 Sherwood was produced for three years.

The Sherwood came in a 14K yellow gold filled case with a 19 jewel 982 movement.

In 1952 the Sherwood catalog made mention of the matching ladies version, the Sheryl.

The Sheryll looks like a miniature version of the Sherwood.  Unlike the Sherwood, the Sheryll also came in a white gold filled version.

Well, along comes 1953 and with it the introduction of the 12/0 sized movements.  A lot of "-B" models arrived on the scene as a result.   So what does Hamilton do?  They introduce the Sherman... a 10K gold filled watch that looks exactly like the 14K gold filled Sherwood.  Tucked inside is the 19 jewel 753 movement.  So I guess if the movement AND the case material changed, then the "-B" doesn't apply and it's a different model altogether.

With the arrival of the Sherman, Sheryl becomes a two-timer and is paired with the Sherwood's younger brother.  Now both models are offered in white gold filled too.  The marriage wasn't meant to last though, as the Sherman was made for only a single year.

I happened upon a Sherman in need of love.  I thought it looked familiar but at the time I didn't realize it looks identical to the Sherwood.  As received, the crystal was all beat up so it was clear, pardon the pun, that a new crystal was needed.

Without the bezel and crystal in place, it doesn't look much better.  I'll try to clean up the dial but this one looks a little too far gone.

The 753 was a precursor to the 770 that would be introduced in 1955 and replace all of the 12/0 grades.  The 753 shares a lot of parts with the 770 but one of the main differences is that balance does have shock jewels.

While I'm at the Sherman, I'm going to also restore it's mate, the Sheryll.  I happened upon this shortly after getting the Sherman.  The seller's photos where terrible and it turned out the watch is a white version, and not yellow as I had perceived from the seller's photos.  Oh well, vive la difference!

Like the Sherman, this Sheryl's crystal was beat up too.  Without it in place you can see the dial is in fair shape, a little cleaning will make it brighter.  It's tiny by comparison and smaller than a Dime.

The grade inside a Sheryll is the 17 jewel 21/0 sized 750.  Other than the fact that it's tiny, it's basically the same thing as the men's models.

You know what they say about a man with big hands and big feet?  He needs big gloves and big shoes.  Tiny movements need a tiny movement holder.

While all the parts take their turns in the ultrasonic, I'll prep two new glass crystals to go into their respective cases.

I got my dial refinished... that was "fast"!  I had this project in mind since last November and finally got around to it.

The Sherman is the first to be ready for reassembly.

It's running vigorously, that's a good sign.  Now it's off to the timer.

There are some stray dots below the bottom line.  Something inside is making some noise.  The time keeping is good but the noise is bothersome so I'll try to get rid of it.

I wish it was as easy as just taking another photo - but after much trial and error, I had to remove the balance, replace the regulator, and adjust the beat error in order to get it to run cleanly.  There's nothing wrong with this watch's timekeeping now.

With one down, it's off to the Sheryll.  If you're a hobbyist like me, when you think you know what you're doing you should try to tackle one of these ladies movements.  You will be reminded of Michelangelo's quote from when he was in his 80's... "Ancora Imparo" I am still learning.  The tininess of the parts presents an all new challenge.

To give you an idea of the size of the these parts, check out the gear train below compared to my index finger tip.  Getting the pivots of all four wheels to line up in their respective jewels of the train bridge can drive you to tears.

Success - the watch is running nicely and it's placed on top of the timer.  This movement is so small that you have to be extremely careful not to drop it, or accidentally break the balance wheel.

A little tweaking to the regulator brings the timing in line.  The extra dots are me poking the regulator.  The beat error is a little high but there is no way I'm going to fuss with the hairspring on this balance.

Here are the two watches, reassembled and tucked safely within their cases.  You can see by the time difference of the dials that it took me about 25 minutes to assemble the Sheryll since I put the hands on at 12:00.

I'm not a big fan of the 10mm expansion bracelet on the Sheryll so I'll look for a new strap for it.  In the meantime, I think these two watches turned out very nicely.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

1941 Wesley

There are number of rectangular tank-style models in 1940's lineup.  Usually the 1940's watches are a little small by today's standards.  However, a few are actually a decent size... still small but not "too small".

A good example of a nice-sized tank-style watch is the 1941 Wesley.  It must have been a popular watch, as it was made through 1952.

There are probably a dozen or more rectangular watches in the 1941 line up.

Few 1941 models were also available in 1949.

As you can see in the catalog snips, the Wesley came in a 14K solid yellow gold case.

Under the dial is a 19 jewel 982 Medallion movement.  The 982M was introduced in 1940 and replaced the high grade 982 movement in solid gold models.  The 982 and 982M are virtually identical other than the additional damascening and gold (orangish) highlights on the movement back.  The 982 was used after 1940 in 14K gold filled models.

One of my friends asked me to take a look at his new Wesley.  He had picked it up in a local shop and it briefly ran for him but then cut out.

As received, it was a very attractive looking watch... not the usual likes of my typical project watches.

The dial appears to be original and darned near new.  A lot of people use the term "mint" with watches, which is funny since watches aren't made in a mint.  But this sterling silver dial with solid gold numerals and markers sure looks "factory fresh".

The earlier 982M actually have a gold medallion inset into the train bridge.  The last few years of 982M's lost the medallion and just got a inset enamel circle.  When I first opened the watch, the regulator was set to "super slow", meaning it was pushed to the right, almost over the center wheel.  I pushed it back to the center, just to take the strain off the poor hairspring.

With the dial out of the way, one thing is readily apparent.  There is a ton of excess oil inside.  Look at all the oil that has pooled on the top of the main plate.  I suspect it's from the mainspring barrel.

With the ratchet wheel and the smaller winding wheel out of the way, you can see there's a lot of excess oil on the barrel bridge too.  If any of this oil got onto the hairspring it would make the watch run very fast - thus the probable reason for someone pushing the regulator to super-slow.

Opening up the mainspring barrel, I was a little surprised to see an older blue mainspring.  You'd think if someone serviced this watch and put so much oil inside, they might have replaced the mainspring... but not in this case.

These old blue steel springs tend to "set" after a while and lose a lot of their energy.  The watch will run fine, but it won't run as long.  With a fresh mainspring, a well maintained 982M should run 40 hours or so on a full wind.

I like to use genuine Hamilton Dynavar white alloy mainsprings whenever possible.

Here you can see the difference between an old "set" spring and new mainspring.  A new mainspring will actually coil in the opposite direction.

The best way to install a new mainspring is with a mainspring winder.  There are many different styles of winders but I like to use a K&D variable diameter model.  It allows me to use the same winder for different sized barrels.

Everything is cleaned and dried before getting reassembled with fresh oil - and a LOT less of it than was in there when I started.

The now cleaned movement is running nicely.  It's off to the timer from here to see how well it's running.

Watch timers listen to the ticking and compare what it hears to what it expects to hear.  In this case, the timer is picking up extra noise inside the watch.  I suspect there is a tiny fleck of dust on the hairspring - just enough to make a sound but not enough to really bother the balance motion.

I cleaned the hairspring again and carefully inspected it.  Now the watch is running exactly as it should.  Everything looks great.  I'll leave it running a little fast for now.

My friend asked me to put a new crown on the watch.  I'll need to replace the stem too - as you can see the current one is rusted.  However, the crown and the stem are tailored to each other so that you have the perfect combined length and it will fit correctly against the watch case

I didn't have to do too much to the outside of the watch, to be honest.  I gave it a gentle polish and called it a day.  This Wesley dates to 1948 based on the movement serial number.  It now runs as great as it looks.

Just for comparison's sake, check out the relative large size of a Wesley compared to it's 1941 sibling, the Gilbert.  The Wesley is considerably larger.