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, October 31, 2015

1953 Preston

1953 was a pivotal year... or at least the start of a brief pivotal period.   For example, it was the first year of Hamilton's new 12/0 sized movements.. the 752, 753 and 754 which replaced the 14/0 size 980, 982 and 982M, respectively.  It was also the first year of the Hamilton Illinois branded watches that ushered in Swiss-made manual wind movements as well as the first automatic and calendar models.

Pivotal periods are not without churn and one of the models that only lasted a single year was the 1953 Preston.

The Preston is unique in that it's one of a few models that featured a beveled crystal.  I'm not sure what the purpose was other than perhaps to add a bit of flair of angularity or maybe a bit of bling.  Of course, the 14K solid gold case with two-tone butler finished dial with applied gold numerals and markers had quite a bit of bling on it's own.

Tucked inside the Preston's case is a 12/0 sized 19 jewel 754 movement  This grade was used only in solid gold models and it's virtually identical the 19 jewel 753 grade.  It would be replaced in 1955 by the 22 jewel 770 movement.

I was fortunate enough to receive a Preston in need of some love from a friend of mine.  It's nice to have friends with deeper pockets than I have, as I get to live vicariously through them.  It really didn't need much work other than a fresh overhaul.  The beveled crystal makes it look like there are two sets of markers at 3 and 9.

The beveled crystal stands proud above the case and prevents the case from incidental wear and tear.  Although this watch is in great shape and I doubt it got much exposure to wear and tear at all.

The dial is a refinish and you have to look very closely to tell.  You can see there's a notch on the side by the 3 marker and there's a slight gap between the inner black line and the white border between the 4 and 5 markers.

The movement has a dull haze to it, so I suspect it's been a while since this movement has been cleaned and oiled.

Other than a little rust on the set lever, the dial-side of the movement looks great.

Everything looks bright and shiny after a thorough cleaning.  The mainsprings in Hamilton after 1953 are predominantly white alloy "lifetime" springs.  They can break, but it's rare.

The 754 goes back together just like a 770 does and the hardest part of reassembling it is to get the pivots of all four wheels to line up in the train bridge.  It takes patience but it's way easier than reassembling a 748 / 735 movement.  Now I can give it a few winds and put the balance back on.

The now-running watch goes onto the timer to see how it's performing.  Looks great, I'll leave it like this for now as it should settle down after a while.

The only tricky part about this overhaul was the minute hand.  It was loose.  Tight enough to stay on but loose enough that it would move if you gently banged the watch.  That would get the hands out of sync, so they would align at 12:00, etc.  It had to be tightened.

Tightening a hand is a basic watchmaking skill.  It's easy to screw up, like everything else, but if you have the proper tools it's not too difficult.  The "best way" to do it is with a round punch in a staking set.

With the hand centered in the staking anvil and the punch lined up with the hole in the hand, a very gentle whack on the other end will close the hole ever-so-slightly.

The freshly serviced Preston looks as good as it did when it arrived but now it's ready for wrist time  and the minute hand won't fall off while wearing it.

Pretty fancy looking watch, don't you think?

Saturday, October 24, 2015

1902 925 Pocket Watch

There's something about a big old pocket watch.   It could be that the loud ticking is soothing in a deep psychological way.  Perhaps it's because they are reminiscent of steam powered trains and model T cars.  Or maybe it's just the fact that they're still alive after a century of time.

Regardless, I really like old pocket watches even though they tend to be a bit ubiquitous and all look alike after awhile.  Believe it or not, Hamilton has a LOT of different grades to collect, although some are extremely hard to come by, especially after 100 years.

I recently acquired a nice 18 size pocket watch because I was the only one who bid on it.  It had been a while since I did a pocket watch and figured I could show it on the blog.  It's also the oldest watch I've done to date, having been made in 1902.  That's only 9 years after Hamilton first started producing watches.

The watch is a model 925 with 17 jewels.  The 925 was an entry level 18 size model with 17 jewels.  Even though it was an entry level model, it was still a superior movement compared to other makers with 15 jewel or even 7 jewel grades.

The 925 was paired with the 924.  Even numbered grades are "open faced" movements and odd numbered grades are "hunting cased" movements.  A hunting case is a clam-shell case where the dial has a metal cover - I would assume to protect the glass while out and about.  An open faced case just has glass covering the dial so it's less protected.

The big difference between open faced and hunting cased movements is open faced movements have the seconds register opposite the crown while hunting cased movements have the seconds register 90 degrees from the crown.  It's for that reason that hunting cased movements are sometimes called "side winders".

The 925 movement was first introduced in 1899 and it was produced until about 1912.  Back then you could pick the movement you wanted and the jeweler would case it in whatever case you selected.

The watch that I purchased had the 925 in an open faced case.  I suspect it wasn't originally purchased like this but it doesn't really matter to me.  If I had to guess, I bet the original case was damaged and it was less expensive to recase it in a generic open faced case than in another gold filled hunting case.

When it comes to pocket watches it's really all about the movement, then the dial, and then the case.


The case back has a pattern with an area intended for the owners initials.  It's funny that this watch has a gold crown while the rest of the case is silver colored.

The movement runs, which is good, but you can tell from the dull brass color of the jewel settings that it's been a long time since this watch was serviced.  The jewel chatons should be bright and shiny.

I'm not sure if this dial is original or not.  It's obviously old.  It's not an enamel (porcelain) dial, so there's no cracking or crazing to worry about.  You can tell by the lever sticking out at the 5 that this 925 is a lever-set grade.  So when you pull the lever out (like shown) the hands will move when you turn the crown.  When you slide the lever back the watch is in the winding position.

The back of the dial is unmarked and shows it's three dial feet.

Without the dial in place you can see the lever for the setting mechanism.  The crown turns the stem that is installed in the case.  The stem turns the winding pinion, and the winding pinion turns a wheel that will either turn the ratchet wheel (on the left) or the gold-colored minute wheel (on the right) - depending on the position of the set lever.

The one thing I don't like about full plate movements like the 925 is the balance is exposed on the back of the movement.  It's not precariously exposed when the cover is installed but when it's not covered it's very prone to getting damaged.  So it's the first thing I will take off.

One thing I like about these movements is everything is LARGE, at least compared with wrist watches.  The hairspring stud is held in place by a cover secured with two screws.  With one screw removed, I can rotate the cover to expose the blue hairspring stud.  That will allow me to separate the balance wheel from the balance cock supporting it.

A full plate movement can be tricky to put back together because a single plate (bridge) covers all of the wheels, including the pallet fork, at one time.  In the shot below the plate has been removed.  So all of the parts can now come off.

The 925 has a "motor barrel".  It's held on both ends by bushings and the silver wheel is the ratchet wheel.  When the ratchet wheel is turned by winding the watch, the arbor inside is turned.  The teeth on the gold-colored barrel then supply power to the gears.

With the back freed of parts, I can flip the movement over and take all of the parts off the front too.

Everything is now cleaned and dried so all I just have to do next is put it back together with fresh lubricants.

Here's a shot of the back plate without the barrel bridge.  There are two tricky parts to assembling the movement... one is to get all the wheels to line up in their respective jewels and the other is to get the pallet fork to pass through the opening in the recessed area where the balance goes.

Getting all the parts to line up requires poking and prodding from this direction.  When all the parts are aligned, the plate will drop right into place.

An 18 size movement like this barely fits into my movement holder.

All the parts are reinstalled on the front.  There's a thin blue spring on the right that needs to go under the bridge covering the wheels - that's the only tricky part to putting the dial-side back together.

Back in May of 2013 I did a post on a 1904 927 pocket watch.  It's very similar to the 925, the next model up in the series, and it also came in a hunter case.  However, the dial on the 927 is more of an open-faced orientation and is awkward to read in a pendant-up position.  So I'm going to use it on my 925 and use the 925's dial on my 927.

Now you can see why a hunter cased dial looks better in a hunter case when the pendant is off to the side.

I need to reinstall the movement into the case in order to wind the watch.  Once power is restored to the mainspring, I can install the balance and it should start running.

There - it's all back together and running.  Now to see what the timer thinks of it.

Well, it's running a little slow but the amplitude is great.  The beat error... not so much.  7.3ms is a bit too high.  Fixing that will require removing the balance and then guessing which direction to adjust the hairspring.  The goal is to better align the balance impulse jewel with the pallet fork and reduce the beat error.

How's that for a good guess?  The beat error is down to 1.7ms - that's more than acceptable in my book.  Now I just need to tweak the regulator so the speed comes up a little.

There, it's not going to get much better than that.

Here you can see the finished project.  It looks much better with a dial with an open faced orientation.  The gold highlights on the dial go nicely with the gold crown too.

And here's the movement side.  Notice how much brighter the jewel settings are now.

Not a bad looking watch for being 113 years old.  Don't you think?

Sunday, October 18, 2015

1960 Kinematic II

You may have seen me post about how many different automatics there are.  Between the K-series, Automatics and Thin-o-matics there are over 200 models.  However, the series with the fewest models is the Astramatic and the Kinematic lines.  Each has only two.

I haven't seen an Astramatic I or II yet - they are solid 18K gold and 14K gold, respectively.

I have seen a Kinematic I and have shown that on the blog.  The second Kinematic is the Kinematic II from 1960.  It was only made for a single year.  If it looks familiar to you that's probably because the dial is identical in appearance to the 1961 Accumatic A-650.

If you compare the Kinematic II to a Kinematic I  (below) you may notice a family resemblance, mostly in the lugs.  I think it's interesting that the Kinematic I was introduced in 1957 and was called the "I" even though the Kinematic II didn't come out for four more years.  I wonder how far in advance Hamilton planned?  Maybe not far enough, as the A-650 may have replaced the Kinematic II due to the potentially delicate lugs on the Kinematic II.

 photo kinematic03_zps66c8df22.jpg

The Kinematic II came in a 10K RGP case with a stainless steel back.  Unlike the Kinematic I, the dial on the Kinematic II is really complex, with a golden chapter ring, textured dial, embossed numerals and markers and even a pearled track.

Tucked inside the Kinematic II is a 17 jewel 672 movement based on the ETA 1256 automatic.

I've seen only a couple of Kinematic IIs for sale over the years so I don' think they're very common.  I recently landed one though and I was happy to be able to get it because it has an excellent dial.  It even came with it's original box.

The stainless steel back screws on and off.  This one is a little off-center as I don't think the seller but it back on properly.  Hopefully it's not cross-threaded and damaged.

The 672 is an early version of ETA's movements and would soon be replaced my the 689 series in the Accumatic line.  You find this grade was also offered in the earliest automatics that Hamilton offered in the Illinois brand.

Without the crystal in the way, you can see that the dial is very complicated.  I doubt that it could be properly refinished to look like new - but fortunately I don't need to find out.

This watch has a broken set bridge.  That's the little lever that holds the set lever in either the winding position or the setting position.  I'll need to replace that.

Everything is cleaned and dried.  I stole a set lever from a 671 movement - that's the manual wind version of the 672.  The 671 is based on ETA 1080 grade - so any 1080 or 1256 could donate a set bridge.

The watch is back to running condition - so let's see what the timer has to say.

Uh oh.  There's something inside making noise.  I'll reclean the hairspring and hopefully take care of it that way.

Ah, that's much better.

A new crystal will show of the excellent dial much better than the old crystal that the watch came with.

And here's the finished project.  The bracelet that it came with isn't original to the watch but it fits it nicely and looks pretty good, I think.  The Kinematic II is a nice looking watch and looks very "Summery" like a nice sunny day.