I think my favorite era of Hamilton watches is the 1930s. Maybe it's the styling or maybe it's the pre-WWII innocence coupled with the Great Depression resilience of the American people, but there's something about the 1930's that is very appealing to me. Watches were often bigger in the 1930's too, thanks to the 6/0 sized 987 series.
1935 ushered in the 14/0 sized watches too - and such a narrow movement allowed Hamilton to make long and narrow watches. Eventually watches evolved into smaller designs and some of the 1940's models are downright tiny.
Anyway, one of the less common 14/0 models is the 1936 Taylor. It was only produced for a single year.
The Taylor came in a 14 gold filled case in yellow only. However, there are two different dial choices for the Taylor shown in the 1936 catalog. Since the Taylor is gold filled, it received the 17 jewel 980 movement as the 19-jewel 982 was used solely for solid gold models in the 1930's.
I recently received a Taylor and it had all sorts of interesting things going on with it. The main issue is it wasn't running but right off the bat you can see that it's an applied gold numeral dial. It certainly seems to fit the bezel opening correctly and the seconds register is the correct shape too. Is it a replacement or a non-catalogued option? I suspect it shares the AGN dial with the 1937 Talbot, especially since both have an inlaid black enamel dial. That's just an educated guess though.
The watch was also missing it's crystal so I'm lucky the hands and dial were still present and in good shape. The lugs that hold the strap are moveable and appear to be solid, although there is a lot of play to them.
The 980 movement is correct for the watch and dates to 1936, just as it should. It has one big problem though - the balance staff is broken as the balance wobbles easily.
Sure enough, the lower balance pivot is missing. Hopefully the balance jewels are still in good shape.
The mainspring is set... that's usually the case in 9 out of 10 watches from this era.
A new white alloy Dynavar mainspring will add new life to this watch - assuming the balance can be fixed.
When it comes to a broken balance staff, you have two options... replace the balance staff or swap balances from another movement. Swapping balances from another movement means sacrificing a movement, so replacing the staff is a better choice - or at least worth a shot. I'll leave swapping balances as "plan B".
You need very specialized tools to change a balance staff and a nice staking set is one of them.
I'll need a new balance staff to replace the old one.
Many parts for one movement are reused in other movements and the 980's balance staff is also used in the ladies 911 grade, which is a 21/0 size, if I recall correctly.
The first order of business with changing a balance staff is to strip the balance of it's parts. So the hairspring is the first thing off and then the roller table can be removed with the staking set and a specialized punch and stake.
This roller remover holds the roller table and then a punch pushes the staff down and out of the roller. So balance drops down and the roller stays on top.
Now you can see that one side of the old staff still has a pivot while the other side is gone.
I'll position the old staff over the smallest hole that will accommodate the hub of the staff.
A special balance staff remover tool goes into the staking tool and a special punch will push the staff out of the arm of the balance wheel after a few light taps.
There... now I can get ready to install the new staff.
I can still get a little use out of the old staff though, I'll use it to select flat and rounded punches with holes that are just big enough to go over the staff.
I put the new staff in the smallest hole in the anvil that will support the staff.
Next, the balance wheel goes onto the little section of the staff that fills the hole in arm.
A few good whacks with the rounded punch will form a rivet on the staff and then some equally firm whacks with the flat punch will spread the rivet over the arm and tighten the wheel to the staff.
Now I can flip the balance over and reinstall the roller table, taking great care to align the impulse jewel with the marks I scratched into the wheel - so the roller is in the same place it was before I took it off.
The last thing to go on is the first thing I took off - the hairspring. The hairspring looks to be in good shape but I don't like the angle of the hairspring stud... it looks a little off.
All of the other parts have been cleaned and are ready to be reassembled.
The moment of truth... the watch is now running so it's off to the timer.
Well that's not too bad... pretty good actually. A little extra noise here and there so I'll reclean the hairspring.
Hey now, that even better, more amploitude!
What the?!!! Flipping the movement over reveals it's not running very well at all when it's in the dial up position. The weight of the hairspring makes it hit the balance cock (I think) and makes the watch run faster. It could be the angle of the stud has the hairspring out of plane... hairsprings require a bit of black magic sometimes.
Fussing with hairsprings can literally take hours to get right. A tweak here makes another problem there and I have a low success rate with them. On a rare movement that might be what it takes to get right but on a 980 I don't think the juice is worth the squeeze... it's time for Plan B.
Ah... a replacement balance from a donor 982M is running nicely. The beat error is under 3ms and within my personal specs.
Flopping the movement to 12 up and the dial up shows little to no change in the performance. This movement is ready for wrist time again.
A new glass crystal will complete the restoration and protect the dial and hands from damage.
A new genuine croc strap adds a final finishing touch to this Taylor. The case shows a hint of wear through to the high points but I think it looks fantastic considering what I started with.
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