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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.

Monday, May 25, 2015

1964 Thinline 2008

You have to like long weekends... I normally have enough time to do a couple of watches a weekend but on a holiday weekend like today, I can sometimes squeeze in a third.  It takes a couple of hours to completely overhaul a watch like you see me do on this blog - and that's if all goes well.  Sometimes it can take several hours if there are serious issues.

Today is Memorial Day so I started off the day by going to church to remember the true reason for this holiday.  Then I puttered around the driveway, washed the car, etc. and took the family to the pool with rest of my town (it seemed).  We came back after an hour or so and that left me with just enough "shop time" to get to another project watch before dinner.

Today's addition is a 1965 Thinline 2008.  It's a model that was introduced in the 1964 and made for two years but I know it's a 1965 model because it has a presentation from Christmas 1965.


The Thinline line was introduced when acquired the Swiss maker, Buren.  The movements used in the Thinline models are super-thin, thus their name.  The Thinline 2008 comes in a solid 14K yellow gold case.

Tucked inside the Thinline 2008 is a 17 jewel Hamilton 687A movement.

My project watch arrived in classes form... dirty and in serious need of some TLC.  The watch is ticking but it's not running particularly well.  The crystal is crazed around the perimeter so just a new crystal will be a big difference.


The engraving on the back is fairly worn but once I polish the case a little it should stand out a little better.


I removed the crystal thinking this was going to be a front-loader and open through the crystal.  When I saw the dial didn't budge I had to look very closely to see that the bezel actually comes off


The 687A is familiar looking and looks like some the A. Schild movements from the late 1950's and 1960's.  However, it's much thinner... surprisingly so, in fact.


With the dial removed, I can see some moisture got under the dial and started to corrode the main plate.  The cleaning solution should hopefully clear most of that up.


Everything is cleaned and dried.  The parts are very shiny now, as demonstrated by the reflective center wheel.


Although the 687A has a four-wheel train bridge, it's very easy to assemble because the axles are so short.  There's not a lot of space for things to get misaligned.  One challenge though is to identify the 3rd wheel from the 4th wheel since they are very similar and the 4th wheel doesn't have a long pivot since there is no second hand on this model.  All the wheel mesh together so using the smaller pinions as a guide tells you which wheel goes where.


The watch is reassembled and appears to be running okay but only the timer will tell for sure.


Wow... that's really fast.  The regulator can often accommodate a few minutes of adjustment but 500+ seconds is a lot.


I can see by the position of the regulator that there is plenty of room to move the regulator and effectively lengthen the hairspring, thus slowing the beat rate.


Well, with the regulator pushed all the way towards "slow" the beat rate is still a bit fast.


When I put the watch on it's side, the beat rate slows considerably.  That tells me something is going on with the balance pivots.  One of them may be bent or otherwise compromised.


Fortunately I have a parts movement so I replaced the balance assembly and I was immediately pleased with the new results.  It runs the same in all positions - which is the way it's supposed to perform.


Now that the movement is squared away, I'll prep a new crystal for installation.  Since this watch is such a low profile, I'll use a PK low dome crystal in 27.9mm.


Now that crystal has been replaced you can see the interesting patina on the dial.  I suspect the coloration is from the moisture that got inside the watch some time long ago.  I was unable to remove it using a little gentle cleaning so I decided to leave it be.  Other than the patina, the watch looks almost new with defect-free crystal and a vintage genuine croc strap.



Sunday, May 24, 2015

1960's Mystery Automatic

2015 is starting to look like the year of mystery watches.  Most mystery watches are from the 1960's when there was a lot going on.  Models were made for the European market, the Awards Division made unique watches for sale as service anniversaries and the M-series of watches was produced from 1961 through 1967 for sale through a special retail market.  So there are lots of opportunities to come by watches that aren't readily identified by Hamilton's regular catalogs.

That brings me to this post's example.  As received it looks vaguely familiar but it's not obviously identifiable.


The case back is stainless steel and clearly marked Hamilton.  This style of case back is misleading a little and leads you to believe the case opens through the rear.  I can see a few pry marks where someone as tried to open it up.


The very thin bezel is a good clue that the watch opens through the crystal.  The case maker is D&A - which is usually the case maker I've seen on other M-series watches so I bet this is an early 1960's M-series model of some sort.


Here's a bit of a surprise, it has a 17 jewel 667 movement.  This Kurth Freres grade is very similar to the 661 that was used in the earlier K-series of Automatic models.  The 667 was introduced in 1960 (or thereabouts) and is used on the tail end of the K-series line and other models like the Pacermatic.  It looks largely identical to the 661 and I'm not sure what exactly the difference is.


The stainless steel case back popped off in the ultrasonic to reveal a pile-o-glue underneath.  I wasn't too surprised as that means someone succeeded in "opening the case" from behind only to be thwarted by a solid RGP back.  I'll have to re-epoxy it back on.


All the parts are cleaned and dried before being reassembled.


Everything goes back together fairly smoothly and with the train bridge and barrel bridge reinstalled I'm ready to install the balance assembly.


The watch is running and appears to have good motion.  It's off to the timer to find out how well it's really running.


The timer reveals that it's running slightly slow but there's a little noise going on inside.  The performance should be represented by two smoothly running parallel lines.  These two lines look a bit  jittery.  I'll take the balance off and re-clean the hairspring.


Well, eighth times the charm... it took me eight tries but I finally got the balance to run cleanly with a good beat error and high amplitude.  Notice how the two lines are more consistent and smooth.


The dial goes back on and then I can resonate the movement in the case.  That allows me to use the crown to help me install the hands at the 12:00 position so I know they're properly synched.


A new 30.8mm crystal will seal the watch up tight and provide defect-free viewing of the cleaned up dial and hands.


I was able to reduce some of the spotting that was on the dial and it seems to have really brightened up.  With everything all cleaned and sparkly, this mystery watch looks as great as it runs.


Saturday, May 23, 2015

1932 Andrews

You may have noticed that Hamilton typically named a lot of it's watch models with men's names.  this wasn't always the case though.  Originally the models were named for their general shapes... Cushion, Barrel, etc.  After a couple of years new models were introduced with the names of swanky resorts from the era... Meadowbrook, Pinehurst, Piping Rock, etc.  The first models to be named after people where the "Explorer Series" launched in 1932.  The world was smaller at the start of the last century and much of it was yet to be explored.  This series of watches were named after celebrated explorers from recent memory.

One of the watches from 1932 was the Andrews.  It was produced through 1934.


The Andrews came in a 14K solid yellow or white gold case with either a luminous dial or a raised gold figure dial.  Eventually Hamilton referred to the latter styled dial as an "applied gold numeral (or marker)" dial but at this point in time it was "raised".

The model is named after Roy Chapman Andrews who was a well known explorer from the 1920's.  He's thought to have been the inspiration behind the Indiana Jones character from the movies.


Among Andrews's accomplishments are the discovery of several well know dinosaurs, including the Velociraptor made famous in the Jurassic Park movies.


Another interesting bit of trivia about the Explorer series is it uses an uncommon movement from the time called the 401.  The 401 grade is a 19 jewel 12/0 sized movement that is based on an Illinois movement being made at the same time.  Hamilton acquired Illinois Watch Company in the late 1920's and the 401 was one of the ways the acquisition was integrated into Hamilton's lineup.

I recently had an opportunity to work on an Andrews thanks to a generous and daring friend.  I've never worked on a 401 before and I was a bit hesitant because if anything went wrong I would not have any spare parts to make it right.  But, in the spirit of the great explorers we decided to "go for it".

It arrived in nice shape - a little dirty but ticking, which is always a good sign.


This is an engraved dial and if need be it could be refinished to look like new.  I'll give it a gentle cleaning and see if I can brighten it up a bit.


One of the daunting aspects of this movement is the train bridge... check it out - five arbors have to be aligned at the same time in order to seat the bridge.  This is the sort of set up where I cross my fingers when I take it apart.


The 401 is a 12/0 sized movement and that's the same "size" as a 770 from 30 years later.  Yet the 401 is obviously much bigger... what gives?  Well the size is defined by the width of the main plate and not the overall size.  So the 401 and 770 are the same width but that's were the similarities end.


Without the dial in the way the dial-side of the main plate is somewhat familiar but unlike any other Hamilton movements before or since.


With the setting wheel, minute wheel, hour wheel and cannon pinion out of the way, the front is largely stripped of parts.


Turning my attention to the backside of the movement, the first thing to do is to make sure the mainspring has been let down so there's no stored energy inside.  The empty screw holes on the sides are for case screws - in case the movement was installed in a three-piece case - which it is not in this situation.


The first thing I took off was the balance assembly as it seems rather exposed in the corner of the movement.  It's best to protect it from accidental harm.  Then the barrel bridge is removed to expose the mainspring barrel.


Now the train bridge can be lifted off.  Now you can see how the power from the mainspring is passed through to the pallet fork.  The second hand is driven by a special pinion and isn't integral to the gear train (the watch would run without it if needed).  I also noticed one of the pallet fork bridge screws is missing.  Hopefully I'll have a similar screw to use as a replacement.


I don't have a replacement mainspring for a 401 so I just cleaned and reinstalled the existing one.  It wasn't set too bad so it should be okay.


All the parts are cleaned and dried.  Time to go into the breach and see if I can reassemble it.


Check out the second hand pinion... not much to it really.


The first thing to go back in are the wheels.  I'll put the pallet fork in after the train bridge is set - that way it won't interfere with the wheels' movement.


Well, I'd like to say that was hard but it just dropped in place right from the start... that never happens but it did today.  A quick touch to the center wheel makes all five arbors spin effortlessly.


Now I'll put the pallet fork back in, along with a replacement for the missing screw.


From there it's just a matter of putting the mainspring barrel back in, giving the watch a few winds and setting the balance back in place.  The watch is now ticking away.


A trip to the timer reveals an odd "hunting" pattern.  It reminds me of a lawn mower engine that is cycling fast and slow, fast and slow.  I'm not sure what is causing it but the first thing I'll do it pass it through my demagnetizer.


Well, a few passes through the demagnetizer and a couple of attempts at cleaning the hairspring seem to have leveled it out a bit put it's still not perfect.  Sometimes you need to know when to call it a day though.  Every time I take it apart is an opportunity to foul it up.  A man's got to know his limitations.


The reassembled movement goes back into it's case and in my light tent the watch dial looks a little more splotchy than it appears in regular light to the naked eye.  It's actually a pretty sharp looking watch.