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 30, 2016

1961 Sea Guard

Most Hamilton models are gold or silver, but rarely are they both.  Hamilton even went to the trouble of rhodium plating yellow gold figures when the case was white gold or gold filled.

There are a few "silver and gold" models out there though, and one of them is the 1961 Sea Guard.  It was produced through 1963.

You can't tell from the catalog image but the write up explains that the stainless steel case is contrasted with a gold chapter ring and gold links going down the center the of the bracelet.  It's a very nice looking watch, in my opinion.

Tucked inside the waterproof case is a Swiss-made Hamilton 688 manual winding movement.  This ETA-made grade is a manual winding sibling of the automatic 689 made in the same period.

I recently had a fellow collector send me one of his new acquisitions.  It looked familiar, as I think he out-bid me for it... which seems to happen quite frequently nowadays.  What drew both of our attentions though, is it came with it's original bracelet!

As received, it was in nice looking condition.  All it really needs is a trip to the spa and fresh lubrication.

Like most "waterproof" models of the 1960's, the Sea Guard is a front-loader.  So it opens through the crystal and a special tool is needed to compress the crystal and lift it off the case.  The "waterproof" models all carried a disclaimer - the seals in the crown have to be good, otherwise water can still get in.  As a general rule, you should keep all watches, even modern ones, away from water unless you know for sure that the crown seals are solid.

My movement photo is a little blurry but you can tell this movement looks very nice, but that doesn't mean the oil inside hasn't evaporated.

This movement's "center wheel" is actually off to the side at about 8:00 in the shot below.  So the cannon pinion on this movement is special.  It's got a gold ring around it that engages the "third wheel" and as the third wheel turns, the cannon pinion turns.

You need to put a tiny bit of oil on the inside of the gold ring so that it can slip around the cannon pinion when you set the time.  But first, this is going through the cleaner.

All the parts are cleaned and dried.

The balance is swinging away with good motion so it's off to the timer.

Everything looks good.  It was running a web fast so you can see the effect of my tweaking the regulator to slow it down and then to speed it back up until I got the two lines to level out horizontally.

Now you can see how sweet this watch looks with it's matching bracelet.  The hands look black since they're reflecting the shadow out side my light tent.  The hands are silver though.  This is a great looking watch... I should have bid more and made my friend pay more dearly for it!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

1965 Arthur

Unlike my last post, the 1951 Clyde, I know plenty of people that share a name with my latest project watch, a 1965 Arthur.  In fact, I wonder why it took 40 years to get around to using that name?  They never did get to my name, Daniel, oh well - I'll have to settle for the Boone or Webster, I suppose.

The Arthur was introduced in 1965 and produced through 1969.

The Arthur came in a 10K yellow RGP case with a stainless steel back.  You had your choice of a matching bracelet or a Hamilton strap.  The embossed white dial features an interesting linen pattern that I wouldn't want to have to get refinished.

Inside the case is a Swiss-made Hamilton 686 movement.

I recently landed a Arthur and it arrived with an aftermarket bracelet and one of the lugs bent at an odd angle.  I was able to put the lug back into it's proper position so all four lugs look like they should.

The back is engraved with a presentation to a grand pooh-bah of some sort of a Masonic lodge in up-state New York.  I was able to google the recipient's name and found out he was born in 1910 and passed away in 1991.  Where this watch has been for the past 24 years is anyone's guess, but his wife passed way in 2010, at the ripe old age of 98.

Without the crystal in way, you can see that the dial is in excellent condition.

The 686 movement look bright and shiny but I don't see any watchmaker's marks in the inside of the case back - so I may be the first person to have laid eyes on this movement since 1965.

While all the parts are being cleaned, I'll prep a new PK (low profile) crystal for installation.  30.0mm will do the trick.

Everything is cleaned and dried.  The trickiest part of putting this movement back together is to get all four wheels to line up at the same time so the train bridge falls into place.  Once that's done the rest is a breeze.

The movement is now ticking away with good motion, that's a good sign.

The beat error is a little high, especially for a movement where the beat error is so easily adjusted.  Of greater concern is the little bit of extraneous noise that is affecting the lower of the two lines.  I'll reclean the balance and then adjust the beat error.

Here you can see where I've tweaked the hair spring stud position and gradually reduced to the beat error so that the two lines are right next to each other.


With a new strap and crystal, this Arthur looks like it just left the Lancaster, Pa factory.  It's a good sized watch too - probably 34mm in diameter, which is large for a vintage watch.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

1951 Clyde

As I'm sure you know, Hamilton named many of it's men's models with men's names.  Sometimes they repeated names and there are plenty of common men's names they didn't use.  One of the more obscure names they used was the 1951 Clyde.

Now I'm sure there are plenty of Clydes out there but I can't think of a single person I know named Clyde.  In fact, the only person that comes to mind is Clint Eastwood's best friend in "Any Which Way But Loose"... Right Turn, Clyde.

Maybe in 1951 more people were named Clyde.  I don't know.  Anyway, the Clyde was only offered for a single year.  Maybe that was because of the gawd-awful bracelet they paired it with.  Talk about ugly.  Only an orangutan would choose this bracelet for this model!

The Clyde came in a 10K gold filled case with a white-finished sterling silver dial and 18K numerals and dots.  Tucked inside is Hamilton's 8/0 sized 17 jewel 747 movement.

My project watch arrived in typical "as found" condition.  Someone installed a Speidel expansion bracelet that isn't much better than the bracelet Hamilton's designers picked out.  The watch is a little beat up but it doesn't really show much wear to the high points, so it ought to clean up nicely.

A little simichrome polish will go a long way toward spiffing up the case back.

Without the scratched up crystal blocking the view, you can see that the dial is original and in excellent shape for being 60+ years old.

The 747 movement is arguably the easiest grade in Hamilton's lineup to work on.  You can screw them up, of course, but they aren't as finicky as many of the other movements.

The inside of the case back is stamped with the model name.  That makes identification much easier.

While everything is being cleaned, I'll prep a new glass crystal for installation.

Everything is cleaned and dried before being reassembled.

My camera has frozen the movement in time but the balance is ticking away with good motion.

Darn, the beat error is a bit too high to let slide.  The closer to zero, the better, but I'll usually accept anything in the range of 3 or under.

Looking at the underside of the balance, I aligned the regulator pins with the pallet fork so I'd be able to see to what side the impulse jewel falls.  It's a little to the right of the regulator so I need to move it counter-clockwise a smidgen.

I was able to cut the beat error in half.  Good is good enough, especially when every attempt risks screwing up the hairspring.  You can see the effect of my tweaking the regulator to bring the two lines horizontal.

With a new crystal and a fresh strap, this Clyde is looking awesome now.  It's very similar to a lot of other models from the same period.  I imagine that is why it only was produced for a single year... that, and the crazy-ugly bracelet, I bet.

Monday, January 18, 2016

1962 Blade

Some of the most popular Hamilton models are the Electric asymmetric models like the Ventura, Pacer, etc.  There are also quite a few mechanical models as well - and they are equally popular, perhaps even more so, because they are much easier to service.  Very few watchmakers will work on the Electric movements, unfortunately.

One of the mechanical asymmetric models is the 1962 Blade.  It was produced through 1969. Initially it came only in a yellow gold filled case.

In 1963, the Blade came in both yellow or white gold filled.  1963 also offered the Lord Lancaster C, which was identical to the white Blade with the exception of diamonds on the dial, where the Blade had gold markers.

What makes the Blade an asymmetric model is the lugs are different thicknesses and the case is thicker on the left side than the right.  Even though the watch is basically rectangular, it looks somewhat skewed.  I don't know if it's an optical illusion, or what, but the crystal stretches out to the right just enough to make things look unbalanced.

The Blade was outfitted with Hamilton's 22 jewel 12/0 sized movement, the 770 and has a radially finished dial with applied hour markers at 12, 3, 6 and 9.  The Hamilton logo is also offset at the 5 position, giving the watch a nontraditional, futuristic look.  However, the H logo is still centered under the 12... I guess the Hamilton executives told the designers, "Let's not get too crazy".

I've overhauled Blades before but I was surprised I never put one on the blog.  I was recently given another opportunity so I'm happy to show one to you now.

As received, it was in very nice shape but not running very well.

Blades tend to sell for "good money" and usually well into the realm of solid gold models - which is uncommon for gold filled models.

This movement appears to be in good shape but you can tell it's a little dirty.  There was a lot of gunk under the ratchet wheel (the large silver wheel).  That was probably robbing the movement of a lot of power, but a little dirt here and there will add up to a big problem eventually.

Everything is completely disassembled in order to be thoroughly cleaned.  There are some watch cleaners out there that only partially disassemble movements as part of their overhaul process.  I suppose that's like taking your car through a drive through car wash... it's sort of clean but not really as clean as doing it the old fashioned way.  Anyway - this movement is ready to be put back together with three different kinds of fresh lubricants.

The movement is now ticking away briskly - that's a good sign.

According to the timer, the watch is running about a minute and a half fast with good amplitude and an acceptable beat error.  A slight adjustment to the regulator is all that is needed to bring the time keeping inline.

I slowed it down a little too much but a final tweak got the two lines to approach horizontal.  I'll leave it like this for now.

The finished watch looks just like it did when I started but now it runs as nicely as it looks.  It's ready for some more wrist time.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

1962 Seaton

You'll find that the vast majority of Hamilton's men's models have second hands.  Typically the second hand is driven by the 4th wheel.  It's really rather simple... all you had to do is extend the 4th wheel's pivot through the main plate and put a second hand on it.

Since wrist watches were originally based on ladies pocket watches, when the movement was "open faced" the second hand was at the 9 position (on a wrist watch) and when a "hunting cased" movement was used, the second hand was at the 6 position.

With the introduction of the 987 movement in 1927, the second hand was predominantly at the 6 position.  That was usually the case until the first sweep second hand movement was introduced with the 1940 Sentinel.  The Sentinel introduced the 987-S, which would also be used in WWII models with sweep second hands.   However, there was also one men's model that lacked a second hand - the 1936 Norfolk - it's one of a handful of men's models to use a ladies movement (the others were in the 1960s).

It wasn't until the 1960's that Hamiton's designers created a few models without a second hand again.  One of them was the 1962 Seaton.  It was produced through 1965.

The Seaton is a popular watch - probably because it is so unique looking.  It features a bold grey band around the rim of the dial with engraved golden hour markers.  The thin gold baton hands give the watch a classic 1960's elegant look.

You may be wondering what special movement Hamilton used to accomplish this feat?  I guess adding a second hard is harder than removing one - as all they had to do was trim the pivot on the 4th wheel so it wouldn't be as long and the problem was solved.  So you'll find a 12/0 sized 770 movement inside the Seaton and it's the same 770 movement used in many other models.  The only difference is the 4th wheel has a shortened pivot.

Although the Seaton was made for several years, you don't often see them for sale.  I recently had a fellow collector send me one that they purchased.  They got a pretty good deal on it - or so they thought.  It was described to me as one of those "thrill of victory / agony of defeat" things... which I think is pretty fitting.

Can you tell what's wrong with it?

I had not seen a Seaton in the flesh before so I wasn't quite sure at first either.  The issue is it's missing it's bezel, or a ring that snaps onto the case.  It should have a much thicker gold band going around the outside perimeter.  Check out the catalog image for comparison.

This is the same issue I had when I purchased a 1964 Pan Europ... it looked great, until I realized what was wrong with it.

Live and learn, I guess.  It's a shame though.  I wonder what happened to it?  Maybe it popped off and they didn't know it could be popped back on.

Anywho - my friend suggested I glue the crystal down over the top after I finished overhauling the movement.  From the side it looks like this would be a decent solution, as the crystal covers the ledge that the bezel would snap on to and aligns flush to the side of the case.

There's a problem with the idea of gluing the crystal on though.  First, the Seaton is a "front loader" so you have to open it from the front to get at the movement.  Second, the crystal actually holds the dial in place so with out the crystal inside the case there is nothing to secure the movement.

In the shot below you can see how the case is essentially an empty pie pan with a tube for the two-piece stem.

The 770 movement sits in a ring that fits snugly into the pie-pan.  This movement is rather dirty so a trip to the spa was a good idea.

You can't really tell when its installed but the crown (on the right , below) that came with the watch is damaged and split.  I found a replacement (on the left) but I had to search hard to find one.  The stem tube on the Seaton is surprising large... almost 3mm.  None of my usual water-proof tap 10 crowns would fit over so large a tube, which is likely why the crown on the watch was used - it's the only thing a pat watchmaker had that would fit.  I wouldn't be surprised if the Seaton takes a special crown with gaskets on the post that goes into the tube, as opposed to inside the crown body to seal the outside of the tube.  What I have will work for now, but it may be too large if a bezel is someday located.

Everything is cleaned and ready for reassembly.

If you have a good eye for detail, you might notice that I installed a different stem in the movement.  I did that to help me wind the watch.  It's running nicely and sitting on my timer.

The movement was running a little slow and had a beat error of 5.7ms.  I realized I neglected to take a picture after I downloaded the photos.  5.7ms was too high to let slide so I removed the balance and adjusted the hairspring collet.  As you can see below, I nailed the beat error.  I'd like to say I'm that good, but it was pretty much luck, as it's done by eyeballing the position of the impulse jewel relative to the pallet fork.  I'll take all the luck I can get though, adjusting the beat error on this movement can prove perilous.

It doesn't take much of an adjustment to the regulator to speed the watch up.  You can see the effects of my adjustment as the two lines approach horizontal.  Now the watch is running "spot on", as they say.

Since the watch doesn't have a sweep second hand, a low profile PK style crystal should do the trick nicely.  I don't think the Seaton had a reflector ring.  If that was the case I would have chosen an ET style crystal with a gold ring.  But the PK should do just fine and 28.2mm will give it a good, snug fit.

Here's the finished project with it's grey strap and a proper fitting crystal.  I don't think you'd realize the watch was missing an important design element (the bezel ring) if hadn't already told you.

I think it's a pretty sharp looking watch as is.  What do you think?