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Saturday, December 31, 2016

1955 Errol

One of the marks of distinction of a vintage Hamilton watch is the applied gold markers or numerals on the dials were solid gold, at least on the US-made models.   Beginning in the late 1930's, when the case was white gold or gold filled, the numerals or markers would be rhodium plated to appear silver while still being solid yellow gold underneath.

Initially the dial markers were 18K gold but in the 1950's they transitioned to 14K gold.  I had not noticed that some models were impacted by the change.  

For example, the 1955 Errol had 18K markers and numerals.

However,  in 1957 the material changed to 14K, although the retail price stayed the same.  That's an interesting bit of trivia that I wasn't aware of until today.

The Errol came in a 10K yellow gold filled case with a two tone butler finish on the dial.  The model features diamond-shaped markers at the 12, 3, and 9 positions and numerals elsewhere except at 6, were there was nothing.

Being a 10K gold filled 1955 model you might find one with a 17 jewel 752 movement inside but you're more likely to find one with a 22 jewel 770 movement since it was also introduced in 1955.

I suppose if you could test the gold on the dial you could identify a 1957 model but otherwise unless the case is engraved, there's no easy way to identify the year of a specific Errol.

Even though the Errol was made for three years, I don't think you tend to see them very often.  I managed to find a project watch and it looked like it might be a diamond in the rough.

There is a little bit of wear to the extreme corners but otherwise the case is decent shape.  This example is engraved with initials and the date Dec 11, 1955... to celebrate a birthday perhaps?

The finish on the dial appears compromised but it could just be nicotine ... if it's the latter it should clean up nicely.

Based on the general haze on the movement, it's been a long time since this movement has been to a watchmaker.

The inside of the case back makes identify the model very easy.  I see a few past watchmakers' marks so this watch was well maintained initially.

The back of the dial in unremarkable so it doesn't appear to have been refinished already.  Original dials will often clean up okay but refinished dial will usually lose their printing if you clean them.  Since the dial looks like crap at the moment, I'll give cleaning it a try - otherwise I'll send it out to be refinished.

Everything is cleaned and dried.  In a "where's Waldo?" sort of way, can you spot the extra hands in the photo below?  I was multitasking while the movement was being cleaned.

A new glass crystal will be a nice improvement but only to the extent that it will also reveal every flaw on the dial.  This type of crystal is called Cylinder, because it arched from top to bottom, as opposed to being flat.

The reassembled movement goes onto the timer.  It's nice and sparkly now.

The beat error of 5.2ms is too high to let slide.  My upper spec limit is 3.0ms for models with a fixed hair spring stud - as it's hard to adjust the beat error on this type of balance.

In this shot you can see the pinkish impulse jewel at the 12 o'clock position of the roller table.  The stud is on the opposite side near the 3 o'clock position.  The difference in position should be about 90 degrees, so I will rotate the hairspring to move the stud such that it's more on top of the balance arm.

Alright... 1.1ms is quite acceptable and a quick tweak to the regulator brings the beat rate to just north of spot-on.  19 seconds per day fast is a good place to be, as it will settle down after a while.

My cleaning of the dial was off to a start but I had a sneaking suspicion that I was going to lose the printing, so I stopped.  I'll leave it like this so the dial refinisher knows what it should look like when it's finished.

Getting a dial redone can be a real value-killer, especially on some high end watches.  Generally speaking, refinished dials on Hamiltons is fine as long as the dial is redone correctly.  One might argue that I would have been better off leaving the dial as is - as at least the finish was consistent.  However I would rather have a nicely done refinished dial over a crappy looking original dial - unless the model is exceptionally rare.  

Stay tuned for an update to this post when I get the dial back.


As promised, I sent the dial out to be refinished.  It looks much better now, don't you think?


  1. Hi Dan - I picked up a project Errol containing a 19j 753 movement. From reading your blog, especially the Blair renovation, the 753 was replaced by the 770 in '55. That was the same year the Errol was released. Is it abnormal to see a '54 753 in a '55 watch? It was a pretty small investment so you won't bum me out with any answer.

    On another note, are all 770's the same size? In other words, if I wish to replace the 753 mentioned above with a 770, do I need to be careful from what case it came? Or are all the 770's the same size and thus any would fit my Errol?

    1. Models came out the Fall before the year (like new cars do). So you’ll have a 1955 Errol that was made in 1954 before the 770 was released in 1955. The 770 is largely the same as the 753 except for the additional jewels and the shock jeweled balance.

  2. Thanks. Needed to set a direction. Your blog has inspired me to get my hands dirty. Not trying to fix a movement. Just starting with detailing. I do have to get the movement working and will have to pay someone to do it. It might be less expensive to buy a new one. Would any 770 fit in the Errol case?

  3. Hi Dan! The dial turned out beautifully. Where do you send them for refinishing?