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Greetings!

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.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

1954 Datomatic A

Hamilton introduced their first calendar models in 1954.  The Hamilton Illinois Datomatic A was one of the first calendar models although there was also the Automatic K-575.  The Dataomatic A was produced for only two years.

The 1954 version was offered in two dial patterns; on with numerals at 12, 6 and 9 and the other with numerals at the even number hours.  Only the even numbered pattern was offered in 1955, so if you come across the dial with numerals at 12, 6 and 9, you know it's a 1954 model.

Like the K-575, the Datomatic A came in a stainless steel case.  It's purely a guess, but the material choice of stainless steel makes me think that Hamilton executive may not have been sold on the idea that buyers would be interested in a watch that could tell the date, in addition to the time.  As such, they limited their risk by pricing the watch at the lowest price point possible... a stainless steel case.

The Illinois-branded movements were the first time that Hamilton "stooped so low" as to use Swiss-made movements.  Up until this point, every Hamilton movement was made in the USA, and mostly in Lancaster, PA.  The exception being some of the movements that came as the result of the acquisition of Illinois Watch Company in 1928.

The Datomatic A used a variation of the ETA 1258, made by the Swiss ├ębauche maker, ETA - who still makes Hamilton's movements today, by the way.

I recently made a run at a Datomatic on eBay and missed out.  However, the eventual winner contacted me about the watch so I got to see it after all.  As received, it was running but it was very dirty and in need of a new crystal for sure.  It interesting to note that the date wheel is red on these older calendar models.


The back of the case is marked Illinois and stainless steel.  The Illinois models are pretty spartan and lack some of the finer details that the Hamilton-branded models had.  For example, there is no serial number on the case or the movements.


The case back unscrews to reveal the classic shape of an ETA rotor.  You'll see this same rotor shape in some of the Hamilton automatics, like the Kinematic.


With the dial and hands removed you can see the business end of the movement.  This is a new setup for me and it's actually much simpler than the other ETA calendar models like the 694A that I've seen.  The jumper is a small wheel near the 26 date and the index is spring-loaded wheel at the 2 date.  This date wheel sort of eases on in to the next date rather than pop into the next date at midnight.    Also, you need to set the time forward, and forward, and forward, until you get to the date you want, as there is no quick way of changing the date on this model.


All of the main calendar parts are removed and it's starting to look like a plain old ETA 1256 movement now.


With the oscillating weight removed, you can see the movement looks like any other ETA grade.  I like the Inca-shock jewels - they are easy to open to clean and lubricate.


While all the parts are being cleaned, I will polish the case and prep a new crystal for installation.  I got a question on what prepping a crystal means so I'll answer it here.  For round crystals, it's a piece of cake.  Glass crystals is a different story.

First I measure the old crystal and the bezel opening and pick a crystal that has a profile high enough to accommodate a sweep second hand and a diameter just larger than the bezel opening.  A 29.8mm GS PHD (high dome) crystal will do nicely.


I clean the crystal and put it in my Bergeon holder so that when I use "the claw" it will grip it in the right place.


The trick with these crystals is to get the tool to grasp the crystal with enough material to hold but also to allow the crystal to go into the case.  Tightening the tool compresses the crystal enough that it will fit into the bezel and when you loosen the tool the crystal expands and tightens into the bezel.


There should be just enough material to go into the bezel.


Now I put the bezel onto the crystal and loosen the tool.


There... good as new.


Everything is cleaned, dried and ready for reassembly.  I'll also relume the hands the dial.


The movement is back together, just need to add the balance.


The balance is ticking away, even without a balance jewel.  It will be even smoother once it's supported by it's jewels.


Ah, purring like a kitten.  If you have good eyes you might be able to see TXD on the balance cock.  That's the import code for Illinois branded movements and all of the Illinois movement have TXD on the balance cock.


According to the timer, it's running a little fast but a tweak to the regulator will slow it down.


There... that's much better, good amplitude and the beat error is on the high side of acceptable.  These older ETA grades have fixed hair spring studs so they're a pain to adjust the beat error.  I'll leave it as is rather than risk goofing up and otherwise fine hairspring.


All of the parts on the front of the main plate get reinstalled and I can confirm that the date changes when it gets to 12:00.  Now to install the dial and hands.


The finished watch looks really good with a new crystal and fresh lume on the dial and hands.  I also installed a period-correct vintage gray strap like most of the stainless Illinois models often got.  Looks pretty sharp, I think.


Saturday, November 26, 2016

1958 Seville

Most vintage watches are small, especially by today's standards.  By the end of the 1950's though, some models started to get larger, even if the movements were still the same smallish size.

A good example of a nice-sized vintage watch is the 1958 Seville.  Although it was produced for four years, you don't often come across them in the wild.

The Seville was part of the Medallist line, the third level in the line of models with US-made movements.  Top of the line models were in the Masterpiece series, then came the Medallion lineup and the Medalist models.  After that were the Fine models... still quite high end but priced to be more competitive with other makers.

The Seville has a 10K gold filled case with a unique textured dial with a white finish and gold embossed markers and numerals.

Inside the Seville is the 8/0 sized 735 movement, the shock-jeweled replacement for the 748 grade that was used since 1948.

I recently landed a Seville and it's the first one I've ever seen.  The crystal has yellowed with time and it was rather dirty but I thought it would clean up nicely.


The case has a wear spot near the crown.  It's not a hole and a jeweler could probably fill it in but I'll leave that project for another day.

This watch reminds me a lot of the 1956 Whitman produced at the same time.


The case is a two-piece design and the bezel pops off to reveal the textured dial with a gold pearled track.  This dial has a slight patina around the perimeter and although it's very tempting to try to remove it, I would hate to lose the finish and printing on the dial.  Sometimes it's best to let sleeping dogs lie.


Check out how much extra dial there is around the outside of the movement.   This movement is very dirty and I can't see an obvious reason for it not running.  Hopefully a good cleaning is all it needs.


Everything is cleaned and dried.  Putting one of these 748 / 735 movements back together is a daunting task.  The first couple of times I tackled this grade, it didn't go very well and I have gotten more than a few emails from people looking for replacement escape wheels for movements others have goofed up.


Despite my confidence, I still breathe a sigh of relief when I get the train bridge to fall into place.  You have to get four wheels to align perfectly and it can be a challenge.

With experience, you eventually realize that the bridge falls into place when things are lined up and if the bridge doesn't fall into place then one of the wheels is out of place.  Any extra pressure will result in a broken pivot or two.  It's a simple lesson that is hard to learn.


Installing the balance is a breeze compared with the rest of the movement.  The tricky part is getting the shock jewels back in place and closing the inca springs.  Now the movement is ticking away with good motion - it's off to the timer.


Not too shabby... I'll leave it here and let it settle in.


A new crystal and a fresh lizard strap complete this Seville's restoration.  The Seville is a very sleek and elegant model, in my opinion.  The dauphine-shaped hands and thin hour markers help with that.  The watch seems very thin though, considering the movement it uses, and the 35mm wide case makes that possible.  The crystal for the Seville is over 31mm - close to the largest I've used.  This is a big watch by vintage standards.


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Vintage Hamilton Parts Catalog

This vintage Hamilton parts catalog is from the late 1960's and details the part numbers for the majority of pre-1969 movements.  You simply need to know what type part you're looking for and the  grade of the movement.

Click on a photo to bring up a larger version of an individual page and you can scroll through the parts manual from there.