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Sunday, January 22, 2017

1963 Thin-o-matic T-408

There were a lot of one-year wonders in the early 1960's.  I guess Hamilton was pulling out all the stops while trying to compete in an ever-increasingly competitive watch market, and trying to make sure they had exactly what every potential customer might want.

One of the watches only made in 1963 is the Thin-o-matic T-408.  The T-408 came in a 10K gold filled case with a matching bracelet.

You can't tell from the catalog depiction that the T-408 has a textured dial.  I'm sure that was part of the rationale for the bracelet choice.

I recently received a T-408 project watch from a fellow collector.  It was his father's watch and it had some issues... not the least of which was it went through the laundry process.  Needless to say, it wasn't running.  It looks like the finish on the dial is a bit compromised but the owner said it looked like that before the washing machine got a hold of it.  So who knows what I'll find inside?

The back of the case is very flat so I suspect there will be a Buren micro-rotor inside.  I don't know what's up with the back of the lugs... are they bent or are they supposed to look like that?

This watch is a front loader and opens through the crystal.  The crystal is a bit scratched up so even though my first picture looks pretty good, once the crystal is removed you can see the dial has an interesting vertical texture.

This is a good time to point out a couple of oddities.  First, the dial is crimped at the positions... 12:00, 21 minutes and 42 minutes.  I'm not sure what that's all about and I doubt it's original.  Also the dial is dented near the N in Hamilton and above the C in Thin-o-matic.  That may have been from a past attempt at removing the hands.

One thing I noticed is I couldn't set the time on the watch.  The minute hand moved but not the hour hand.  It also set only in one direction. That may be related to the dented dial... time will tell, pun intended.

In order to get the movement out, I need to align the joint in the two-piece stem.  That allows me to swing the movement outward and pivot at the joint.  With a little finesse the two parts with separate without damaging the female side of the stem.

The movement looks greasy, like its got a thin coat of oil but it doesn't show any signs of being in a washing machine.  There is no rust anywhere.

There's a mark inside the case back from the rotor dragging.  I see two watchmaker's marks inside so I'm following in someone's footsteps for sure.

Someone has tried to work the dents out of the dial based on the scratches on the back.

Here's one reason why the watch might not be working, the click is stuck under the barrel.  It should ride on top and engage the upper ratchet wheel.  The little wire visible on the outside of the movement circumference is the spring that pushes the click against the ratchet wheel.  It's a bit mangled, as you can probably see.  This spring is easy to not notice, until you stab your finger onto it while holding the movement.  It's long enough to draw blood so I always give it a wide berth.

The wheel below is also shown in the photo above.  It's what transmits the power from the rotor to the mainspring barrel.  Notice this wheel is missing a tooth and will need to be replaced.

Well, I think the legitimacy of the bent lugs can be determined by the fact that the spring bars are compressed and cannot be removed.  In other words, the lugs have been bent inward so that the spring bars cannot be compressed any further.  I'll have to cut them out and then straighten the lugs.

Everything is cleaned and dried.  I think the micro rotor movements have the most parts of all the movements I usually work on.  It takes for ever to put one back together.  Fortunately this movement doesn't have the calendar complication - that's even more parts to keep track of!

The reassembled movement is now ticking away and sitting on the timer.

It's running a little fast but that's easily corrected.  The beat error isn't too bad and this movement has a fixed hairspring stud so I'm not going to tempt fate by trying to reduce it.

There... 22 seconds fast per day is a good place to stop while the watch settles in.

This watch didn't have a dial washer so I will add one from my stash.  A dial washer is a flat spring and keeps the hour wheel away from the dial and in contact with the minute wheel - so the hands will stay in sync.

A new 30.8 mm crystal will improve the looks of the watch, even if the dial isn't 100%.

Here's the finished project on a new croc strap.  I relumed the dial and hands as well as straightened the lugs.  Looks pretty good, in my opinion, and much better than my merciless camera makes it out to be.

The M and part of the C in Thin-o-matic disappeared somewhere during the process.  The finish on the dial was lifting off and it must have flaked off.  I treated the dial to a "poor man's refinish" and sprayed a light coat of lacquer on it - so now it's sound and should present well for a few more years.  Textured dials can be tricky to get refinished well.


  1. I have a Hamilton GG-W-113 watch that is in need of a replacement stem set. Do you have a recommendation of who I can contact to find one?

  2. I have aT-408, not running fair to good condition, whats its value?, And how rare is this watch