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Friday, March 3, 2017

1973 Auto Cal Sovereign

Fans of the Madagascar movies might recall the scene where "Moto Moto" puts his moves on "Gloria".  He likes 'm big, he likes 'm chunky.

Moto Moto must have worked at Hamilton in the 1970's, as that's a great way to describe many of the models introduced in that decade.

I'll have a few of them to show soon but I'll start with the 1973 Auto Cal Sovereign.  The model was produced for four years.

The Auto Cal Sovereign, as you might guess, is an automatic with a calendar complication.  The Q/C II designation means that it's got a quick change setting ability that allows you to easily set the date.  Prior calendar models required you to advance in time to change the date.  With the Q/C function, you pull the crown out midway between the winding position and the time setting position and you can change the date by turning the crown.

The Sovereign came in a 14K yellow gold electroplated case with a stainless steel back.  The dial is blue and the second hand is white.  So it's very colorful model.

You didn't see colored dials on Hamiltons before 1969 other than the basics... white, silver, black, and occasionally gold.  The 1970's was a different story.

My Auto Cal Sovereign wasn't very attractive based on the seller's photo but the their description didn't sound too bad, "In good condition with minor surface scratches on case and crystal."  The dial appeared to have dust or something on it but it otherwise looked like it should clean up well.

One of the things that working on watches teaches you is patience.  It also gives you a healthy dose of humility, from time to time.  Having tenacity and a flair for persistence isn't a bad idea either.

So even though I'm in the 99th percentile of patience, tenacity, and persistence, I sometimes get a little eager to "tear into" a new project when the mailman drops one off.

That was the case with this watch.  I got into it without my camera handy and I just couldn't stop myself.  So I don't have my usual photos to describe my project.

Long story short, the seller's description wasn't entirely true...  the watch was good apparent condition with minor surface scratches on case and crystal.  However, what the seller seemed to miss was that the crown was frozen on and the watch could not be wound or set.

That's pretty much why I got carried away.  My initial inspection of the watch led me to realize it was a rusty mess in the keyless works area and it was totally seized up inside.  The watch would run if the automatic wound it - but there was no way the time or date could be set.


Taking apart a rusty watch is a real pain but I eventually got there and I used parts from a donor movement to get everything back in shape.

The movement inside my project watch is a caliber 821.  It's pretty darned similar to an 822 and, in fact, I have no idea what the difference could possibly be.  There must be something though. As you can see by the shape of the rotor - it's an ETA based grade.

I was able to clean the dial up very well.  It's not 100% but it's more than presentable.  I replaced the beat up old crystal with a GS Evr-Tite 29.6mm crystal with a yellow reflector ring.  I paired the watch with a nice leather strap with blue stitching.  It's a pretty sharp combination, if you like 'm big and chunky.

A lot of models from the 1970's later are also identified by the numbers on the case back.  So the Auto Cal Sovereign is identifiable by the number 840007-4.  The -4 indicates the bezel should be yellow.


  1. Hi there! By any chance do you know if an Auto Sovereign movement could be used in an Auto Yorktown case? I don't know the exact specifications of each movement, but I was restoring an Auto Yorktown and screwed up the movement...BAD.

    1. Oops. I think they are all the same size but date wheels can have different orientations depending on window locations, etc.

    2. Hi I picked up a 820007-3 and it looks very much like an auto sovereign . I picked it up from here https://www.wolfevintagewatches.com/products/1970s-hamilton-820007-3. Have you seen a catalogue entry anywhere for this . Regards Terry

    3. That case number is used for a couple of models, the Dateline A-594 (1972) and the Auto Cal Columbia (1973), neither look like yours and both have different bracelets too - so the case must have been used at least three times.