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, October 22, 2017

1961 Accumatic A-575 Calendar

One of the nice things about a hobby like collecting Hamiltons is there are always opportunities to learn new things.  You can go broad or you can go deep.  Given enough time you can even do both.

For example, I recently came across a model that I was unaware of.  It's an Accumatic and it's got a calendar complication but it's not a Dateline model.  The Dateline models were introduced in 1963.  The model I came across is a one-year-wonder, the 1961 Accumatic A-575.

To my eye the A-575 was ahead of it's time.  I thought for sure it was going to be from the late 1960s so it came as a surprise to see it was from 1961.  The model comes in a two-piece stainless steel case.  Tucked inside is a movement I haven't come across before - a 17 jewel 692 automatic movement.

My project watch arrived in non-running condition but it looks good overall.  The dial is fairly complicated so I'm glad it's in good shape because it would be a challenge to get it refinished properly.

The back is a pie pan with a separate ring to secure it to the front.  This is my least favorite style of case back.  The ring can be a challenge to grasp, making it hard to open and close.

This case was made in Germany and it's reminiscent of several other early 1960 models like the Sea Scout.

The 692 is obviously an ETA movement.  From the back it looks just like a 679, 689, or any of the other Accumatic movements.

Check out the dial... it has a silver colored band around the perimeter with a textured center.  The hands are luminous and there are little dots at the hour positions, but some have been lost to time.

Well, as you can see by the calendar complication, the 692 is not the same as the 694 used in the Dateline models.  The date wheel advances slowly until the spring-loaded index lever positions the new number in the dial window.  The 694 has a spring-loaded mechanism that quickly snaps the date wheel one position when the date changes.

The index lever on this movement is larger than on the 694 and it has a guide wheel to position the wheel between the teeth.  The U-shaped spring is a little heavier than the 694... so I need to take extra care not to accidentally lose it.

With the date wheel out of the way you can see just how much more substantial the index lever is on this grade.  It's definitely more complicated than the 694 that replaced it.

The front of the main plate has been stripped of parts.  Now to flip it over and work on the back.

Without the oscillating weight blocking the view, the movement looks just like any other ETA automatic.

The 692 is based on an ETA 2452, as evidenced by the stamp under the balance wheel.  The 694 is based on an ETA 2472 - that's good to know if I need to find parts any parts that they don't share.

Everything is cleaned and ready for reassembly.

Well, here's the reason the watch was not running.  The 4th wheel is out of flat.  I could probably straighten it but it's easier to replace it with a better example from another ETA movement that uses the same wheel.

When the train wheels are reassembled they should spin freely.  If they are sluggish at this point, the watch will not run properly once it's assembled.

The movement is now back to running condition.  Let's see how well it's ticking.

Not too shabby.  The beat error of 1.8ms is well within my specs (l like to be under 3.0ms).   Since this movement has a fixed hairspring stud it's not as easy to adjust as iwith later ETA grades.  Reducing it would require removing the balance from the balance cock and risking goofing up an otherwise perfect hairspring.

It took about 20 minutes and all of the language I learned in the Navy to get the spring and index lever positioned with the date wheel.  I performed the task in my camera light tent - just in case any of the parts decided to spring out, which they did.  It's all back together now and once I add the hour wheel I can advance the time and test that the date wheel advances.

The 28.5mm crystal that came on the watch was in good shape but it was a little loose in the bezel.  A slightly larger 28.9mm will be a better fit.

This unique watch turned out great!  I'm really surprised that the model was only available for a single year.  I suspect that either the long range plans for the Dateline series scuttled it or the advances in ETA technology did.  Probably not the latter though, as I suspect a 694 could have been dropped in its place without any significant changes required.  Other models from the early 1960s had different movements over time... like the 679 evolved to the 689, for example.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

1960's ZentRa Savoy

When is a Hamilton watch not a Hamilton watch?

Well, one answer is when it's a Vantage watch as I've posted before.  Vantage models don't say Hamilton on them anywhere, but they were made by Hamilton-owned factories and shown in some of the Hamilton catalogs.

Another answer that is also accurate is sometimes when it's a ZentRa Savoy.

As I understand it, ZentRa was a watchmaking association, or co-op, that provided ZentRa-branded merchandise to German jewelers who purchased from the association.

ZentRa made a variety of watches for the German market and some, specifically from the 1960s and 70s, look surprisingly like Hamilton models... that's because they are.  However, not all ZentRa models are Hamilton-made, just some of them.  Typically they are branded with Savoy, which is a premier level of product.  If you look for ZentRa Savoy models you might recognize a few that look like a Fountainbleu or Aqua Date.

A Hamilton friend of mine from Germany actually discovered the connection on these interesting models.  In fact, he put me on to a watch for sale on eBay in the USA and I was able to purchase it for an excellent price.  That may have been because no one knew it was a Hamilton or it may have simply been because it's a little beat up.  Regardless, check out the font for "automatic" on the dial below... does that look like a 1960's Hamilton? (sure does)

The back of the watch pops off and it's a little hard to see the numbers on it but one of them is 63012-4.  I haven't seen that watch in Hamilton form (yet) but there is a 63022-3 that looks just like it but in stainless steel.

The bezel is stamped between the lugs with the Hamilton logo and PLAQUE G 20.  PLAQUE means plated, G means Galvano, for electoplating, or maybe Gold (I'm not sure) and 20 means 20 microns.

There's no doubt this is a Hamilton case.  Check out the big stylized H inside.  That was lifted from Huguenin when Hamilton acquired them in the late 1950s.  If you look at Huguenin watches from the 1960s they often have that same logo.  I guess that's a third answer to my original question.

This movement is definitely a Hamilton too.  It's a 21 jewel version of the 17 jewel 689A and is based on the Hamilton calibre 63.  The calibre 64 has the date complication.

There's a little bit of rust under the dial around the mainspring arbor as well as the offset center wheel.  I'll need to make sure that I get that area very clean so there's no extra friction introduced.

With the rotor out of the way you can tell this isn't a model for the USA - it's missing the import code, "HYL", on the balance cock.  Somehow this watch made it's way to the US "unofficially" over the last 50 years.

Everything is cleaned and ready to be reassembled.  A little polishing has made the writing on the case back much more legible.

The reassembled watch is ticking away with good motion.  Now it's off to the timer to see how well it's running.

Not too bad at all.  However, the beat error is so easy to adjust, why not reduce it a little?

Alrighty then... that'll do very nicely.

I definitely need to replace the crystal because the original was cracked.  31.4mm is a BIG crystal for a vintage watch.  Most models are under 30.8 or and typically under 30mm.

With a new crystal you can see the dial has a couple of marks around the perimeter.  The hour markers are black and the hands have black highlights to match.

There are two numbers on the back... 7007 and 63012-4.  I suspect the latter is a Hamilton number and the former is a ZentRa number - that's just a guess, of course.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

1962 Sea Rover II

When I first started collecting Hamiltons about 10 years ago I focused mainly on pocket watches.  That's because my interest in Hamiltons was started after I got my grandfather's Railroad Special repaired, along with some other distant ancestors' dress pocket watches.

After acquiring a dozen or so pocket watches I eventually lost some steam, as I don't tend to use pocket watches very often, if at all.   However, I quickly realized that Hamilton also made wrist watches and then I was off to the races again.

One of the first models I happened upon was a 1962 Sea Rover II.  Before too long I realized it had a Swiss-made movement and I was under the impression that Swiss models weren't as desirable as US-made Hamiltons.  That was a classic rookie mistake and I sold the Sea Rover II.

If you want to avoid Hamiltons with Swiss-made movements you'll need to focus on models made before1954 and that exclude any models with automatic movements or movements with calendar complications.  Some folks actually do that - they prefer the earlier models.  But to avoid models with Swiss movements because you think they are "lesser quality" than US-made Hamiltons is really a misguided opinion.

Hamilton simply introduced models with Swiss-made movements in order to compete at lower price points with other makers in the watch market.  Like most things, you evolve or you perish.

That said, I've been on the lookout for another Sea Rover II because I didn't have a decent photo of my original example for the blog.  It's not a rare model but the Sea Rover II was a one-year-wonder and only produced in 1962.

The Sea Rover II came in a one-piece stainless steel case.  It was a "Fine" watch and priced to compete at around the $40 price point.  Of course, in 1962 that was the equivalent of about $325 today - so it was still not an inexpensive watch... but it was a Hamilton after all.

My project watch is far from new but it works, and the dial and hands still look great.  The crown is an obvious replacement and it's a bit too large, in my opinion.

The one-piece case looks unremarkable on the back.  I don't see any of the usual marks from someone trying to open it from behind.  This watch opens through the crystal.

And speaking of opening through the crystal.  I recently picked up a new tool.  It's a crystal removing pump that injects air into the watch and pops the crystal off like the cork from a bottle of champagne.

The tool includes a little lever to slip under the crown and pry the two-piece stem apart.  You need to be careful though not to pry it unevenly or you'll risk breaking the stem off in the crown.

The handle has a metal tube that slides out and when you push the handle back in it blows air through the tube, through the white insert, and into the watch.

Like a bottle of "bubbly", you want to hold onto the crystal - otherwise it will fly off and hit you in the face.

Of course, you can use "the claw" to get the crystal off too - the real benefit of the tool is the little lever to get the crown off first.  However, with watches with a reflector ring, this tool is the perfect choice, as reflector rings don't compress with "the claw".

The Hamilton 688 movement is dirty and ready for a trip through the ultrasonic.  The stem is a bit rusty so I'll have to replace it if I want it to securely hold the male-hub of the stem after it's reassembled.

In this shot you can see the strength of the female side of the stem is a bit compromised by rust.

Everything is cleaned, dried and ready for reassembly.

The balance is reinstalled and swinging with good motion.

According to the timer the watch is running a bit slow but the other specs look good.

No wonder... look how close the regulator index is to the hairspring stud.  The longer you make the hairspring (by moving the regulator toward the hairspring stud) the slower it will run.  If I move the regulator index clockwise the beat rate will be increased.

There... let's see what it "sounds" like now.

Not too shabby... now I can move the hairspring stud to lower the beat error as close to zero as I can get it.  Starting at 1.2ms, I won't have to move it too far.

It doesn't take much of a tweak since the beat error isn't too bad to begin with.  However, it's so easy to do on this movement I would feel guilty if I didn't try.

0.1ms is about as close to zero as I can get so I'll call it quits there.  You can see on the right side of the screen the two lines getting closer and farther apart as I moved the index this way or that.

In this shot you can see the difference between a new stem and the rusty one.   A replacement is definitely an improvement.

As for the crown... the one that was on the watch is a little over 5mm in diameter.  That doesn't sound "big" but it's obviously too large for this watch.

I happen to have a nice Hamilton crown that is better suited to the recess in the case.

My replacement crown is just under 4mm.  That's about as small as I would use although some models use crowns as small as 3.5mm.

A new crystal is definitely in order and 29.3mm will do the trick.

Although the bracelet that came with the watch isn't original, I thought it went well with the watch so I cleaned and polished it along with the case.  The finished project looks and runs great now.