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, December 16, 2018

1955 Brewster

700+ models in and my quest continues for new Hamilton examples to share.  I can check one more off the list - a 1955 Brewster.

The Brewster was introduced in in 1955 and produced in 1956 as well.  It was available on either a strap or a bracelet.  Since it spans 1955 and 1956, you will find it with either the 19 jewel 753 movement or the 22 jewel 770 that replaced the 753 in late 1955.

Like most Lancaster-made models, the dial is sterling silver and features 18K gold numerals and markers.

I don't know if the Brewster should be considered a rare model but I haven't seen one before now so it must be relatively uncommon.  Either that, or it just blends into obscurity by resembling your garden variety 1950s watch.  It's very similar to several other models from the same period like the Morton, Murray, and Leslie, to name just a few, with lugs that flare up and outward like a German Shepherd's ears.

As I said before, I don't recall coming across a Brewster until I recently saw one for sale.  I was hoping the blemishes in the dial would be scratches on the crystal.  Other than that, it appeared to be in decent shape.

Alas, the dial is a bit beat up.  However this is a very simple dial design and will be fairly easy to get refinished to look like new.

This must be an early 1955 model as it has the 19 jewel 753 inside.  It's very similar to the later 770 movement with the exception being it lacks three additional cap jewels and the shock jeweled balance.  The 753 (and it's peers) marked the end of an era.  Movements made in Lancaster PA after 1955 all received Inca shock jewels - at least the wrist watches, anyway.

The case back makes identifying the model very easy.

I will prep a new glass crystal for installation while all the parts are in the cleaner.

All the parts are cleaned and ready to be reassembled.  If you've got a good eye for detail, you might notice the dial has been refinished... that was quick!  Actually I've had this project waiting for a month or so for the dial to come back.

The reassembled movement is running with good motion - now it's off to the timer.

Hmm... that's a large beat error at 6.4ms.  My upper spec is 3.0 but the closer to zero the better.

I looked very closely at the balance and the hairspring had come out of the regulator pins.  With a gentle tweak I reinserted the hairspring after a quick adjustment the watch is ticking away very nicely now.  I could try to reduce the beat error a little further but the amount it's off is so slight that it's risks more damage than I'd benefit from further reduction.

Here's a closer look at the refinished dial. As you can see, my friends Elizabeth and Robert at International Dial Co did an excellent job bringing this dial back to life.

Well, this 1955 Brewster now looks as good as it runs.  It's a sharp looking watch, even if it does look like so many other models.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

1972 Thinline 930072

Things got a little wonky in the 1970s.  The Hamilton Watch Company ceased production of US made models in 1969 and shifted all production to their Switzerland facilities.   As a global manufacturer, not all models were shown in the US catalogs.  So there are lots of watches that show up today that are hard to identify by model name and they go solely by the model number on the case back.

A recent example goes by the number 930072.  The last two digits mean it was introduced in 1972 but without catalogs to reference there is no way to say how long it was produced.

I would say that it's a model of the Thinline series simply because it looks like other models in that line up.  It's a tiny watch though, and although I'm 90% sure it's a men's model, you could easily convince me that it's a women's model.

The model comes in case with a 10K RGP bezel and stainless steel back.  The shape of the watch is sometimes referred to a "TV-shaped".  I think it has styling very similar to the 1968 Thinline 6504 and I'd probably name it a Thinline 651-something, since the highest Thinline number is 6514.

It's a small watch but my project watch came on a long Speidel expansion bracelet.  It's definitely well worn based on the funk but it's not beat up at all.

The back is clearly marked Hamilton and has the model number stamped on the outside.  There's a unique serial number on the inside of the case back.

The dial is in very good shape, a little dusty but not too bad.

The movement inside is a Hamilton 680, a 7.75 ligne movement based on an ETA 2512.

The inside of the case back is clearly a 1970's model - no Lancaster PA marked inside.

The movement is about the same size as my thumbnail.  Tiny movements are basically the same as larger movements but the parts are much easier to lose.

While everything is being cleaned I will prep a new glass crystal for installation.

So far so good - all parts present and accounted for.  Time for reassembly.

It took me about 45 minutes to reassemble the movement but that includes 20 minutes on my hands and knees looking for the click spring after if flicked off my bench and onto the floor.

Hmm... although the watch is ticking, it's not producing a clean signal on my timer.  Notice the beat rate is 21600, also a good clue this is a 1970's model.

I recleaned the hairspring and finally got a clean signal on the timer.  Now to try to reduce the beat error so it's a little closer to zero.

There... this performance is more than acceptable.  The amplitude is over 200 degrees but it might come up further after I wind it fully.

I happened to have a vintage JB Champion lizard calf strap that seemed to pair nicely with the 1970's styling of the watch.  This might make a nice Christmas present for a woman who appreciates fine vintage watches although I know plenty of men who don't mind wearing a small watch.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

1935 Hamilton Fairchild Gun Camera Watch (aka "Bomb Timer")

 - 700 -

This post marks my 700th model!  I like to mark my 100th milestones with something special and I recently came upon something that fits that bill in spades.

The model is often erroneously referred to as a "Bomb Timer" but in truth it has nothing to do with that.  In fact, the model is actually a timer for Fairchild aerial gun simulators! It was introduced in 1935 and produced through 1938.  There are several variations based on the dial and movement inside.

In a nutshell, the watch was part of the Fairchild Type CG-16 Camera Machine Gun system that was either mounted in a machine gun or on the wings to represent a fixed wing-mounted machine gun.  Analysis of the resulting movie film recorded along with the elapsed time allowed estimation of the accuracy of the "shots" fired.

If you click on the photos below you should get a larger version that's easier to read.

In terms of the variations, the initial watches were produced in 1935 using the 980A movement, the same movement used in the Seckron doctor's watch.

405 watches were made with the D22 dial plus another 416 with the the D23 dial over the 1935 and 1936 period.  From then on the regular 980 movement was used and the D37 dial and D38 were used with 1,709 and 995 units produced, respectively.  So if you do the math, around 3,500 units were produced from 1935 to 1938, priced at $20 a piece.

How do you know which is which?  Looking at the dial prints, let's first look at the D19 dial used for the initial Seckron.  It has two registers, one for the hour and minute hands and the other for a large seconds hand.  You can see why this would have been helpful for people in the medical profession.

The D22 dial is very similar to the D19 with the crown on the side by the 3 but the shape of the hour and minute register is different.

 The D23 dial is very similar but notice the 12 is on the side near the crown.

In 1936 when the plain 980 movement was used, the D37 dial had the 12 near the crown and the hour and minute register shifted into the center of the movement, overlapping the second hand.

Finally the D38 version is the same as the D37 but the 12 is moved so the 3 is on the crown-side.

Armed with that information, if you see a "bomb timer" for sale you will be able to identify what version it is.

The other interesting fact about the model is it had a "hack" mechanism and could be stopped by pushing on a button so the watch could be stopped and started again.

Although the watch is sometimes modified to be fitted with a strap, it wasn't originally intended to be used like that.

I recently landed a Gun Camera Watch on eBay and I was not going to lose out on it - they very rarely come up for sale.  This one came looking fairly original and other than the goofy crown, it looks like a very authentic D37.

The second hand came with it but it wasn't installed.  Also I had to repaint it white.

The case back looks like it may have had a strap installed at some point.

Notice the hole on the side - that's where the rod for the push button hack mechanism would have been.  It looks like it was removed in order to install a strap.  Oh well... I'd rather have half a loaf of bread than no bread at all.

The dial appears to be original and shows some scars from past use.

The movement behind the dial is from 1947, based on the serial number.  It's running but could stand a trip to the spa.  The crown on the stem is obviously a replacement.

The case is made by Keystone.  My thumb is on the side where the hack mechanism would be.

Part of the hack mechanism is still there but there would have been a strip of wire extending from it that bent inward to stop the balance if you activated it.

The purchase included another movement and based on the split set bridge / yoke I can immediately tell you that it's a very early 980 movement.

Based on the serial number, this movement dates to 1937 and is totally correct for the watch.  Unfortunately it is frozen solid.  Maybe a good cleaning will do the trick... let's find out.

I was only able to get three bridge screws removed... the balance cock and on the barrel bridge.  The other three and the pallet fork are locked on TIGHT.  I will need to soak them with penetrating oil and cross my fingers.

Progress... I was able to remove the pallet fork and the barrel bridge so those parts could be removed. I can see the stem is broken off and part of it is still in the winding pinion and clutch.

Since the barrel is removed I can check out the mainspring.  I'd give myself a .05% chance that this spring is still usable.

As I suspected, the mainspring is set and will need to be replaced.  No surprise there.

The broken stem is now loose and ready to come out.

In addition to the broken stem, I also found some wire inside the movement.  Is it from the hack mechanism?  I wonder...

One screw left to go.  I soak and tap the screw with a screwdriver and hammer.

With a little effort, I can get the wheels to turn.  The 4th wheel has a bit of corrosion... that probably explains why it was locked up.

Finally!  The last bridge screw is out.  Now I should be able to clean everything.

I've seen worse.

8 minutes in the ultrasonic on wash and then two rinse cycles should clean the parts nicely.

I have a 5.5mm crown and a 6mm crown... I think I will go with the larger option.

Out of curiosity I removed the hack mechanism.  I can see where the wire must have been braised on.

Everything is cleaned and ready to be reassembled... wish me luck.

A fresh white alloy Dynavar mainspring is definitely a good choice for powering the watch.

Without the pallet fork I can see that all four wheels spin easily.  That's a good sign.

Okay, the movement is running but I don't like the motion.

Sure enough, the timer agrees with me.  Something is holding the motion back.

A little fiddling here and there and I eventually get the watch to run decently, but fast.

Getting warmer but since I have the 1947 movement, why not try that balance?  It has an Elinvar Extra hairspring too, which is better than the Elinvar spring used in earlier movements.

We have a winner!

I found out the source of the broken wire - it's from the yoke spring.  You can see the broken section compared with a whole spring.  So I will have to replace it.

It goes right next to yoke.  When you pull the crown, the stem moves the set lever and pushes on the yoke in order to shift the clutch wheel into the time-setting position.  When the crown is pushed back in the yoke spring pushes the yoke and clutch wheel back to the winding position.

I need to trim a new stem to the appropriate length so the crown will be next to the case.

Ta da!  I am delighted with how this project turned out.  The newly painted second hand is a little whiter but that's mostly due to my light tent and bright white light.  This watch looks great.  It no longer hacks but if it was to go on a strap it wouldn't be "hackable" anyway.  C'est la vie, it was a great find just the same.

How's that for a 700th post?  Less than 400 more watches to go!