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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, February 18, 2018

1960 Thinline 2000

It wasn't unusual in the 1920's and 1930's for men's models to have multiple dial and case material choices.  In fact, some models came in gold filled and solid gold in colors like white, yellow or green gold.  You might even find materials like sterling silver and platinum sneaking in too.  Then you could add the options of black inlaid enamel, applied gold figures and luminous dial options to the mix.  A single model could have 20+ or more possible permutations.

The amount of variety within a specific model decreased over the years but that was made up for by a greater number of model designs being offered.    However, some models still came with options.  For example, the 1960 Thinline 2000 came in both white or yellow gold and you had the choice of white or gold-colored dial with the yellow case or a white or black dial with the white gold case.


In 1961 the Thinline 2000 offering was reduced to the 14K white gold case only and the only available dial was black.  That means if you see a yellow gold Thinline 2000 it must be a 1960 version.


One reason for the lack of variety in the 1961 model year was the phase out of the movements used in  the original Thinline models and the introduction of Buren-based calibers that would be used later in the 1960s.

I don't know if the Thinline 2000 is a "rare watch" but I saw a few for sale at the same time.  Maybe it was just a coincidence.  In any event, I landed one that appeared to be in good shape, albeit with a little lug wear thanks to the metal bracelet.


The back of this watch has a presentation from 1962.  This doesn't look like factory engraving though and it probably came from a local jeweler who had the watch in inventory.


You can tell from the lip on the back of the case (above) that this is a two-piece case and the back pops off.  With the bezel and crystal out of the way, it appears that the dial is in very good overall condition with just a smidgen of crud around the outside perimeter.


Behind the dial is 17 jewel 676 movement.  This Swiss-made movement is based on an Aurore  Villeret movement.  Aurore was an ebauche-maker from same family as other makers in the ESA Swiss trust.


The inside of case back is clearly marked Hamilton W. Co.  You should look for this sort of mark when identifying a solid gold cased model - as without this stamp the watch is likely not an authentic model (1930's models excluded).


While things are being cleaned in the ultrasonic I will measure the beat up crystal so I can pick out a replacement.  29.4mm is the current diameter.


Since the watch has a very low profile I will try a PK-style crystal.  29.3mm may be too small but I'll give it a shot before going larger.


Everything is cleaned and dried.  The most challenging aspects of this movement are the balance jewels.  They are about half the size of the jewel setting that the ETA movements use so they are extra-easy to lose.


The reassembled movement is ticking away with a nice motion.  Time to see what the timer thinks of it.


Not too bad at all.  I'll leave it running a little fast for the time being but the rest of the specs look great.


A new crystal and a fresh alligator strap bring this 58 year old watch back to showroom condition.  This is a great looking watch... it's very sleek but it's also a good size.  It measures about 34mm wide, which is a large size for a vintage watch.



Sunday, February 11, 2018

1966 Dateline A-279

There are 66 Dateline models in the Hamilton lineup, starting in 1963 and going into the 1970s.  Not all calendar models are Dateline models but most of them are.

Of the 66 Dateline models, half are A-series models.  Eight of the 33 A-models came in solid gold cases and of the those eight, one is the 1966 Dateline A-279.  It was produced only in the 1966/67 timeframe.

Priced at $175, it retailed at the equivalent of about $1,300 in today's dollars.  Try finding a quality watch in a solid gold case at that price in a jewelry store today!  Of course, gold was priced at $35 an ounce in 1966 - quite a bit different than today.


Solid gold models tend to be less common than gold filled, which is understandable.  Finding the eight Dateline A-2-somethings could take a while.  I recently had someone send me an A-279 that they recently picked up.  Looking closely at it, it appears that it has never been worn.


Some Datelines are in the Thin-o-matic T-series line and a good way to determine which line the watch is in is to see how deep the pie-pan back is.


There are no marks whatsoever inside the case back so the odds are good this watch hasn't been opened in over 50 years.


The Dateline A-series models are powered by the 17 jewel Hamilton 694A movement - or at least all of the models I've seen so far have that movement.  It's basically a 689A movement but with a calendar complication added on the front.


Everything is cleaned and dried before being reassembled with fresh lubricants.


The partially reassembled movement is now ticking away with good motion.  It's off to the timer to see how well it's running.


Not too bad at all.  The amplitude is a little low but I haven't fully wound the watch yet since there's no crown attached.  On most watches I'd call it a day at this point but it's so easy to adjust the beat error I would feel guilty not lowering it even more.


Just a minor tweak to the hairspring stud dials the beat error in to near-zero.  I'll leave it running a smidgen fast for now, it will probably slow a little as everything settles in.


Well, this watch looks pretty much the same as it did at the start.  But now the owner can use it without concern about the watch running without oil.  Even though the watch may not have been used in 50 years, the oil inside surely evaporated long ago and needed to be replace.


Saturday, February 10, 2018

1955 Lyle and Lyle B

Watches in the mid-1950's had some very interesting designs.  I suppose the same is true with cars, if you think about it.  Although there were plenty of the usual stalwart designs, there were also some very unique models.  One of them was the Lyle, introduced in 1955.  It had what appears to be "hidden lugs" that are actually open.  So you can can see the strap beneath what looks like a bow.  The Lyle came in a solid 14K yellow gold case.


In 1955 the movement in the Lyle was the 8/0 sized 747 movement with 17 jewels.  In 1956 the movement was changed to the 22 jewel 12/0 sized 770 and the since the case had to be changed to accommodate the different shaped movement, the model name was changed to Lyle B.  The price also went up by 25%.  The Lyle B was also produced in 1957 so there are probably more Lyle B's out there than Lyles.

I don't think you come across the Lyle that often.  I've seen a couple for sale over a few years, at least that I can recall.  Perhaps it wasn't very popular relative to similarly priced models with more traditional masculine designs.  One way to tell the Lyle from the Lyle B is the Lyle B will have a diamond shaped marker on the dial under the Hamilton logo.  The Lyle does not have that marker.

I did recently come across one for sale but it was a bit on the ugly side, starting with what is arguably the world's worst choice of crowns.


The back of the case is engraved with a presentation from Marshal County Teachers... a very nice remembrance, I am sure.


The dial on my project watch has lost it's finish.  I don't know if it's over cleaned, as the printing is still there but regardless, the dial looks pretty cruddy.


If there was any doubt about the model's ID, the name is engraved in the case back.  That's not always the case (pun intended) but it was a fairly common practice in the 1950's.


It's been quite a while since this watch has been to a watchmaker for a cleaning but it appears to be in good shape.


The first thing off the movement are the balance jewels.  Then the movement is completely stripped of parts.


While everything is in the ultrasonic being cleaned, I will prep a new crystal for installation.


I forgot to take my usual photo of all the parts laid out but here's a photo of the mostly reassembled movement waiting for it's winding and ratchet wheels and then balance.


The movement is now looking bright and shiny.  It also is ticking away with a nice motion.


Just a slight tweak to the regulator to slow the beat rate down is needed.  Otherwise the performance looks great.


Replacing the crown will be a piece of cake, thanks to a stash of crowns I recently picked up.  You often see these boxes for sale but they usually are empty of parts.


This one still has lots of crowns but just dress crowns, there are no waterproof crowns in the kit.  Fortunately the Lyle B uses a dust proof dress crown.


A quick refinish thanks to my friends at International Dial Co. and this reassembled and restored Lyle B is looking and running fantastic.


I'd say a new crown, fresh crystal and correct dial refinish made all the difference in the world... don't you think?


Sunday, February 4, 2018

1934 Model 950 Railroad Watch

If you could only have one pocket watch, I think my suggestion would be the 23 jewel 950 or 950B railroad model. For over 50 years Hamilton was known as "the Watch of Railroad Accuracy" and the there was good reason for that.  Hamilton produced a number of different grades that met the requirements of railroad certification.  In fact, making railroad-approved watches was the principle reason the company was formed in 1892.

So what makes the 16 size grade 950 so special?  Lots of things.

When it was introduced in 1910, it featured 23 extra-fine ruby and sapphire jewels.  It has a solid gold train - meaning the center wheel through the 4th wheel are solid gold.  The train jewels are set in solid gold chatons (settings).  It has a low friction motor barrel.  Plus is has all of the bells and whistles the "lesser" grades like the 992 had (the 992 is also an excellent railroad-approved watch).


The 950 continued to be produced until the Elinvar hairspring was added in 1935, making it the 950E.  The grade was largely unchanged over almost 30 years until it was replaced by the 950B in 1941.


If you want to buy a 950 or 950B you'll need to be prepared to dig deep.  They are not inexpensive.  You will often see the grade cased in a solid gold case but buyers could also select a gold filled case, if they wanted.

I recently picked up a 950 and based on the serial number of the movement it dates to 1934, just before the Elinvar hairspring was introduced.


This example is cased in a Number 10 "bar over crown" case.


My attempt at the photographing the case back turned out to me more of a self-portrait of my hand and camera.


The best part of the 950 movement is the backside of the movement.  It seems a shame to have to cover it.


One of the requirements of railroad certification is to be lever-set.  That means there is a lever to move the watch into the time-setting position and you can't accidentally change the time like on a pendant-set movement.


Flipping the movement over, the first thing to do is to make sure the mainspring is released.  Then each bridge is removed, screw by screw.


A motor barrel is an interesting design.  The barrel has a fixed axle that runs though the center.  The arbor that the mainspring attaches to is secured to the ratchet wheel and the axle goes through the arbor and is held in a jewel on the back of the movement.


The hairspring stud is held in place by a keeper on the balance cock.  I'll remove the balance from the balance cock so I can thoroughly clean it.


While the parts are being cleaned, I will replace the crystal in the bezel since it has a few edge chips.


A new 19 5/16 Linge crystal will do the trick.


Everything gets thoroughly cleaned and readied for reassembly.


The four train wheels are installed first.  They should spin effortlessly at this point.


Next to be installed is the pallet fork and it's bridge.  Both sides of the pallet fork arbor are protected by cap jewels.


The barrel bridge is installed and the arbor jewel is secured by three screws.


The movement is now ready to be wound up so I can put the balance back on.


The easiest way to wind the watch at this point is to put it back in the case and use the crown.


Reinstalling the balance means carefully reinserting the hairspring in the regulator index fork.  Then I can rescuer the keeper.


With the watch wound up, when I get the balance in the correct place the watch will start ticking.  It's looking great now so it's off to the timer.


Not too shabby.  I could probably remove the balance and try to reduce the beat error but that would also risk goofing up the balance.  So I think I'll leave it as is.


This watch looks as great as it runs.  This dial is called the HG dial.