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.

Monday, April 30, 2018

1966 Dateline A-581

One of the interesting things about restoring vintage watches are the variety of times you feel like you are walking in someone else's footsteps.  You often come across watches that have lots of service marks inside the case. 

Of course, the opposite is also true.  I really enjoy coming across a vintage watch that looks like it was never even worn, let alone taken apart since it first left the factory.  Those situations are much less frequent.

Sometimes I come across a watch that makes me wonder who was the last person to "work" on it.  My latest project is a good example.  It's a 1966 Dateline A-581.  This model was made through 1969.

The Dateline A-581 came in a stainless steel case with silver hour markers and hands that have black highlights.  Being a Dateline A-model, it has a 17 jewel 694A movement inside, basically the equivalent of the 689 automatic movement used in the Accumatic line, but with a calendar complication.

My project watch has been waiting patiently for it's turn to visit the spa for so long that I don't even remember when I picked it up.  The only thing I know is the date doesn't want to advance.  The Spiedel bracelet is not original and I detest the spring-loaded "one size fits all" ends - as they eat into the lugs of the watch.  So this bracelet will have to go.

The case is a one-piece design and once the crystal is removed and two-piece stem is separated, the movement will lift up and out.  This watch has a silver reflector ring surrounding the dial - that will come out first.

The movement is secured inside a movement ring.  The two are connected by "case clamps" held down by screws.

One of the signs that I'm walking in someone else's footprints is when I find the wrong screws in certain holes.  Often movement use different screws in different locations.  The last guy (or gal) to open this watch put a longer train bridge screw in the automatic framework - and by doing so dented the mainspring barrel.  This sort of damage will bind the mainspring inside and lead to dramatic changes in spring tension as the watch runs.  So I will need to replace this barrel.

Of course, if one screw is put in the wrong place then another screw will have to go into another wrong space.  That was the situation with this watch - several screws where in the wrong holes.  Fortunately the only damage was the barrel.

Everything gets cleaned and dried.

Here's a nice shot of my watch timer but the reassembled movement is a little blurry... oops.

Did I mention I was walking in the footsteps of a potential "hack"?  This balance is all whacked.  Apparently the previous guy didn't have a timer.  Fortunately the balance is very easy to adjust so I should be able to fine tune things much better.

First I'll adjust the beat error by moving the hairspring stud.  0.4ms is a good stopping point.

Next I'll adjust the regulator index and slow the watch down.  I usually check the watch dial up and dial down.  They should be the same or very close to each other.  In fact, glucydur balances like on the 694A are machine-poised at the factory so the watch should run the same in all positions.

I replaced the crystal with a 30.6mm PHD crystal and installed a fresh alligator strap.  This watch is now a real looker and looks a great as it runs.  As and added benefit, all of the screws are in their proper places.

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