On any given day it's easy to find watches with Hamilton movements in solid gold cases with diamonds on the dial. They usually come with high price tags but nine out of ten of them aren't even authentic Hamilton models.
However, there are plenty of authentic models with diamond dials but you need to be careful when you see them for sale.
Diamonds became available on Hamilton watches in the 1940s, solely for specific solid gold models. Then in the 1960s Hamilton introduced the Lord Lancaster line of models with diamonds on the dials or integrated into the case. Those models came is a variety of case materials from solid gold to rolled gold plate.
One of the last models to be introduced was the 1968 Lord Lancaster AA. It was made until 1969.
The Lord Lancaster AA is a very uncommon model. In fact, I've never seen one for sale until recently so I managed to pick it up. It was an expensive watch at the time at $300 and it's still and expensive watch today.
The Lord Lancaster AA came in a solid 14K white gold case and it features 24 diamonds mounted to the dial. It's one of the few models to feature a sweep second movement.
My Lord Lancaster AA project watch didn't come with an original strap, which would have been interesting to see. A lot of times they are suede and it's hard to tell from the catalog depiction what the strap was really like.
Other than a lack of strap, my project watch is in excellent shape. The case is very crisp and has sharp edges. I'll be sure to protect them as I try to clean it up.
If you see a watch that you believe to be a Hamilton model, be sure to check out the case back. If it doesn't say Hamilton then you can be sure that it's not an authentic model.
Tucked inside the one-piece case is a 17 jewel Swiss-made 688 movement. The only US-made sweep second movement available at the time was the 735 / 736 and it would have required a deeper case. The 688 is very slender. It's basically a manual-winding version of the 689 automatic without the automatic framework tucked onto the back.
All authentic Hamilton models made before 1970 will be clearly marked with Hamilton W. CO. inside the case back. If you don't see that you can be sure the watch is not authentic.
Everything is ready to be put back together with fresh lubricants in all the wear areas.
The reassembled movement is ticking away with a good motion. It's off to the timer.
Not too shabby. The amplitude is under 250 but I haven't fully wound the watch yet. I'll leave it running a smidgen fast for now.
The original crystal had a deep gouge in it so I will replace it with a new 29.4mm crystal.
The finished watch is running as good as it looks and it looks great. I paired the watch with a glossy genuine alligator strap. Next time I have a chance to wear a tuxedo, this will be the watch to wear1
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.